Review of Oracle BI Applications 7.9.6 and Project Analytics
We would like to welcome Tony Heljula as our first guest Blogger. Tony is a Technical Architect for Peak Indicators, specialists in the Oracle Business Intelligence product stack.
There has been quite a bit of interest surrounding the new BI Applications 7.9.6 release, one reason in particular is because of new Project Analytics application.
First things first, whenever you get your hands on a new release of BI Applications you want to know if there are any general improvements to the technical components and install process. I’m glad to say that there are some improvements:
- With Informatica Power Center 8.6, there is no longer an additional Service Pack to install
- The Oracle Data-Warehouse Administration Console (DAC) has a progress bar when importing metadata
- The Oracle DAC software is now a separate installable component (on both Linux/Unix and Windows)
We tested out the BI Apps Project Analytics install process using both the Oracle EBS Vision 11 and Vision 12 environments; the good news is that it was a pretty straight forward exercise – the ETL full load went through seamlessly except one hiccup where there was a duplicate record in the Employee SCD staging table… a quick fix required, before restarting the ETL.
The Project Analytics full load took approx 1.5 hours (when we ran an ETL that also included all the Financials modules however, it did take quite a bit longer).
Out of the Box Content
So now on to the out-of-the-box (OOTB) content for Project Analytics:
There are seven Subject Areas available for Project Analytics covering Project Costs, Billing, Funding etc. These are quite neat and concise Subject Areas and they only only contain facts/dimension that relate to eachother, so it is not possible for an End User to write an invalid report. Excellent!
In addition, there is an overview Subject Area called Project Performance which contains the key metrics from the all the various stars, together with a common set of dimensions (so again, all the dimensions relate to all the facts, and vice-versa). You can use this Subject Area for the majority of your summary reports and then, if you want to analyse figures in more detail, navigate to another report coming from one of the more detailed Subject Areas.
I took a quick look at the BI Repository (RPD), it was good to see that all the time series calculations used by Project Analytics actually use the new time series functions available in the Business Model! This is quite different from the other applications which continue to use the old method.
The OOTB dashboards look pretty decent – they are are targetted at Project Management, Project Executives and Public Sector. Not sure exactly how the Public Sector ones are different, they look quite similar to the others. Essentially the Project Executive dashboards start at Project Organization level and allow you to drill down to Project level. The Project Management ones start at Project level.
As usual, the OOTB Dashboards have many many reports on each page, probably more than you would ever want in a live implementation, but they certainly get the message across and make good use of a variety of features (column/view selectors, bubble charts, guided navigation etc). One neat new feature is the ability to switch between currencies dynamically on the Dashboards, you can choose one of five different currencies (Global, Reporting, Project currency etc).
There is also a new range of Project Intelligence Foundation dashboard pages available for each Subject Area. These are a new concept with BI Applications 7.9.6 and are more for statistical analytics, mining and trending rather than the typical OOTB Dashboards which are more based on business process. You should check them out!
The only disappointment was with the way some of the OOTB Reports were developed. Quite a few are hard-coded to bring back results for a single Project Manager (Ms. Anne Hamilton!). So if you want to test things out as a different user then you have to override the hard-coding, either by modifying each report or by setting new default Dashboard Prompt values on each Dashboard Page.
Overall, it has to be said that Project Analytics is an excellent addition to the suite of BI Applications, the content is thorough and you can see a lot of effort has been made into providing a visually pleasing set of Dashboards with a solid best-practice architecture underneath.