Archive for September, 2007

TTM is a key indicator for everyone

Sunday, September 30th, 2007 by

Time to market (TTM) is the length of time it takes from a product being conceived until its being available for sale.

There are no standards for measuring TTM, and measured values can vary greatly. First, there is great variation in how different organizations define the start of the period.

Finally, TTM measurements vary greatly depending on complexity – complexity of the product itself, the technologies it incorporates, its manufacturing processes, or the organizational complexity of the project (for example, outsourced components).

Some companies have been successful in putting their products into categories of newness, but establishing levels of complexity remains elusive.Companies pursue TTM improvement for a variety of reasons. Some variations of TTM are

  • Pure speed, that is, bring the product to market as quickly as possible. This is valuable in most industries.
  • Minimizing resources, especially labor. Many managers figure that the shorter the project the less it will cost, so they attempt to use TTM as a means of cutting expenses.
  • Product innovation is intimately tied to change, and often the need for change appears midstream in a project.

These types of TTM illustrate that an organization’s TTM goals should be aligned with its business strategy rather than pursuing speed blindly.

For customers using Oracle Applications R12, it is important to properly understand the new Fusion middleware that allows for Master Data Management and integration with process management using BPEL , business rules, ESB, Enterprise connectivity,etc.

Most customers should not always move blindly to customize your Oracle Applications. With the arrival of SOA, the business should be dictating to IT what tools they need to be more efficient and not vice versa.

White Paper - ‘FSG Report Writing for Beginners’ By Daniel North

Friday, September 28th, 2007 by

OracleContractors.com is pleased to announce the latest free of charge release into our extensive Oracle Apps related White Paper Library of:

FSG Report Writing for Beginners - Authored by Daniel North

The objective of this document is to provide a supportable framework for the implementation FSG reports across multiple books and countries. It is aimed at both users and implementers who are familiar with the basic FSG report writing concepts and are looking for an approach to ensure consistent quality of report components and comparability of reporting information across multiple sites.

The document focuses on topics such as general approach and strategy, report writing best practices, naming conventions, building in report controls and ongoing support.

Thank you very much to Daniel for working with us in producing this excellent White Paper.

The Joys of Release 12 Early Adoption

Thursday, September 27th, 2007 by

I have read many articles recently about the benefits that Release 12 will bring to organizations and the key changes in functionality from 11i.  As someone who is involved in implementing Release 12 in Australia, which is understood to be the first “Greenfield” implementation in the country, it is obvious that many of these developments will make life a lot easier for those people using the application on a daily basis – especially in a shared services environment.  However, as an early adopter of R12, things have been far from plain sailing.  In fact, at times the wind is not hitting the sails at all and we sometimes find ourselves stranded without so much as a lifejacket!

While many companies are waiting to see how R12 shapes up elsewhere, or waiting to learn about the benefits of upgrading to Fusion, my employer decided to take the plunge and implement Payables, Receivables, Assets, GL, Purchasing / iProcurement, iExpenses, Cash Management, and HRMS at the same time!  If you throw in the compulsory setup of E-Business Tax and Oracle Payments, this isn’t just a plunge – it has the potential of being another Titanic!

Okay so it’s not all bad and one has to expect certain issues to arise, but with just one week to go until UAT – and seven months into the project – over 80 service requests have been raised with a chance the number will rise over the coming weeks.  Many SRs can be classified as non-showstoppers but some of the issues identified certainly raise questions about the amount of QA time that went into the product before its release.  Those of you that are familiar with Applications Unlimited will be aware that it wasn’t just Release 12 of the E-Business Suite that was launched earlier this year – four other major product releases were also given the red carpet treatment.  This was undoubtedly an ambitious move and one has to wonder just how much pressure was placed on Oracle’s internal departments to get EBS out at the same time as the other products.

The issues encountered so far can (mostly) be categorised as follows:

  • Functions and processes carried across from 11i that are no longer working in Release 12.
  • New Release 12 functionality that, to use a UK expression, doesn’t do what it says on the tin.

In addition, the Release 12 user guides still include references to 11i processes and reports that no longer exist!  Documentation is therefore something that needs to be worked on but Oracle can be forgiven for not making this a priority!  On the positive side, my experiences with the Oracle support team have been very impressive and the turnaround time with service requests has exceeded expectations.

This project is certainly providing the biggest challenge of my career and, as the saying goes, you learn more when things go wrong.   I’m sure once all the issues are resolved this new release will definitely live up to all the surrounding hype.  Until then, spare a thought for people like myself who are identifying the cracks and smoothing everything over in time for your implementation or upgrade!

Technical Tsunami

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 by

Contractors are, on the whole, clever people. They adapt to new clients and new types of business, they are not usually megalomaniacs and so don’t hire people with the intention of empire building, and when new technology comes around they often learn it ‘on the fly’ using their experience and a bit of hard work to master it.

But there is a technical tsunami heading our way and this approach to new technology simply won’t work. I think R12 represents a stake in the ground for the future of Oracle Applications developers. It means change, and change now.

Fusion is coming, with Fusion middleware already here. Future Oracle Application developers are likely to be experienced Java programmers, with Oracle’s emphasis on OA Framework in R12 and Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) in Fusion.

Note I say experienced. OA Framework is a great introduction to Java, being primarily metadata driven, and requiring a more procedural understanding of Java; not too much object design. Noddy little forms can be put together with little knowledge of Java, with more functional and elaborate forms requiring deeper understanding.

The use of the Model-View-Controller (MVC) is an introduction to design patterns which are unknown to PL/SQL developers but well established with Java programmers; MVC was first implemented in Smalltalk in the early 70s, but patterns took off in the mid 90s with a major book called, believe it or not, ‘Design Patterns’. These are likely to be needed for development of sophisticated SOA components, and OA Framework will be replaced with Oracle Application Development Framework (ADF) for the Fusion release which is far more sophisticated.

When we get further in to Fusion and hence SOA, we’ll need to know variations of XML tools and utilities such as XSL for transformations, XPath and XQuery for querying XML structures, BPEL for orchestrating SOA components (a higher level form of workflow for business processes), web service standards such as WSDL and WSIF; and these are just a subset of the dizzyingly vast array of new technologies.

Becoming familiar with each technology is just the beginning; we’ll need to know how to deploy and debug as well as understanding the integration of each technology within the context of the overall architecture. Hopefully, a lot of these new technologies will be wrapped in wizards of the development environment, JDeveloper, which happens to be another tool for us to get to know.

Oracle is betting their future on a bunch of technologies and concepts that have Java at their heart. They started off with it in the database, then the desktop tier, then the application tier and that is where I think they have finally found a comfortable fit for the future, and all along they have been telling us to learn Java.

I was lucky enough to get in to Java in the 90s, but often customers shy away from using Java for their concurrent requests or having new forms developed using OA Framework, usually because they believe it to be too slow, or don’t have the skills internally to support it or because they are still not yet convinced that Oracle is serious about Java.

Well, I think they are.

User Management ( UMX ) Features

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 by

Hi,

For my first posting, I thought I will go off the beaten track and talk about User Management module (UMX). While the purists may argue that this is not what HRMS is all about, I feel that user management if implemented properly, makes HR more strategic and empowers the employee.

Following are the key feature functions of UMX,

  • Forgotten Password Facility

This feature is very simple to implement and is just the matter of setting the “Local Login Mask” profile option. From a strategic perspective, this will ease the resourcing burden of the first line support staff / HR Professionals.

As with all new Oracle products there is a quirk, “out of the box” forgotten password will only reset the password once the employee approves the workflow request sent to their email address. However this step can be removed via a simple workflow change.

  • User Registration

Customer can implement this feature for new employees or external organizations e.g. suppliers. “Out of the box”, username is set to the email address of the person requesting access. Using business events, bespoke username policies can be implemented along with password expiry etc.

Recommend that consultants create a registration policy rather than using what is delivered out of the box by Oracle. Please be aware that documentation is not very clear or complete.
 

  • Additional Access request

This requires new registration processes too and works very well if requesting access to responsibilities that don’t require approval.

AME does not work as documented with this feature and I wouldn’t use it for anything other than the simple and straight forward access requests.

This is one feature, I feel, has not been well thought out.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.

Thanks,

Raghu


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