Yes you can afford Oracle EPM – how to get started for less.

Yes you can afford Oracle EPM – how to get started for less.

Let’s face it, implementing Oracle software can be an expensive undertaking.  After doing some quick analysis, many companies who desperately want to get out of the spreadsheet rat-race feel over burdened with the perceived high cost implementing an enterprise solution for performance management.  No company is adverse to spending money if it will yield a worthwhile return. But if you are new to EPM, getting a handle on the overall ROI with EPM and BI can be challenging.

  • What value will the EPM solution bring?
  • What cost savings will be realized as a result?
  • What quality will be improved?
  • What risks will be reduced?
  • How much time will be saved?

Of course, the flip side to this is cost.

Let’s break down the major cost factors for an EPM implementation, outline some considerations for each, and identify opportunities to reduce cost.

1.)  Software Licensing and support

Most Oracle EPM modules are priced by the number of application users and can be thousands of dollars per user.  There is also the cost of support which entitles you to software updates.

Oracle’s pricing list is here

 http://www.oracle.com/us/corporate/pricing/price-lists/business-intelligence-price-list-071347.pdf

 Considerations:

Oracle EPM software pricing can be done with a suite of products that come with many popular modules and the ability to add on options. You can also purchase each individual product standalone.

The way to save:

  • Every product has a minimum number of users you must purchase.  Organizations just getting started in EPM could consider the minimum user license for now, you can also add more users later.
  • Only buy what you need.  Many times the all-in-one suites have many modules you do not need.  Perhaps looking at a standalone module would be best to start with and add on as needed.
  • Many organizations split the cost between multiple organizational divisions to help reduce the burden to the individual cost centers.
  • Implement a phased approach.  Implement one module at a time, for a core group of users, then expand.

Where we can help:

We can perform a full assessment of your overall EPM, BI, and reporting vision to assist you in software selection, capabilities, and add-ons you need, identify phases, and ascertain overall cost and ROI.   We can also help in your negotiations with Oracle, and even help you write an RFP if you want to send it out for bid.

2.)  Hardware

While software licensing costs can be somewhat straight forward, often times hardware costs can be a black box.  Understanding all the necessary servers, network equipment, disk storage, required third party software, etc. can be daunting to the point of giving up.   However, this information is simply mandatory to adequately cost out your project.

  • Operating System cost
  • Server cost – based on required CPU, Memory
  • Disk Storage
  • Required third party software such as Oracle database or SQL Server.

Considerations:

There are many factors that will influence what is required for hardware.  The number of environments, users, uptime/availability requirements, and understanding what internal technology that can be leveraged such as pre-existing Storage Area Networks. The only way to know for sure is to have a professional hardware design performed.

 The way to save:

  • Consider cheaper operating systems, such as Linux.
  • Consider virtual machines to lower the physical hardware footprint.
  • Only buy what you need.  Consider starting with only a DEV and PROD for now.

How we can help:

We perform a standard one-day hardware design session with your organization to completely understand the use case, modules, scalability, security needs, service level needs, etc. It is a very quick and inexpensive offering that can prevent a lot of budget surprises.

Still too expensive?   Have us deal with it for you.

We also offers Oracle EPM and BI server hosting.  Using our cloud hosted services, organizations save big time by eliminating the large cost of servers (That have to be replaced every few years).  Also eliminated is the infrastructure space, electricity, etc. Our hosting service provides:

  • Secure high-speed access to servers over secure VPN – the servers look like they are directly on your network, so data integration is a snap.
  • Full high-availability fault tolerance.
  • Full data center disaster recovery with geo-redundant storage.

3.)  Software development and training

The possibilities with the Oracle EPM stack are seemingly infinite. However, it has to be developed.  The installation creates a blank canvas and it needs to be developed and configured which takes time, money, and know-how.

Considerations:

Even the smallest greenfield implementation will undergo these major steps:

     1.)  Design/Assessment
     Dimensionality, reporting, data integration, etc.
 
     2.)  Implementation
     Configure the software to the design
 
     3.)  Testing
     Conference Room Pilots, User Acceptance Testing, etc.
 
     4.)  Training, documentation
     User and Admin training
 
     5.)  Roll-out
     Go-live, parallel close cycles,
 
     6.)  Expand
     Adding additional functionally, users, divisional units, detail, modules, etc.

The way to save:

  • Implement a phased approach.  Start with one module, one application, and simple reports. Go-live and get user acceptance, then expand capabilities.
  • Use an implementation partner to train your people so that they can continue with the application development, reports, etc.

How we can help:

We have dedicated rapid deployment programs specifically for midsize companies seeking to get up and running fast.  We have fast tracks for rapidly deploying Business Intelligence (OBIEE), Planning, Financial Management, and Data Relationship Management.  This program is perfect for those that want start their journey away from Excel and embrace an enterprise solution as a quick win first step. The scope is clear, implementation is quick, with detailed training and documentation throughout.

4.)  Ongoing administration, support.

Just like all enterprise system, this is not a set-it-and-forget-it solution.  Oracle EPM requires ongoing administration and support both functionally and from IT.

  • Data and metadata loading
  • Calculations, aggregations, consolidations
  • User access issues
  • Server maintenance and troubleshooting
  • Backups
  • Patching
  • Monitoring

Considerations:

This typically involves many people.  While it may not be a full time job for any one individual, it does involve many skill sets.  Functional admin users are usually the first line of support for issues.  Technical issues could easily involve server admins, database admins, network admins, etc.  Most importantly, someone needs to create, maintain, monitor, and test backups and recovery procedures.

The way to save:

Ensure you are working with a partner that takes administration and IT training seriously. Properly spending time training admins up front will significantly save time and money in the long run.

How we can help:

We offer all sorts of training including administration training and dedicated IT training covering proper maintenance, troubleshooting, logging, backup/recovery, architecture, scalability, tuning, etc.

If you are understaffed – have no fear.  No need to go out and hire full time people, we offer worry-free  Managed Services and Helpdesk services for companies of all sizes.  For midsize companies getting started in EPM, we offer a low-cost basic package for Helpdesk services; including a fully functional web based ticketing system and 15 minute service-level ticket acknowledgment from our knowledgeable on-shore Helpdesk team.  This service can save you 60-70% in overall costs associated with day to day maintenance and support costs.  For companies wanting more IT services, our fast reacting helpdesk can do ongoing proactive health monitoring, job monitoring, backups, tuning, patching, etc.

Summary

It’s obvious that there many possibilities to implement EPM.  Whether you are looking start a new EPM project, reduce costs of your current implementation, upgrade, improve support, etc…. it all starts with discovery workshop.  We will help you justify your ROI, calculate costs, and go over all your options to ensure you are not overbuying, over allocating, or inaccurately budgeting.

It is possible to start your journey to EPM on almost any budget.  Contact me for more information on how to get started.

~ by Eric Helmer on January 6, 2014.

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