By Kevin Black, Product Manager – Master Data, Alithya Corporation
In these times of pandemic, it’s critical that companies can respond quickly to an ever-changing environment. But as we all know, changes to business models or processes require changes to the systems that underpin them, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) or supply chain. Without the right master data solution in place, companies struggle just to provide accurate and timely financial reporting—let alone respond to transformational business events.
Fortunately, Oracle Enterprise Data Management (EDM) is the right solution at the right time to address these data management challenges. In this post, I’d like to focus on three ways organizations have realized value from their investment in Oracle EDM.
EDM provides a visual, intuitive user interface designed for business users. EDM is not an IT tool. With EDM, business users can manage dimensions, or measures of value. Dimension examples include GL account, cost center, department, and channel, that provide answers to common business inquiries, such as who bought how much of which item through what channel. Dimensions can then be organized into parent-child relationships (or reporting hierarchies) in a chart of accounts, which allows a business to classify, analyze, and aggregate transactions to answer inquiries in a meaningful way. With intuitive drag-and-drop and point-and-click actions in EDM, business users can manage dimensions and reporting hierarchies. Spreadsheets are utilized for bulk updates. As changes are made to hierarchies, they are visually highlighted for review, before the changes are committed.
CareFirst (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maryland), the largest healthcare insurer in the mid-Atlantic region, took advantage of these self-service capabilities, enabling the cost accounting team to maintain several dimensions and dozens of hierarchies for their profitability and cost management models. CareFirst transitioned from managing dimensions and hierarchies in an on-premises solution to a centralized, cloud master data solution—which significantly reduced the effort of master data management, freeing up the team to focus on other tasks. The Oracle EDM solution also eliminated the need for internal servers and provides the company with a tool that can be used by other applications, which was a huge win:
“…we were looking for a master data management tool that can manage primary and alternate hierarchies with ease of maintenance. This was one of our key pain points. Oracle EDM helped greatly in achieving that. With cloud EDM, long term integration of data management across multiple applications in the Oracle EPM suite will be more seamless.”
Traditionally, master data management implementations have been approached from a centralized, top-down perspective. While Oracle EDM can support these more traditional approaches, it provides the opportunity to move to a more agile, evolutionary approach.
Using built-in connectors, EDM establishes a “contract” with each system to ensure the master data conforms to the rules of that system. At the same time, EDM provides functionality to ensure shared hierarchies are aligned across applications, with updates managed in a controlled and governed fashion. This allows hierarchies to organically grow and align in a bottom-up fashion.
Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), a major university and hospital system in the northeastern United States, recently implemented Oracle EDM. Its on-premise-to-cloud journey involved multiple Hyperion Planning applications; the team recognized that they needed a master data tool to manage reporting structures for a rapidly-growing higher education institution. With EDM as the underpinning, the FP&A organization has been able to deploy multiple enterprise planning models (financial, capital, strategic, and workforce).
Soon, the financial reporting organization will deploy Oracle Cloud EPM for financial consolidation and close, also supported by EDM:
“While we are still in the implementation stages of EDM, the future advantages to the enterprise have crystallized and have helped foster conversations around business process improvements that otherwise would not have been addressed. This product’s value is immeasurable as it aids in ensuring ‘one truth’ from a data standpoint, despite the use of disparate systems. For the finance department that has struggled with reconciliation of reports from different sources, this application is a game changer.”
Significant business events (mergers, divestitures, reorganizations) are challenging for any organization, regardless of industry, size, or location. Without a master data solution, the challenges are even more daunting.
WillScot and Mobile Mini are two industry leaders in the area of portable storage solutions, mobile offices, and other temporary storage products. The two organizations recently merged. Coincidentally, Alithya was in the middle of an on-premise-to-cloud EPM project as the merger was being negotiated and finalized.
As with most mergers, both companies brought forward a disparate set of legacy, on-premises systems including multiple ERP, EPM, and other operational systems—along with two chart of accounts (CoA). The finance organizations from both sides tried to standardize on a single CoA by managing spreadsheets and communicating updates via email and video conferences. They realized a more efficient process was required to meet the deadline. In just a few weeks, WillScot-Mobile Mini used Oracle EDM to finalize their go-forward CoA structure, including mappings with legacy systems.
The team also benefited from the real-time collaboration features of Oracle EDM, which lets multiple users collaborate and update hierarchies in real-time. In this time of virtual work, the collaboration features were invaluable.
“I loved the ease with which we could move accounts around as we were trying to align the chart of accounts. It would not have been so easy to do in Excel, which was our original plan.” — Marisa Breslow, Senior Manager, FP&A, WillScot Mobile Mini
“The tool gave us a single source of truth and allowed instant visualization of what the hierarchy looks like. It also was extremely easy to realign accounts or entities without having to manage various spreadsheets… Extremely efficient way to manage the hierarchy.”
EDM can help organizations in their move to the cloud, and help them respond to transformational events while working remotely. In these uncertain times, where technology and real-time collaboration in a virtual work environment are “must haves,” EDM is the right solution at the right time.