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E-Business Suite Release 12.1.2 now available

Last week Oracle announced E-Business Suite Release 12.1.2, also known as “12.1 RUP 2″, or Patch 7303033. This release update pack (RUP) combines error corrections, statutory/regulatory updates, and functionality enhancements into a consolidated, suite-wide patch set.  This release is a maintenance pack and can only be installed on top of an existing EBS 12.1 environment.

The following sections describe the new features to R12.1.2 that are of particluar interest to Prōject’s clients and partners. Note that there are no new features specific to Project Costing and Project Billing.

Oracle Project Foundation

Enhanced Project List Page

The Project List page is often the main hub that users interact with when accessing Oracle Projects. In an effort to make this page more informative and streamline access to common functions, several enhancements have been added to the Project List page.

Main Project List Region

The following enhancements apply to the main region of the project list page:

  • To improve efficiencies and usability, the Action button available in the Project Home Page is now also available in the project list. Users are no longer required to drill down before they can execute an action against a selected project.
  • To provide easier access to commonly used reporting values, Quarter to Date and Year to Date values are now available as attributes displayed in the list.

Worklist and Notifications Region

A new Worklist and Notification region is available on the Project List page. The new region displays worklist items and notifications assigned to the user across all projects for which the user has an active role. Productivity is increased as users are no longer required to drill down into individual projects to retrieve notifications and review items that need attention.

Report Views Region

A new Report Views region allows users to quickly access commonly used reports and queries. Users first create and save the reports using the Alternative Search page. All saved reports are then available for reuse and can be retrieved directly from the project list page. This feature not only provides quicker access to data but also saves time by allowing users to save queries rather than redefining them each time they need to view the results.

Bookmarks Region

A new Bookmark region allows users to streamline retrieval of project-related items they commonly need to access. Once users select an item to bookmark, the item appears in the bookmark list until the user removes it. The list of bookmarks is specific to each user based on the items they choose to bookmark. The bookmark region is not available on all pages.

Streamlined Searches

The following enhancements were designed to streamline project searches:

  • Simple and Advanced Search results are now displayed in the main region of the project list page. This allows users to view the results of their queries and still have access to other information and links provided on the page.
  • New criteria values such as “Contains” and “Greater Than”, “Less Than” along with new filter attributes enhance the user’s ability to create personalised views.

New Hover Pop Up Windows

An exciting new feature, called hover pop-up windows, allow users to obtain additional information simply by hovering their cursor over selected fields on the Project List, Edit Budget and Edit Forecast pages. A small window will pop up on the screen providing additional information that was previously only available via drill downs.

Oracle Project Management

Reporting Performance Improvements

With Release 12.1.2, project users will greatly benefit from a dedicated effort to improve the overall performance of the Project Performance Reporting feature.

Enhancements include:

  • New configuration options allow users to control the data volume generated by the summarisation processes. The options provide the ability to turn off summarisation for unused currencies and calendars.
  • A new concurrent process allows users to purge old financial and workplan versions that are no longer needed. This again reduces the volume of data to be summarised.
  • To help improve the performance of the PRC: Update Project Performance Data (UPPD) process, a new concurrent program, PRC: Launch Update Project Performance has been introduced. This new concurrent program divides and groups the projects into manageable batches. It sends the batch name as a parameter to the UPPD process and launches the process automatically for each batch. The UPPD process will process the project performance data for only those projects that are part of the batch. The UPPD process can still be run as before, but when launched by the new program, UPPD processes the daily load of projects more efficiently.
  • A new client extension works in conjunction with the new launch process described able to allow customers to select projects for processing. This gives system administrators more control to schedule project updates in accordance with business needs and priorities.
  • Technical changes were made to improve load balancing and increase the degree of parallelism.

MSP Integration Enhancements

In Release 12.1.2 there are several enhancements to improve the stability and extend the coverage of integration with Microsoft Projects.

Download Baseline Cost

The original baseline cost for a project and the latest published cost can now be sent to MSP in separate fields. This will give users insight into how planned costs are changing over the life of the project and provide greater visibility into performance.

Download Period to Date/Year to Date Cost

Government entities and other companies require that Period to Date and Year to Date cost values be shown in MSP. Therefore this data has been added to the interface. Both raw cost and burdened cost amounts are supported.

Enhanced Change Management

With this release, significant work has been done to improve the usability and enhance change control features specifically targeted for the Engineering and Construction industry.

Streamlined Control Item Definition

Various control item types can be created to track different types of issues and changes. For each control item type users select regions of data to be included on future issue and change documents. With this release, new regions are available to streamline data entry. By combining the right regions, organisations can ensure that pertinent data is captured for each document created.

New Supplier Impact Region

A new supplier region provides improved planning and control for changes that impact subcontracted work. New cost fields (estimated, quoted, negotiated and final) are available in the supplier region to track negotiations with the subcontractors. An audit log maintained as the cost fields are updated can be used to track how negotiations are progressing and to identify problems that could lead to cost overruns or schedule delays.

Document Versioning

Change documents, particularly ones with high impact, can go through many iterations of review before final estimates are accepted and approved. In order to track this review process, all change documents now support versioning. At any given point in time, users can take a snapshot of the entire document. When a snapshot is taken, a new document version is created to track future updates.

Potential Change Order Report for Customer Approval

When a change request requires external approval, a new XML Publisher report can be generated and faxed or emailed to the reviewing parties. A new feature allows users to lock the change document in order to prevent updates while the document is in a pending approval state. To support review and approval history tracking, a potential change order report can be generated and attached to each version of the change request document. An automatic numbering feature can be used to track the number of change documents presented to the customer.

Task Creation to Track Change Order Work and Costs

Frequently organisations wish to track work and costs related to a change order separately from work performed under the original contract. Work for the change order may be subject to different billing terms and conditions or the organisation may have internal reasons for segregating the costs. If the work for example is the result of on-site damages caused by subcontractor negligence, the organisation may wish to recoup the costs from the subcontractor (see below Deductions to Subcontractor Invoices).

To better support this business practice, users can now create or initiate the creation of new tasks directly from the change order document. If the person creating the change document also has authority to create new tasks, both operations can be completed at the same time. If the person creating the change document does not have authority to create new tasks, then the new task is submitted for approval. While the task is pending approval, it can be used in impact regions of the change document but the change document cannot be approved until the task has been approved.
Large projects can have a high number of change documents. In order to support quick retrieval for review, edit or approval, new search criteria is provided to query by supplier or document status.

New Search Capabilities

Large projects can have a high number of change documents. In order to support quick retrieval for review, edit or approval, new search criteria is provided to query by supplier or document status.

Project Manager Dashboard for Maintenance of Procurement Deliverables

A new feature in Release 12.1.1 provided support for the tracking and monitoring of subcontract deliverables that place automatic holds on subcontractor invoices in the case of non-compliance. For example, if a subcontractor fails to provide their insurance certificate in a timely fashion per the subcontract terms, holds are automatically place on incoming invoices based on the contractual dates of the deliverable. The holds are automatically released once the subcontract deliverable compliance is reinstated.

Also in 12.1.1, a new Payment Controls workbench in Oracle Projects allows the project manager to view a checklist of all subcontract deliverables to assist in evaluating the subcontractor status prior to releasing monthly payments.

As project managers are frequently responsible for subcontractor management, in 12.1.2, the Payment Controls workbench has been enhanced to allow project managers to directly update subcontract deliverables. A project manager with proper security privileges can update existing deliverables or define new deliverables to track future subcontract obligations

Improved Supplier Invoice Payment Controls

The Payment Controls workbench introduced in Release 12.1.1 also gave project managers the ability to review supplier invoices and manually release pay when paid and deliverable payment holds at their discretion regardless of whether the deliverable has been fulfilled or whether the customer has paid for the subcontracted work.

The workbench has now been enhanced to give project managers the ability to place any invoice on hold at their discretion. This gives project managers more control over when and how much each subcontractor is being paid each period. This helps project managers ensure the quality of subcontractor work and also helps them manage cash flow.

Deductions to Subcontractor Invoices

Frequently, general contractors need to recoup costs from subcontractors. The general contractor may have provided fuel to the subcontractor at the work site or the general contractor may have paid for the subcontractor’s license to operate in a new state. With less frequency, the general contractor may need to recoup costs for damages caused by the subcontractor.

To automate the recoupment process, Oracle Projects has introduced deduction functionality. A deduction can be manually entered, uploaded via an application programming interface (API) or created by selecting expenditure items for the expenditure item inquiry window. When a deduction is approved, it is interfaced to Oracle Payables as a debit memo. To recoup payment, the debit memo is applied to future invoices submitted by the subcontractor.

Project Security within Oracle Purchasing

It is common in project-centric industries like Engineering and Construction for buyers to be assigned to projects rather than to commodities or item categories. Buyers only have authority to transact on behalf of the projects to which they are assigned. To help enforce this business rule, project level security is being introduced in Oracle Purchasing. When the new security option is enabled, procurement users will only be allowed to view and update procurement documents that are related to a project on which the user has an active role.

Planning by Fiscal Calendars

Many government contractors and entities use fiscal GL calendars that recognise the standard 5-4-4 calendar which consists of 5 weeks, 4 weeks and 4 weeks per quarter. Prior to this enhancement the Even spread curve option recognised each month as the first to the last day and therefore did not accommodate the 5-4-4 fiscal calendar. As a result, the forecasted hours for a resource were not properly distributed across the time phased plan.

To alleviate this problem, a new option, Fiscal Calendar, has been added in addition to Curve for spreading amounts across planning periods. This will allow users to more accurately represent time phased plans without requiring manual entry of override amounts.

Planning by Manual Entry

Government contractors are required to forecast remaining work as accurately as possible to aid comparisons and adherence to submitted plans. Frequently manual entry of time phased planning amounts is the only way to accurately reflect the intended work patterns of resources. This is why PMBOK notes non-derived, i.e. manual, entry of estimate to complete (ETC) values as a standard requirement.

Prior to this enhancement, forecasting required the use of a spread curve and during forecast generation manually entered planning amounts were overridden. With this release, a new “Copy ETC from Plan” checkbox allow users to bypass the use of spread curves when forecasting cost. When the new option is enabled, all time phased values entered on the workplan are honoured.

Spread Curve Updates via Task Assignment API

Users frequently need to change the Spread Curve associated with a resource assignment. Prior to this enhancement the user was required to navigate to each task and manually update each assignment. To aid automation, the Update Task Assignment API has been enhanced to support updates to the Spread Curve value. This provides users with the flexibility to develop mass update capabilities and eliminate time consuming manual entry.

Default Option to Allow “Assignment Same As Task Duration”

To simplify the interface of project assignments, the “Assignment Same as Task Duration” flag can now be enabled at the project level. When most resource assignments share the same duration as the task, users can now enable the project flag rather than being required to update the flag for each individual task.

Oracle Project Resource Management

Update of Start and End Dates for Multiple Requirements

Resource Managers are often required to make updates to the requirements they manage. Commonly updated attributes include team role, staffing priority and requirement start and end dates. The Update Requirements page provides users with a single page to update multiple assignments. However, prior to this release, the requirement start and end dates could not be updated from this page. Users were required to navigate to the Update Duration page for each requirement to update the dates. As Resource Managers frequently manage a large number of requirements, this process was very inefficient. Therefore, the Update Requirement page has been enhanced to support the update of requirement dates.

Select Multiple Roll Ups in a Personalised View

Searching for resources and projects is a very common task for Resource Managers. Therefore, a streamlined search process makes their job much easier. In the past, personalised views could be pointed to an organisation but the search results returned not only the selected organisation but also all subordinate organisations that roll up in the hierarchy they selected.

This release of Oracle Projects has added a new search interface which allows the user to specify which organisation hierarchy they wish to search and at which level of the hierarchy they start their search. This enhanced approach to searching for projects and resources will greatly streamline searches and allow users to find needed information much more quickly by only returning relevant results.

Support for Schedule Shifts while Maintaining Work Patterns

Oracle Project Resource Management offers the ability to specify particular work patterns for resources that can change over the life of a task. For example, a resource might be assigned to a task for 5 hours the first week and then 10 hours the following week, and finally the standard 40 hours per week for the third week. However, project schedules often change due to unforeseen circumstances and frequently tasks are delayed.

Prior to this enhancement if shift duration is used to delay the start of a task, for example, by one week, the work pattern was not properly being retained. In the above example, a shift of one week due to a project delay would change the work pattern to 10 hours, 40 hours and 40 hours. The planned 5 hours for the first week of the task is dropped and 40 hours for the third week is derived from the default calendar.

With this enhancement, the work patterns is retained. In our example, regardless of when the task starts, the resource will work 5 hours the first week, 10 hours the second week and 40 hours the third.

Updateable Fields on Scheduled People Page

To improve productivity, the Scheduled People page has been transformed from a read only page to an updateable page. Certain fields, including Start Date, End Date, City, Region and Location ID, can now be directly updated without requiring drill down to the resource requirement or assignment.

Oracle Grants Accounting

Federal Financial Report (FFR)

Most federal grants require recipients to periodically submit reports on their grant’s financial progress. In the United States, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have consolidated the two most common financial reports, the Financial Status Report (FSR or SF–269/SF–269A) and the Federal Cash Transaction Report (FCTR or SF– 272/SF–272A), into a single form. OMB is requiring that federal agencies transition to the FFR by September 30, 2009.

To comply with this change, Oracle Grants Accounting has introduced a new FFR report. To allow for easy transition, the Financial Status Report and the Federal Cash Transaction Report are still available for use or for data verification.

22 Dec, 2009 by

E-Business Suite

2 thoughts on: “E-Business Suite Release 12.1.2 now available”

  1. Ryan Denner December 24, 2009 1:04 AM

    Great post! Do you have any screenshots?

  2. Barry Goodsell December 24, 2009 8:05 AM

    Hi Ryan,
    We are looking to upgrade one of our R12.1.1 instances after Christmas, so I can post some screenshots then. Is there any area of the new functionality that you are particularly interested in?

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