Lessons on Hyperion EPM implementations

Planning is at the forefront of a successful Hyperion EPM implementation, according to two experts.

Arthur ForbusArthur Forbus

Over the past two decades we have learned a lot of lessons around what works and what doesn't when it comes to implementing Oracle Hyperion Enterprise Performance Management (EPM).  No two implementations are ever the same, which is why we love the challenge.  However, there are some best practices for enabling Hyperion EPM technology into business processes that will allow you to enjoy success both during and after implementation.

Tammy NortonTammy Norton

Of utmost importance is determining where you are going. Start with defining an overall vision for performance management.  This should include strategic modeling and planning, budgeting and forecasting, and reporting and analytics; it should not just be a plan for replacing your Microsoft Excel spreadsheets for the close and consolidation process with Oracle Hyperion Financial Management (HFM), for example.  While the automation aspects of HFM will bring relief to your hours of data manipulation in Excel, you don't want to have to re-implement when the business changes suddenly or financial planning and analysis (FP&A) decides it needs to get out of Excel as well.  Create the roadmap and then redesign your close and consolidation process with an integrated vision for performance management.

Second, you must get everyone involved.  This means engaging with business users, accounting, FP&A, the business units, and all of the key stakeholders, not only at corporate, but also in the field.  Do not allow your project to turn into a "turnkey" consulting project in which you describe your requirements and then months later the consulting team hands you a manual and says, "Call us if you need us."  .  Likewise, do not let the project become an IT-only project.  They may get the software installed and turned on, but you may spend years tweaking it to your real requirements.  The business users must be involved with the Hyperion EPM implementation from the beginning, and that includes helping to establish the vision and roadmap, defining requirements, designing and building the technology, and finally testing and deploying it.  Then guess what? It is back to the roadmap.

Now you are ready to leverage a third best practice for Hyperion EPM implementations: defining your requirements.  A great place to start investigating requirements is by documenting your existing processes using Value Stream Mapping (VSM).  The traditional, detailed Visio process flows usually get thrown away almost as soon as you create them.  The key with VSM is to document key processes, looking for waste and variation. Once you understand the current processes, you can start thinking about the future state processes, again using VSMs.  Use your own company, benchmarking business units with each other and looking for the best practices to include in the future state processes.  Also, consider looking outside your company to others in your industry with similar size and complexity, as well as Hyperion user groups.  Both are great avenues for exploring things others are doing that may be adaptable to your business processes. 

In addition to the VSMs, developing a functional requirements document for your Hyperion EPM implementation should include the system technical design, implementation cost, training cost and rollout strategy.  Design architects should perform the functional and technical design of the new system and produce the design document, which will include the detailed models of the system, such as the application and infrastructure components, metadata descriptions, dimensionality, data flows and the details of each component of the software.  The functional requirements document is critical to outlining what's required in a new system.  The document should provide additional detail to the overall functional scope of the project and should also lay out the goals of the project, key stakeholders, project assumptions and project in/out of scope items.  Other important items to define are focused on key features of the software related to the functional and data components.  Non-functional focus is on the usability requirements, performance and operational requirements, and user documentation.  And finally, the document should explore security requirements and future maintenance best practices. 

After the requirements are complete, the team should create a project plan that lays out key dates, dependencies and tasks.  Once the functional requirements, design document and project plan have been signed off by the steering committee, the exciting journey to implement the technology can begin.  In the end, the amount of effort and time you put in before you actually start touching the software will determine the success of your Hyperion EPM project and will provide an excellent example to your stakeholders of what you are proposing and what they can expect as a result.

At an international offshore drilling contractor's recent Oracle Hyperion EPM Suite implementation, each of these best practices was employed.  The company established a vision, which included guiding principles of:

  • Single, controlled source for all financial data
  • Consistent data model for both actuals and planning information
  • Collaborative project built by both corporate and divisional stakeholders
  • Reduced data manipulation, increased time for analysis
  • Improved reporting detail

These guiding principles were established to address specific requirements and resulted in a roadmap for the parallel and global implementation of Hyperion Financial Management, Financial Data Quality Management, Planning, Essbase Analytics Link and Financial Reporting. The result was a journey from silos and manual processes to an integrated technology with appropriate automation. Their need for integrated performance management and the road they traveled to achieve success while readying the organization to continue its dynamic nature in the global offshore drilling industry was a result of following best practices before the technology was even employed.

Following these best practices will go a long way toward a successful Hyperion EPM implementation that is both on time and on budget, with the final product being  one that will be accepted by the stakeholders as well as sustainable and adaptable as your company grows.

About the authors
Arthur Forbus is a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal Business Consulting where he specializes in integrated performance management (IPM). Tammy Norton, a managing director with Alvarez & Marsal, focuses on the Oracle Hyperion Suite and enterprise performance management (EPM). Tammy is a member of the OAUG Board of Directors.

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