Getting Started with Coexistence and Integration with Fusion Applications

Introduction

In the past integrating enterprise business applications has been inflexible, complex, and costly, and because of this Fusion Applications was carefully designed to ensure this challenge didn’t persist. Through the adoption of new tools, technologies, and best practice techniques, Fusion Applications offers integration methods that do not require proprietary skills and long-running custom development projects. Some examples include:
  • Exposing features through a Service Orientated Architecture (SOA), where hundreds of webservices and internal business events are available as integration hooks.
  • Leveraging proven canonical models to represent standardized business objects. Many of the Fusion business object definitions match those in Oracle Applications Integration Architecture (AIA).
  • Expanding proven Oracle Applications integration methods to minimize disruption. An example might be Interface Tables.
  • Leveraging Fusion Middleware tools like Oracle Data Integrator (ODI) for high quality and scalable data transformation and synchronization.

In addition to these obvious benefits another clear advantage is that the integrations currently available for Fusion Applications are based on simple multi-step processes, and whilst at first glance these might seem unrefined, as the first stage in their evolution they are easy to understand and implement.

Packaged Coexistence

Some integrations are so commonly required that Oracle decided to make some part of the out-of-the-box product features. This prevents spending money building the same integrations repeatedly and allows us to support and evolve them with the product itself. These are known as Packaged Coexistence scenarios.

At the time of writing there are several packaged solutions available, however of course ongoing work exists to extend additional options and provide new features, and because these are standard product features they are documented with the product and are often supported by whitepapers.

Human Capital Management Packaged Integrations

1) Fusion Workforce Lifecycle Management to Applications Unlimited HRMS - This is based on the embedding of portlets from Applications Unlimited into the Workflow Lifecycle Management pages. Whilst currently possible through customization, it’s not yet available as a set of packaged options but is planned for a future product release.

2) Fusion Talent Management (SaaS) to Application Unlimited HRMS – This in essence is the extract of data from the Applications Unlimited source system, then importing it into Fusion HCM against which the compensation plans of Fusion Talent Management is run. After the analysis in Fusion HCM any updates to Salary, Job Grade, and Bonuses can be pushed back into the Applications Unlimited system. In general the steps of the process are based on manual loader job submission at this time, and the Applications Unlimited systems remain as the System of Record (i.e. master) for the HCM core data, with Fusion owning only the talent data. The data extracts from Applications Unlimited focus on Worker Attributes, Reporting Relationships, Salary Change History, Bonus Payment History, and Job Grades.

HCM

Figure 1 – Fusion HCM’s workarea for starting and managing the integration processes (click here to enlarge).

3) Fusion Employee Portrait to Applications Unlimited HRMS – is based on the exact same process as above, where the employee, pay, and job information is extracted and loaded into Fusion HCM for use within the Employee Portrait features, and any record updates are available for transfer back.

Supply Chain Management Packaged Integrations

1) Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration (DOO) to Applications Unlimited Order Entry and Fulfillment - as an orchestration system the primary use-case of DOO is to move sales orders from the capture systems such as Siebel to the fulfillment systems such as E-Business Suite Order Management. DOO is already aware of the mechanisms for receiving and sending orders to these systems, and the implementation is centered around configuring the BPEL processes to fit your business needs.

Coexistence for DOO is not yet available in the SaaS environment at the time of writing, mainly because it requires JDeveloper’s SOA Composite Editor for design-time configuration, plus passing orders through a remote service just for routing doesn’t really make much sense unless all of your supply chain management capabilities are in the cloud. Therefore as a coexistence solution it is a simple method of integrating a small feature of an on-premise Fusion Applications instance with your existing back-office systems.

2) Fusion Spend Analysis, Sourcing and Contracts to Applications Unlimited Purchasing – this solution is based on the use of Fusion Procurement products to share performance of spend, supplier usage, negotiation and sourcing, and contact compliance. The integration is based on having one or all of these Fusion products available as a standalone service and sending/receiving the purchasing and reference data to it. This is based on a range of API options including Interface Tables, WebServices, and Oracle Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA) data loading.

Financials Packaged Integrations

1) Fusion Accounting Hub to Applications Unlimited Financials

The Fusion Accounting Hub provides a reporting and analytics platform within a multidimensional data model that is embedded within Fusion General Ledger.

Integration is done by synchronization of chart of accounts values between the Oracle General Ledgers and the Fusion Accounting Hub using Oracle Hyperion Data Relationship Management (DRM). In addition a selection of dedicated Fusion programs perform activities that include the import of relationships between Oracle GL ledgers and those in Fusion, the transformation of chart of accounts values, and the transfer other accounting information into Fusion via file-based loaders.

2) Fusion Project Portfolio Management to Oracle Primavera

The detail of executing on complex projects are fully supported by the market leading Oracle Primavera solution, and therefore sharing data from Fusion Project Portfolio Management (PPM) is an important need. This is available today through a packaged solution. Using a SOA based process high-level project data is transformed and shared from Fusion PPM to Primavera where it is used to build out the detailed project plan. This is actually a 2way integration as the results from the project execution are pushed back to Fusion PPM, so that items such as actual cost and performance is available.

CRM Packaged Integrations

1) Fusion Territory Management to Applications Unlimited CRM - supports the use of Fusion Territory Management to first extract/import the employee/partner data then run through the process of defining and assigning territories, with the end result loaded back into  Applications Unlimited interface tables.

2) Fusion Incentive Comp to Applications Unlimited CRM – In this scenario leads, opportunities and orders are processed in AU Systems and sales credits are passed to Fusion.  Sales compensation is calculated in Fusion and passed back to AU systems for payment.

Enabled Coexistence and Integrations

Obviously it is impossible to imagine all the potential integrations that enterprises might want to have with Fusion Applications, therefore whilst some of the most common requirements are pre-built, the remainder are supported by a catalog of Integration Assets. These are items like WebServices, Events, Interface Tables, and other API’s, all of which are documented in the Oracle Enterprise Repository (OER) tool, soon to be available as part of your on-premise install and for now publicly available on the web here.

Let’s take the example of integrating your Fusion Procure-to-Pay to Applications Unlimited General Ledger. This is done by building a solution from the collection of related integration assets available in Fusion Applications, as detailed in the OER library. There are integration API’s for many components of the order processing, invoice matching, and payment processing activities, however based on the complexity involved and the early stage in its evolution, there is no complete pre-packaged integration flow.

OER

Figure 2 – The Purchase Order WebService with details on its use available under each OER tab (click here to enlarge).

In addition to both Packaged and Enabled coexistence, there are some other integrations to/from Fusion Applications that are proving popular with the growing customer base. Here are some examples taken from HCM:

  • Integrating the Taleo recruitment solution to on-board accepted job candidates into Fusion HCM as new employees. Currently the HCM File Based Loader supports employee import into Fusion HCM, however a more complete packaged solution may be available going forwards. Similarly, performance ratings can be imported from Taleo either through the loaders, or as a ADFdi spreadsheet.
  • Integrating Core HR features of Fusion HCM with downstream systems that need basic employee records. There are plans to use the Oracle GoldenGate data synchronization platform to support a range of packaged solutions here.
  • Fusion Benefits stores details that other external systems need to be able to complete the provision of the chosen entitlement, such as pension or leasing systems. At this time it is possible to extract this data from Fusion as a file for transfer.
  • Where customers are using Fusion Compensation it may not be the case they are running Fusion Payroll, and therefore require sending bonus and related data to another payroll system. The Fusion Payroll Interface solution provides an XML extract that supports this requirement.

Some Considerations

1) All technical setups for an integration must be very carefully completed. Where support notes, whitepapers, and documentation exist they should be followed carefully and verified as complete and working. See the examples below.

2) Although the data model for the transfer of information from system-to-system is based on standard canonical objects, there may occasionally be a slight difference in the individual field validations that occur in each system, and as such unvalidated data from the source system may encounter new validation (and potential rejection) in the target system. This is usually from Applications Unlimited into Fusion Applications. The recommendation is to use Master Data Management (MDM) and upfront data cleansing activities to ensure the quality of the original data.

3) Generally speaking the integrations work best with the latest version of the Applications Unlimited products, such as PeopleSoft 9.1 and E-Business Suite 12.1. Whilst it might be possible to get earlier versions to work, the latest versions are better supported.

4) In Release5 there was the introduction of the Spreadsheet Loader which aims to simplify and standardized initial data import into Fusion Applications, from file-base loaders into a common capability. The solution is based on loading data based on existing View Object definitions and using a flat object structure without the complexity of any hierarchy modelling.

5) The Fusion SaaS product are aware of the need for integration and most have the related coexistence components configured and ready for use. An example is Fusion HCM SaaS, where there is a standard process to upload files via sFTP to the Oracle Cloud servers where they are picked up and processed.

Recommended Reading

The following are some highlights taken from various sources to help get started with understanding Fusion Applications coexistence and Integration. Obviously additional and updated material comes out all the time (just like this post).

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Posted by systems integration on July 21, 2013 at 03:15 PM PDT #

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