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While many only think of Oracle Support when they have a problem, Oracle’s Proactive Support provides tools that look at potential issues before they occur. Traditional support tools are geared for IT staff, but now Oracle is addressing the business end user as well.
Oracle Financials within E-Business Suite provides a good foundation for integrating the roles of IT professionals, business analysts and accountants – the so-called “super users” who know IT protocols as well as business processes. They are DBAs and CPAs. They know about database indexes. And they understand debits and credits.
Accounting software support provided problem-solving tools for the IT professionals charged with not only keeping the system up and available, but up and running efficiently. Oracle Support was no different. However, simply maintaining systems availability is no longer sufficient. With increasing support costs and greater pressure for reducing them, there is a clear opportunity to make those support costs do more than just guarantee uptime.
Oracle Support has been moving toward Proactive Support to get in front of potential issues and address problems before they occur. The tools provided under the umbrella of Proactive Support are focused on helping Oracle's customers accomplish their business tasks more effectively and efficiently.
These tools began with wizards developed to help plan and guide customers through the Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) R11 to R12 upgrade. This upgrade was one of the three most significant events that occurred in the lifecycle of my organization’s use of Oracle Financials, alongside our implementation in 1992 and our upgrade from character-based financials to GUI interface in 2000. However, an upgrade is a singular event. Following the upgrade, Oracle Support offers new and effective systems maintenance tools on the My Oracle Support platform. Still, these tools, like traditional Support, help the IT professionals keep our system running, and our system runs just fine.
But now the Proactive Support Team at Oracle is rolling out the Period Close Advisors within the E-Business Suite R12 to meet the needs of a new audience for Oracle Support: the business or accounting staff.
Period Close Advisors are a series of checklists and documents that detail the steps involved in closing the month-end books and show how the tools in Oracle Financials can help you with that close. They give both IT and business users the opportunity to focus on business success rather than just on maintaining system uptime.
Access to all Oracle Support Advisors requires a valid My Oracle Support login. Once connected, the Period Close Advisor starts with Support Document ID 335.1. These are not static .pdf files that are downloaded and read; they are interactive HTML pages that guide the reader thru the close process.
The Period Close Advisor provides guidance on recommended period-end procedures for EBS Release 12.x. It does not relate to a specific organization or industry, and does not address specialized accounting procedures. Still, it includes step-by-step best practices with tips and troubleshooting references for the business analyst.
Each subledger is documented in a separate tab, shown in order of the data flow dependency. For example, Order Management feeds data into Oracle Receivables, so it is closed before closing Oracle Receivables. The nine applications addressed in the Period Close Advisor in close sequence are:
- Order Management/Shipping
- Cash Management/Treasury
- General Ledger
You don't need to have all these applications to use the Period Close Advisors. We only run Payables, Purchasing, Assets and General Ledger. Within each application, guidance is provided for systems and the end user. As an example, the steps in Payables include:
Evaluate and Prepare
- A reference to the Patching & Maintenance Advisor, to verify our current patch levels
- Payables training materials
- Validation Diagnostics, tests that we run in our environment to verify patch levels, etc.
- Ensure data consistency with “Generic Datafix Patch”
- Complete invoices and credits
- Complete invoice import
- Import external data
- Run invoice validation
- Review invoices on hold
- Complete payments
- Run payment process requests
- Confirm all payment instructions
- Reconcile payments to the bank statement
- Run payments register
- Subledger accounting
- Run Create accounting
- Review transfer journal entries to the GL
- Run and review unaccounted transactions
- Transfer accounting invoices and payments to GL
- Review transfer to the GL
- Run posted invoices register
- Run posted payments register
- Subledger accounting
- Run AP Trial Balance
- Close AP period
- Submit Unaccounted transactions sweep
- Accrue uninvoiced receipts
- Run mass additions to Oracle Assets
- Open Next Payables Period
Again, what is most notable about the guidance is not only the detail that it presents but the audience at which it is directed. Only the first step is directed at the IT professionals maintaining Oracle Financials. The remaining steps are all accounting processes, run by various staff in the accounting department. This, then, is the true implication of the expansion of Oracle Support into the organization.
Andrew Farber, manager of financial systems at Consumer Reports, has overseen the growth of the organization’s financial systems for the last 20 years, from the initial implementation of Oracle Financials in 1991 to the successful upgrade to the Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1.2 in 2010. He is a long-time OAUG member, serves on the 2012 OAUG Board of Directors and has been an active member of the OAUG Customer Support Council for more than 10 years.