Revamping Enterprise Reporting – Overview of Oracle’s EPRCS
December 10, 2018
For those who are still dealing with the frustrations from Financial Reporting Studio (FR), you will come to find that Oracle has given us an application we can all get behind: Enterprise Performance Reporting Cloud Service (EPRCS). EPRCS is Oracle’s application for secure and collaborative reporting. With the same look & feel as the other EPM Cloud applications (EPBCS/FCCS/ARCS/etc.), EPRCS provides a streamlined, systematic approach for defining, authoring, reviewing, and publishing financial, management and regulatory reports. EPRCS operates in a single, cloud environment allowing multiple users to collaborate and combine data to construct an overall report. EPRCS accomplishes this through the use of the “Reporting Packages” feature, which contains the ability to combine data and documents from Microsoft Office, and/or integrate with on-premises software or cloud sources, such as other Oracle EPM applications. Moreover, EPRCS delivers an effective approach to manage the reporting process on a comprehensive & detailed level.
Key Features in EPRCS
When working in EPRCS, administrators and users will interact primarily with the “Reports”, “Reporting Packages”, and “Library” icons to create and access all reports to effectively manage the reporting cycle. The “Reports” and “Reporting Packages” icons allow administrators and users to create reports, which can be shared amongst one another, creating a collaborative reporting environment. Furthermore, both formats incorporate the ability to create reports using the dimensionality from alternate cloud sources or a custom application, as well as the ability to upload reports via Microsoft Office through the use of Smart View. The difference between the two icons is that the “Reports” icon is used for a singular report, which is created from a singular document or source. This can be useful for a standardized report that is sent out monthly, quarterly, etc. “Reporting Packages” is more of a collaborative format of reporting that generates a singular report that is compiled from multiple documents or sources. The unique aspect about “Reporting Packages” and what makes this functionality advantageous is the ability for an administrator to control, monitor and engage in a step-by-step process within the reporting cycle. This functionality allows an administrator to assign tasks, due dates, and provide commentary through each phase of developing the package. In addition, it allows administrators to assign Owners, Reviewers, Signers, and Viewers to singular or multiple sections (i.e. documents/sources) within said reporting package. Additionally, when a user is assigned a certain responsibility, in any phase, it will show an alert in their “Messages” icon. When they click on the icon it will show the notification stating what task is needed of them and the due date in which it needs to be completed.
Reporting Packages – Detailed Breakdown
Reporting Packages are outlined in 3 Phases:
- Author Phase
- Review Phase
- Sign Off Phase
These three phases allow administrators (or key report managers) to oversee all reports, and provide the ability for an administrator to control the reporting process.
In the “Author” phase, an administrator can grant access or limit a user’s ability to interact within the Reporting Package. An administrator can control which users have access to specific sections or documents within the Reporting Package. For example if a manager was working in Reporting Packages, and was updating the Quarterly Financial Reporting Package, he/she can assign the ability for certain users to upload any financial data/documents related to the Income Statement, but limit those users by not granting them access to interact with the Balance Sheet data/documents section. The benefits of the Author Phase are:
- Content Management – Provides a central repository for users and version control, which is the ability to store previous versions of a document if said document is updated by another user.
- Flexible Workflow – Provides content to be developed collaboratively. An author (user) can update the document, while an approver can review and edit the content. In addition, an administrator can set up due dates, various levels of approvals, and any commentary relating to the document or section.
- Process Reporting – Ability to view the author phase status on two levels:
- Summary Level – Provides statuses for the entire author phase, such as the overall completion percentage of the author phase, a summary of the status of all the documents and sections, and the due date and time remaining for the author phase.
- Doclet (Document) Level – Provides the status for each document. The administrator can view if the document is being edited, and view the workflow level of the document, such as the assigned users and the due dates by user.
In the “Review” phase an administrator assigns a user the ability to review specific documents within a constructed timeline.
The Review phase allows the Reviewers to provide commentary, which alerts the Authors of any questions, changes, or feedback a Reviewer might have. The Review phase is comprised of two key components, “Review Cycles” & “Review Instances”.
- Review Cycles allow Reviewers to analyze the report content and add commentary. The owner of the Reporting Package defines the start and end dates of review cycles when creating the report package. During the report package creation process, you can add multiple review cycles, which allow for multiple levels of review. For example, a review phase can have one cycle for management review and a second cycle for executive review.
- Review Instances are snapshots of the report package, used within review cycles. When a review instance is created, the system compiles all “Checked in” doclets into a draft version of the report. Additionally, the owner of the report package can create multiple review instances. For example, if you create a review instance and discover that a key doclet was not checked in, the doclet author can check-in the doclet and then create another review instance before starting the review cycle.
The benefits of the Review Phase are:
- Multiple Review Cycles – Multiple reviewers can review different versions of the report. You can also vary the review assignments. A user can be assigned to review the entire report, a section of the report, or a single document.
- Threaded Commentary – Provides feedback by commenting on different areas of the report. These comments are threaded so other reviewers can participate in the discussion. Reviewers can provide attachments or links to their comments to provide supporting details. Reviewers can close comments after the outstanding issue is addressed.
- Multiple Platforms – A Reviewer can comment on reports in two ways:
- Desktop or mobile web browser
- Microsoft Office, via Oracle Smart View
Sign Off Phase
Lastly, the “Sign Off” phase enables an administrator to “lock-down” the Reporting Package content and attain a finalized sign off. In the Sign Off phase, the administrator locks the overall Reporting Package to prevent further changes. The Reporting Package “Signers” review the final report and either “Sign Off” or “Reject” the report’s content. If the report is rejected, the report package owner can unlock and correct the report content. If the report is signed off the process is complete, and the report is ready for publication. This phase can also be completed through multiple platforms as listed above. Moreover, Reporting Package owners can view a summary of the sign off phase. The summary can include completion percentage, number of sign offs, rejections, due dates, days remaining, as well as which users have signed off and any sign off notes.
In all, Oracle has provided an enhanced solution from the old Financial Reporting Studio to provide a collaborative format of reporting in EPRCS. From a managerial standpoint, it truly does provide an effective way to monitor and control the reporting process at all levels for internal financial/management reporting, as well as external regulatory reporting. It gives a manager the ability to have complete oversight of the process every step of the way, and creates an auditable trail in doing so. In a nutshell, EPRCS is a more capable and superior solution for reporting than FR and provides additional, needed functionality that FR just does not have. Furthermore, EPRCS accommodates our needs with a familiar, user-friendly interface similar to EPBCS. Accompanying all of this functionality with a more dynamic integration of Oracle’s Smart View, you now have a full-scale reporting application that’s so easy to use, a Caveman could use it!
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