Expertise Beyond the Numbers

Leveraging Attributes in EPBCS for Dynamic Reporting and Dashboards

One of the primary goals for any Oracle EPM application is to help companies spend less time compiling data and more time analyzing it. This is especially true for our aerospace and defense clients (e.g. government contracting) where there is a large spectrum of needs for reporting and data visualization to enhance their analytical capabilities.

While, Oracle’s EPBCS product has out-of-the-box functionality for dashboarding and reporting, it can be difficult to maximize their potential without the correct configuration of the product to suit complex reporting needs. For example, government contractors often have projects that span across different states and countries, departments, customers, and contract types. Wouldn’t it be nice to have on-demand reporting of your choice for each of these? Here we will break down how to create attributes and techniques for using them to organize your company’s data for all of your reporting demands.

Creating Attributes and Attaching Them to Dimensions

Let’s use the example of projects. Without attributes, the only way to view slices of your data would be to look at base level projects, roll ups of projects, or maybe just the top-of-the-house member to see totals. With attributes, you can create groupings within the dimension and then leverage the groupings in combination with the dimension to dynamically provide the complete list of projects within them.

We can create attributes for departments, geographical locations, and contract types. Then we can run a report fixed on Cost Reimbursable contracts and immediately see the financial data for all projects that are tagged with the CR contract type. Creating and attaching these attributes is actually very intuitive.

Creating the Attributes

Step 1: Navigate to the dimension editor and select your project dimension. Then click on ‘Custom Attributes’.

Step 2: Click the ‘+’ button, enter the desired name, and data type ‘Text’.

Step 3: Click on the newly created attribute and use the ‘Add Child’ button to create the different types of contracts that the projects have.

Step 4: Repeat this process to create all required attribute types

Attaching the Attributes to the Projects

It is recommended to utilize Smart View dimension editor to attach attributes to the project members. This is much faster than doing it on the web interface and allows to make mass updates all at once.

Step 1: Open Smart View dimension editor for the desired dimension. In this case it is our Project dimension

Step 2: Click on member selection and change the dimension in the top left to be ‘Member Properties’. Then select the desired attribute fields and move them over to the right pane.

Step 3: Select the desired attribute members for each category and submit the changes. After a database refresh these will be ready to use for reporting!

(Attribute fields are highlighted in green)

Utilizing Attributes in Dashboards

Once the attributes are created and attached to the project dimension members the fun really starts! The flexibility to break out your project data is now available. The same method that the ‘Member Properties’ were pulled in Smart View can be used throughout the application to create dynamic reports and web forms.

If you have worked with dashboards in EPBCS then you know they are pretty straightforward. You just create a web form displaying the intersections you want to see, and then you can attach this form to different dashboard layouts. They have bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, etc.

Below is an example of a very simple web form:

You can see that I have my Customer attribute dimension in the rows. Now I can head over to the dashboards and attach this to one.

Step 1: Use the navigator button and select ‘Dashboards’.

Step 2: Navigate to a dashboard and click the ‘Designer’ button. This will open up a side bar with all the web forms available to attach to a dashboard.

Step 3: Select your new web form with the Customer attribute and click ‘Save’. In this example I have my dashboard set as a pie chart.

Step 4: Experiment running the new dashboard and enjoy! You can drill into ‘Customer’ on the right side and see the new revenue breakout based on how you’ve attached the attributes.

Utilizing Attributes in Reports

Leveraging attributes within reports is just as easy as web forms. You can put your attribute dimensions into the rows or columns of a report and immediately have access to the new breakdowns of your data.

For example, you can take a report which displays Project data in the rows and simply switch this dimension with the Customer attribute dimension. Set the Customer attribute to display bottom level descendants and run the report on the top-of-the-house project dimension member. This is a quick way to reengineer an existing/functioning report to display your data by any of the newly created attributes. To make it even more convenient you could move the Project dimension to be selectable so it could be run at varying rollup levels or at the top.

Conclusion

While we have seen a great deal of impact for our government contracting clients, organizations in any industry can make use of this demonstrated feature. We have also proved out that Oracle EPBCS applications can smoothly handle a large number of these attributes to allow for diverse reporting capabilities. We encourage you to think outside the box and experiment with what they can do for your organization. Use attributes to keep your dimension structures as efficient as possible and take your data analytics to the next level!

Need some help with EPBCS? Connect with our team today.

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