REVIEWER: John Monczewski, director of enterprise performance management for General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT).
BACKGROUND: As a trusted systems integrator for more than 50 years, GDIT provides IT, systems engineering and professional services to customers in the defense, intelligence, homeland security, federal civilian government and commercial sectors. The company manages large-scale, mission-critical IT programs delivering IT services and enterprise solutions. General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, employs approximately 85,600 people worldwide. The company is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat systems, armaments and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and information systems and technologies.
PLATFORMS: GDIT uses a production environment that consists of four Dell Windows NT Servers. Oracle Hyperion Planning and Financial Reporting both use two quad core 32 bit servers and use Oracle WebLogic as the Web server. The Oracle Database 10g data mart and Oracle Essbase are both on two quad 64-bit servers.
PROBLEM SOLVED: GDIT uses Oracle Hyperion Planning, Essbase and related reporting tools for financial and operational planning and management reporting. The solution helps plan, report and manage revenue, expenses, earnings, return on sales, orders and other operational metrics. The reporting of this information occurs on a monthly basis, while budgeting occurs annually, and forecasts quarterly. GDIT runs multiple general ledger systems. Oracle Financials, Deltek, as well as PeopleSoft Enterprise HCM. It can be very challenging to consolidate information from multiple sources for financial reporting, as well as operational management reporting. With a major focus on government contracts, we are required to calculate rates for submission to the federal government, monitor actual versus budgeted rates and perform very detailed monthly expense tracking for cost center managers. These rates cover items like overhead, material handling, and general and administrative costs. This can be a complex process, because the rates must incorporate allocations from General Dynamics corporate to GDIT, and then allocations out to the various projects we are engaged in. The Oracle Hyperion Planning and Essbase solutions manage our annual budgeting process, quarterly rolling forecast and management reporting. In additional to generating operational management reports, the system also generates our financial statements, i.e., the balance sheet, income statement and cash flow, which are fed directly into the financial consolidation system at General Dynamics Corporation - which is managed by the Oracle Hyperion Financial Management application.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: One of the key features we leverage heavily is the Hyperion Planning Web forms for end-user budgeting and forecasting. The Web forms allow us to create standard data entry forms, leveraging a standard account structure, and with standard calculations for utilization and other metrics. The organization and performance of the Web forms allow users to quickly enter and modify data throughout the process. We also leverage the powerful calculation capabilities of Oracle Essbase to handle complex allocations of costs across functional areas and projects. Its very easy to write the business logic for these allocations, and they can be executed quickly. Financial and management reporting is handled using the Hyperion Financial Reporting tool. With this tool, its very easy for our financial analysts to create standard reports for a broad range of end users and to ensure consistency in rate calculations. We have more than 77 rates to calculate, and Hyperion Financial Reporting helps us to standardize through each division and set of reports. We also make extensive use of the Microsoft Office interface. Hyperion Smart View for Office. This is the favorite tool of the analysts because it provides seamless integration between the Hyperion applications and Excel and makes it very easy to perform ad hoc query and analysis.
STRENGTHS: One of the key strengths is the ease of use of the Hyperion Planning application. With customizable Web forms, and the ability to copy and paste data from Excel, this has been very easy for our program managers to learn and use. Essbase is also a key strength; it allows us to perform rapid calculations on complex multidimensional models. It also provides fast response time and high performance for more than 400 users, including finance and program managers. The ease of use of the Hyperion reporting tools is also a key strength. The reporting tool is designed for finance users, so its easy for them to learn and quickly build reports, responding quickly to new end-user requests. Its also easy to create PDFs and distribute these to program managers.
WEAKNESSES: One of the improvements weve requested is the ability for end users to graphically see and understand the calculations and business rules within the system. This has been addressed in a subsequent release of the product. We would also like to see improved interoperability with Microsoft Office and more functionality offered when entering data offline in Excel. And wed like to see support for dynamic hierarchies, whereby the users can add departments, accounts, scenarios, etc., on the fly without having to request these additions by administrators. We know these are areas that Oracle has been working on.
SELECTION CRITERIA: GDIT had been using a competitors planning application that was not providing us the flexibility that we required. We evaluated and selected the Hyperion Planning application because of its functionality as well as Oracles market leadership and commitment to the product. We were also impressed with product support, including the ability to gain access to development and product management staff when needed. We are part of an enterprise performance management customer council that provides direct input to the development team, and receives detailed briefings on future product direction.
DELIVERABLES: The Oracle Hyperion Planning solution is used by GDIT to generate our annual budget, monthly management and financial reports, and quarterly forecasts. It also supports detailed allocation models and provide high quality data for decision-making. The solution has also helped us reduce cycle time in the budgeting process. For example, one group improved cycle time in developing financial budgets from six weeks to three weeks after we implemented Hyperion Planning.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We have received high-quality support from Hyperion/Oracle both before and after the implementation. They performed the initial installation and configuration of both our development and production systems. And we had excellent support from their development on performance testing and tuning, which resulted in very fast response times on end-user tasks. Post-implementation help desk support has been excellent.
DOCUMENTATION: The product documentation and online help is complete and easy to understand.
Oracle Hyperion Planning v.9.3.1
500 Oracle Parkway
Redwood Shores, CA 94065
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