Note: this is a personal post, reflecting on some of the big changes that took place in the EPM community since my last blog post back in 2013. Going forward I will focus more on the technology and functional side as it relates to EPM processes. Please be aware that my original blog domain, EPMStream on the Blogger platform, which had been established in 2011 has been retired.
The Times They Are A Changin’
After taking a more than 4 year break from blogging about EPM topics at epmstream.blogspot.com, I’m finally back to sharing thoughts, ideas and (hopefully) insight. Wow, quite a bit has changed in the EPM world during my absence from writing, the biggest change was probably the adoption of the EPM Cloud – who would have thought that it would turn out like this?! ODI had been around for a while back then, but everyone was still using FDM (Classic) and/or ERP Integrator because FDMEE had not even been released back then!
Making a Move
I think I had been at this point many times throughout my career: I love consulting but I hate the travel (most of the time at least). Back in 2013 I had just been traveling for a while once again and it came to the point where the consulting lifestyle just didn’t mesh as well with my personal life anymore. During this time of struggle when I was about to “close a door”, another one unexpectedly opened for me and all of a sudden it wasn’t a choice between consulting OR spending more time at home, but instead it was a choice for consulting AS WELL as spending more time at home. Leaving my friends at MindStream Analytics had been a hard decision, but it was the best thing I could have done – and especially my kids were really excited that I was able to spend a whole lot more time with them on a daily basis – and not just on the weekends!
Taking a Temporary Break from Hyperion
So, what was behind the door that had opened for me and brought so much quality of life? Interestingly, my primary focus back in 2013 was away from Hyperion and working with OneStream instead. I’ve had a fantastic opportunity to support the great team over in Rochester, MI, working along with their very first customer and got to experience the early stages of this CPM platform which was more than impressive. This was OneStream XF’s version 2.5 – a lot has happened since and if you haven’t taken a look yet, make sure you do so! Another 4-5 years from now for OneStream – well, CEO Tom Shea always said: “The sky is the limit” and from everything I’ve seen back then and what I’m hearing now, that’s very close to the truth. These next several years my goal is to contribute more in writing again – and I’m sure there will be plenty about OneStream as well.
Back to the California Sun
After this project ended, unfortunately I lost touch with the OneStream team since I decided to leave Ann Arbor, MI, and move back to California – this time the Sacramento area. While I was contemplating to move out there (and to escape the brutal winter that year in MI), another great opportunity came along which could not have been a bigger coincidence: the State of California was implementing Oracle’s Public Sector Planning & Budgeting (PSPB) and needed someone to design and implement their integration processes between Peoplesoft, a Planning BSO cube, a corresponding ASO cube as well as a process to Writeback the journals to the Commitment Control ledgers in Peoplesoft. Considering the scope of the project, implementing both a new ERP system as well as an EPM system, this has been the largest project I’ve been involved in to date.
Downtown San Francisco
During this time, I’ve also started my 4th project at Salesforce.com, right downtown in the Financial District of San Francisco. The Hyperion Optimization project required a redesign of several existing Hyperion Planning applications, streamlined the data transfer processes between them as well as an outbound integration to a cutting-edge technology framework called Wave which turned out to be a fundamental component of the Salesforce’s new Lightning Experience. This was great learning opportunity as I spent many hours discussing, arguing and “solution-ing” with my colleague and friend Dmitry Kryuk and the brilliant team over at Salesforce. (In fact while I’m writing this we are all working together on a project to Capitalize Sales Commissions based on the new AS 340 which is going to be enforced soon.)
Learning New Products
Besides my main focus during this time being on Oracle Data Integrator (ODI), I’ve also had the chance to get first hand exposure of two tools that had just been released:
- Oracle Financial Data Quality Management, Enterprise Edition (FDMEE): back in June 2013 I had been part of a small group that was invited to take a sneak peak at the soon to be released application. Back then, parity with FDM Classic had not been fully reached yet, but the product already included the most relevant features. One thing that I certainly enjoyed about FDMEE was that underneath the covers, ODI performed the heavy lifting. Since I had worked with ODI for 5 years by then and even written the curriculum for 123Olap’s class ODI for EPM Administrators, I had gained extensive knowledge in how to configure the underlying Topology, interpret error messages and build efficient integration and automation processes.
- Account Reconciliation Management (ARM): one of the biggest drivers for my personal learning and growth were the key projects that my business colleague and friend Anthony Lascola from American Partners had brought to me. I first got to know him back in 2009 when I was working on the worldwide 5th implementation of ERP Integrator. After that he brought me into various projects which have often been bleeding edge. One of the most important ones was an ARM implementation in which I’ve built the relevant integrations from Peoplesoft to ARM, teaching the ARM consultant the integration side of FDMEE and ODI while he brought me up to speed on the inner workings of ARM. My main takeaway from this project was that this new application for improving the account reconciliation process would become the first real EPM Target Application for me that I would be able to add a significant amount of value. I realized that the key to implementing ARM in a way that supports the accounting processes most effectively is data integration: load and map data from various GL data sources, upload subledger information and perform tasks to optimize the process even further. ARM has since been one of my main focus areas and most likely will continue with the increasing number of ARM/ARCS implementations out there.
Growing a Business
A successful Consulting business completely depends on the strength of their consultants. Training and nurturing skills in others is a crucial part in building a better practice. During one summer I had the pleasure of working with an exceptionally bright Junior Consultant who helped me build and improve some of the software applications that I had built over the years. This individual has added a tremendous amount of value to these applications and he seemed like a perfect candidate for starting a career as an EPM consultant, however, he decided to not join me full-time, but to try out something else. In retrospective, this turned out to be a very strategically relevant decision since the skill set that he built at his future employer turned out to be very valuable, considering a new endeavor that he and I had started recently.
FinTech Innovations is finally coming back to its roots: to innovate Finance Technology by developing solutions that improve efficiencies and allow for more effective implementations. This has always been the goal for the team at FinTech Innovations and we believe that we have delivered great solutions for our customers. Of course we also want to take things a few steps further. Stay tuned to learn more about our next steps on this blog in the near future as we have recently been working on creating an application which will be very helpful when it comes to troubleshooting data processing errors in FDMEE. So, that’s it for now, we will be in touch!