Business Analysis

A Conceptual Data Model (aka BIM) is Not Technical - It's about clarifying ...

on Sunday, 28 December 2014. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

A Conceptual Data Model (aka BIM) is Not Technical - It's about clarifying ...

                                                                                                                                             the business language describing the problem domain so that everyone understand exactly what is meant by the model. And this is something we need to put together independent of the systems or technology— this becomes a road map that helps determine the BIM (Business Information Model) and this output is going to be in the process definition.

 

A conceptual data model identifies the highest-level relationships between the different entities with no technical information like primary keys or attributes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The figure below is an example of a conceptual data model.

cmmodel

 

The conceptual model helps breakdown for the business stakeholder the planning and to start top-down modeling to do a model driven architecture (MDA).

 

In my view, every enterprise project needs conceptual data models or Business Information Models.Why? 

 

  • It describes exactly the information needs of the business.
  • It facilitates discussion.
  • It helps to prevent mistakes, misunderstanding.
  • It forms important “ideal system” documentation.
  • It forms a sound basis for physical database design.
  • It helps in forming sound logical data and functional models.

 

*** Happy New year , wish you all a great, healthy and extremely happy 2015.

Tips on the Oracle EBS R12 Upgrade Dilemma

on Thursday, 03 April 2014. Posted in Enterprise Software , Business Analysis, Blog

Tips on the Oracle EBS R12 Upgrade Dilemma

If taking away choices is a bad thing, then giving more choices must be good, right? Not necessarily for all Oracle clients. Too many choices can overwhelm a company. I think Oracle`s strategy is a fair one provide customers with a wide selection of products of a certain type to increase customer satisfaction and meet their unique requirements. After all, we all do it at the supermarket, when they provide us 20 different brands of toast, we are more likely to find a brand that suits our taste and meets our families’ requirements.

Any EBS upgrade is a nerve-racking situation for any entity. Let`s go directly into the subject. Before you begin your upgrade follow these 5 steps:

1. Ask what you are looking to really achieve with the upgrade if you keep your options as open as possible.

By doing this, you can see that the time and stress invested to keep a wide range of choice isn’t likely to outweigh the benefit of possibly just saving a few dollars upgrade or re-implement R12. Do a full analysis conventional upgrade or re-Implementation of R12.

2. Once you’ve made your decision, stick with it.

Don’t allow yourself a “safety net” of being able to take it back or swap just because you’ve changed your mind. Know that this is the right choice for your organization, right now. Stick with your decision all 3 Oracle versions are valid – The decision has No wrong answer. Stop talking and execute Oracle will support you with any of the 3 versions you select.

3. Forget about the other “EBS versions”.

They’re will always be someone that will question or doubt that decision, don’t dwell on how wonderful the things may have been if you selected the other version. Move ahead, many companies i see spend lots of time and money on this point Don’t.

4. Ask: do you really need it anyway?

If you already own several pairs of boots, how will another pair affect your happiness? Focus on what value the upgraded EBS version provides to your company, rather than just upgrading because of Oracle`s roadmap.

5. Trust yourself.

You know what you really need, and what is right for you. Be happy with your choice when you’ve made it, and know that your company will not cease to exist if, by the slightest chance, this was the wrong choice.

When looking to upgrade your EBS release below is the timeframe with the support policies for 11.5 and 12.1

 timeline

For people that are not familiar with Oracle support policies, Each new version of EBS when launched the first 5 years is called premier and support costs are defined when software is purchased, the next 3 years are named Extended and an extra support cost is usually added.

For example EBS 12.2 that was released GA (General availability) in 2013, premier support ends in 2018.

Decision process for the R12 EBS Upgrade

Lets go to the heart of the question upgrade to which version, Here are my thoughts on the topic:

Upgrading to Release 12.1.3 : This EBS version is currently used by thousands of customers and will provide you the least surprises. The upgrade path is well known and provides the least risk, also if your only requirement is to upgrade for the cheapest short term cost and no new functionality is required for your organization 12.1.3 is your best bet. Currently the majority of EBS customers are on this version and you should be good for the next 4 years.

Upgrading to Release 12.2.2 : Requires to upgrade to 12.2 and then install the 12.2.2 release pack , this version includes lots of new features Online patching which allows the E-Business Suite to be updated while the system is still running and users entering transactions, but lots of new feature here is the link to all new business and technical features : E-Business Suite 12.2 Release Content Document (Note 1302189.1)

Upgrading to Release 12.2.3 : Requires to upgrade to EBS 12.2 and then to install the 12.2.3 release pack, one of the many features of 12.2.3 is to be able to change the new-look and feel of the user interface by changing the below profile :

Screenshot of the profile option that you need to change

 look and feel profile

One of the multiple look and feels available within R12.2.3

screenshot of new UI

For a full complete list of 12.2.3 features, it can be found at the following hyperlink Oracle E-Business Suite Product Specific Release Notes, Release 12.2.3 (Doc ID 1605928.1)

To conclude, my opinion upgrading to the latest version minus 1 is always the safest upgrade. If you think about it most bugs get resolved in the next version following the one the bug was identified.

Like usual share your thoughts & the approach that is or was followed at your company.

 

Business architecture always adapt to your audience - 4 tips

on Thursday, 22 August 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Solution & Business Architecture, Blog

Business architecture always adapt to your audience - 4 tips

 

Always make a point to understand your audience, audience analysis involves identifying the audience and adapting a speech to their interests, level of understanding, attitudes, and beliefs. Taking an audience-centered approach is important because your material effectiveness will be improved if the deliverable is created and delivered in an appropriate manner.

I have seen many times technical people speaking to the business and not talking at the right level and emphasizing technical information like security, protocols and interfaces. An example application A will push the actuals to application B (good) instead of saying Application A attributes are connecting to table AR_Actuals and the trigger releases the information into Application B table GL_Open_balances. 

Depending on your audience adapt your architecture diagrams accordingly.

In my view, here is a sample architecture of a business architecture diagram that will connect with business savvy people to initiate architecture discussions. here are my tips:

  1. A Business Architecture must be process centric
  2. Be able to apply enterprise-wide architecture and process-level models and techniques that are aligned to your roadmap
  3. Develop a measurable architecture for planning, budgeting, organization design, compliance, human change management, and the introduction of breakthrough technologies
  4. Be able to use an architecture model to accelerate capability change projects and model development

 architecture

 Do you have any favorite tips or would like to share your experience on this topic?

9 ways to reduce cost and maximize value on User Productivity Kit (UPK)

on Sunday, 10 February 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

9 ways to reduce cost and maximize value on User Productivity Kit (UPK)

 

What is UPK?It is a software tool that can capture all the steps in a system process. It records every keystroke, every click of the mouse, each menu option chosen and each button pressed. All this is done in the UPK Recorder by going through the transaction and pressing “printscreen” after every user action. From this, without any further effort from the developer, UPK builds a number of valuable outputs

All major ERP/Enterprise  players have their own version (PSFT, EBS,JDE, SAP, Siebel) perhaps one of the less well known of the software products on the price list, however just a brief consideration of its name indicates that it may be of considerable value to organisations. We invest significant money and resources in the purchase and implementation of software applications but do we realise, in practice, the levels of productivity that we would like to have and that will bring the full return on our investment? 

Here are some tips to help you reduce costs:

  1. These tools have become quite easy to manipulate you don’t require a centralized group, de-centralize function these packages have become mainstream. De-Centralize the use of these type of packages.
  2. You invest more than time and money when you decide to go with a UPK package. You are, in essence, investing in a product to explain and handle your business processes. With everything that you spend (time, money, and effort) learning the system, Negotiate hard with your vendor, Your goal should be to pay the right price and not what the vendor is telling you, I have seen clients get substantial savings on these type of products. The downside once you are committed to the UPK system even if it is not entirely suited to you and your staff. This makes it unlikely that you'll switch to a new system, even if that system might work better, because you've just spent so much time incorporating it into your organization. Change is expensive.
  3. If you buy use it throughout the whole project lifecycle, as recommended below:Snap 2013-02-10 at 14.56.20

 

Were it adds value to your implementation:

4) Users learn and absorb the new application and procedures much easier through the many training tools available through UPK.

5) Quality assurance testing is made simpler and virtually seamless by capturing test case scenarios using the Oracle UPK.

6) Process documentation is completed almost automatically by utilising UPK.

7) When creating your content always have the training plan in mind, and it should always address these points:

Learning objectives

Training and delivery approach per module

Audience per module

Course curriculum

Course schedule

Assumptions

8) ROI on UPK is usually delivered quickly, it will help you standardize application throughout the organization and help you reduce test script creation time and reduce documentation time

9) Maintain your walk away power. It is better to walk away from a not interesting price rather than making too large of a concession, that your organization will regret later.

Finally in my experiences, UPK can output Instructor manuals, student guides and quick reference cards directly from the same single recording exercise. The efficiency that can be gained across the project is obvious in terms of a single recording and development exercise supporting so many project activities. UPK could be financially justified on the generation of test scripts alone for a medium to large implementation. 

When it comes to supporting major application implementations, there is no substitute for experience. Hire people with experience to help you design your UPK strategy and deployment.

 

ERP Business Process Reengineering

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, General - Misc. Tips

 

As a business analyst one important skill set is understanding how to tackle Business Process Reengineering, aiming at improvements by means of elevating efficiency and effectiveness of the processes that exist within and across organizations. It is a fundamental and radical approach by either modifying or eliminating non-value adding activities.

The key steps involved in a BPR are:

  1. Defining the purpose and goal of the BPR project;
  2. Defining the scope of the project so as to include (or exclude) activities; A flowchart of the activities can assist to define the scope of the project;
  3. Identifying the requirements that will meet the needs of the clients;
  4. Assessing the environment - the position of competitors, prospective changes in technology, legislation or socio-economic factors;
  5. Redesigning the business processes and activities in light of the above;
  6. Implementing the redesigned processes;
  7. Monitoring the success/failure of the redesign.

Here is an example of an expense process that we implemented in a previous project (all proprietary info have been removed and transformed it  into a more generic process)

 

 

The division between IT and Business will dissapear

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

 

Companies today must protect themselves from security breaches, failed audits, malware, regulatory compliance, and theft of corporate and client data. New regulations and compliance requirements have necessitated the convergence of IT operations and security initiatives. A Gartner report recently noted that 'the elimination of desktop, server and network vulnerabilities requires a coordinated effort between the IT security and operations groups, because security touches everything and any IT activity should be influenced by security'. Standard perimeter defenses are no longer enough to protect businesses from new and more sophisticated threats. Until now, the industry has lacked centralized security solutions integrated with existing systems management solutions, built on a configuration management database.

There must be a diminishing of the division between IT and business, and this can only be achieved when IT assets are measured by the service they can provide to the organization.  

The industry should work collectively to address the need for convergence of security and system management technologies, to further reduce the cost and complexity of securing technology assets. These technologies should provide compliance assurance to satisfy an increasing number of regulations and harden systems against security breaches. Besides that, data needs to be protected to maintain employee productivity, and prevented from getting into the hands of thieves and malicious employees. Finally, threat mitigation to prevent malware from propagating and exploiting systems is another essential component.

That is why I am a believer that both services will be united in the next four years companies will have no choice to integrate business with IT.

Steps to maintain Tax books in FA

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog, Oracle Financial Applications

 

1.Companies can Create as many Tax Books as are needed:
 
1) Associate the new Tax Book to a corporate book.
Choose a depreciation calendar.
Corporate and Tax Books can have different calendars.
2.2) Set up asset categories for the new Tax Book:
Define default depreciation rules for each category.
Categories in corporate and Tax Books have 1:1 mapping.
3.3) Initially add assets to new Tax Book using Initial Mass Copy.
4.4) Perform asset additions and maintenance in the corporate book.
5) Periodically update Tax Book with new assets and transactions from the corporate book. 
6.6) Run depreciation for the Tax Book.

COA Design

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

When working on the Chart of Account design for your implementation or upgrade, I use Excel to simplify my job especially for the mapping

accounts 

Lessons learned

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

 

 

At the conclusion of your enterprise project, stakeholders including members of the project committee, business unit deployment teams and super users should be interviewed.  They share their experience of the project and their views on its success.  They also make suggestions for improvement.  The full results are contained in a company template Lessons Learned document. Following is a short list of certain observations that helped us to a successful project: 

Factors contributing to success
Effective, engaged sponsorship at local and executive level.  The Business Units made resources available and took the initiative in testing, training material review, design & production configuration.  We also used multiple vehicles to ensure recognition of effort.
Dedication of the team, both delivery & business.  They gave 150% to go live on time.
Ability to access senior management in order to push forward when needed.
Weekly Business status update conference calls helped build understanding, acceptance and commitment during deployment.

Priority Definition

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

 

 
A solution will be unable to fully address all the needs of all users 
Ranking and prioritizing each application requirement will allow the business to accurately evaluate and score each response
The following tables and outlines a possible framework you can use for your enterprise project for prioritizing the required application functionality:

 

Priority
Description
‘Must have’
Functionality is a component of the current system capability
Functionality is critical to executing key business processes and procedures
Functionality is aligned with the business strategy
Functionality is necessary to execute on planned and in-progress initiatives
‘Nice to have’
Functionality would facilitate or support current business processes
Functionality may be incorporated into operations in the next 2-4 years
‘Future Potential Requirement’
Functionality is not required to execute current operations or near-term strategies
Functionality may or may not be incorporated into operations in the future

 

 

Insourcing trends and tips

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

 

As organizations are realizing the ROI (return on investment) is sometimes not theyre when it comes to outsourcing your services, companies are re-evaluating their strategy. When you outsource services, it is usually non-core business activities such as IT, HR, Support. Most consulting firms such as IBM usually impose a certain process and methodology but most important you lose control and your agility on speed and business agility. In the saturday paper of the NY Times, insourcing has been on the rise this year as outsourcing services especially in technology has fallen by 30% this year some of the reasons cited was quality, rigid outsourcing processes and failed to return the savings promised.

Create a business case and be conservative with your numbers, understand the value of outsourcing and the impacts it will cause on your agility to deliver and your control of business change . Perform a Delta analysis of your company to help you analyze both options. Leverage R&D and government credits for the insourcing option.

Last thing when you outsource certain technologies your innovation may suffer, difficult decisions need to be analyzed and it some cases outsourcing is the right answer, just be careful and position this option with your vision and strategy. Most large consulting firms will start offering SAAS for their ERP, in my opinion this option will not make sense for most corporations since it will limit functionality by specific industry for them to leverage a one size fits all model. These integrated ERP systems have become the central nervous systems for most organizations and hard to transform back into a one size fits all model without impacting your business.

Gathering Requirements

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

The most difficult part of requirements gathering, is not the act of recording what the users want; it is the explanatory, developmental activity of helping users figure out what they want.

Steps to follow to develop your requirements

1- Identify key users who have the credibility to define the requirements for the software, then interview to get a set of requirements.

2- Build and show a simple interactive prototype

3- Fully extend the prototype to all functionality of the software.

4-Baseline the specs and put it under change control

5-Write the documentation and write a seperate non-user interface requirements for algorithms, interactions with other hardware and software, also put this document under change control.

Be sure the users understand that the prototype is just a prototype. One risk of creating a Prototype is accidentally raising unrealistic expectations about the future progress of the project.

 

Integration Testing Approach

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

 

The following diagram summarises the 'V' integration testing approach, that I have used on my projects.

Each blue lozenge on the left represents a requirement or specification baseline.  The corresponding lozenge(s) on the right represent a test level which verifies or validates the implementation against the requirement or specification. 

The green boxes represent reviews at which the artefact is approved and baselined, i.e. becomes subject to formal change control.The diagonal dark blue arrows, making up the “V” show at a high level the flow of traceability.  Requirements traceability is a technique used to provide relationships between requirements, design and implementation of a system in order to manage the effect of change and ensure the success of the delivered systems.

 

 

int_testing

 

I have received multiple emails on Enterprise Software(ERP, CRM, EPM) cutover , in the next couple of blogs will write about go-live readiness, project plan, the importance of data cleansing and cutover dependencies with the business counterparts.

 

 

 

OUM differs from the AIM Methodology

on Tuesday, 01 January 2013. Posted in Business Analysis, Blog

A person asked a very good question at this year’s OpenWorld, how OUM differs from AIM in term of methodology and deliverables?

AIM retirement date was January 31, 2011.  Going forward, OUM supersedes AIM.

One of the big advantages it know entails BI and EPM projects within the methodology and follows Oracle’s strategy  to bring all applications under the same methodology and in v5.3 it know includes PeopleSoft, JDE and Siebel products.

OUM is an iterative methodology it follows best practices. An iterative approach embraces requirements change by building processes into the project that allow for refining requirements while also maintaining a strong focus on cost and scope containment.

Since OUM is an iterative approach to implementing software systems, it is essential that practitioners first understand the concepts of iterations “Think a little - do a little. Think a little more – do a little more.”

Below is OUM Implement Core Workflow View was created to identify the core tasks within the Implement Focus Area. This view should serve to accelerate the understanding of OUM by new practitioners and help to keep project teams focused on these tasks. The delta with AIM is of medium complexity.

oumflow

 

 

OUM emphasis in on a graphical representation, this is done intentionally since we all know that text can be misinterpreted. Below is an example that comes with the System Context template of OUM (Deliverable RD.005)

systemdiagrampos

 

The Above System Context Diagram is a graphical representation depicting the boundary of the system and its association with external entities called actors.  An actor can be one of 4 types (i.e., human, another system, a clock representing a time-based event, or a hardware device).  These actors have the ability of sending or receiving information and/or events into or out of the system.  The key information represented on the association line between the actor and the system is at a summary-level and shows an arrow indicating the direction of the information flow.

Oracle Partners meeting the access requirements described (You must be an Oracle Gold partner unlike AIM were it was readily available) to obtain the OUM materials.  To access the method pack, related collateral, and training courses:  

  1. Go to the OPN Portal.
  2. Select the “Partners (Login Required)” tab.
  3. Login using the your OPN Portal username and 12 digit PIN.
  4. Select the “Engage with Oracle” tab.
  5. From the Engage with Oracle page,  select the appropriate <Knowledge Zone Category Name> tab.
  6. From the <Knowledge Zone Category Name> tab, select the appropriate “Knowledge Zone”.
  7. From the <Knowledge Zone Name> page, select the “Implement” tab.
  8. From the Implement tab, scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Access more”.
  9. From the <Knowledge Zone Name> page, scroll down to the PRODUCT INFORMATION section.
  10.  Locate the “Methodology” or “Methodologies” sub-section.
  11.  Select the “Oracle Unified Method (OUM)” link to access and download the materials mentioned above

The zip file is encrypted.  Please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to request the password.  Please be aware that it may take a few days for the OPN team to process your request. 

 

OUM obliges a standardization of implementations across all Oracle products a good thing in my view , you can also tailor OUM to support your specific project situation. With its ready-made templates, guidelines, and scalable work breakdown structure,the emphasis on graphical representation and the iterative approach are the main improvements over AIM. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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