What’s the big deal about Hyperion Financial Management 188.8.131.52? Is it just a minor release, as the small change in version numbers would suggest? Not at all. This is a major upgrade of HFM and arguably the biggest change since its debut release. The most significant changes are the dimensionality and a complete overhaul of the user interface.
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From an application design perspective, the biggest change to HFM is the addition of configurable dimensions. Ever since the first release, four custom dimensions have been available. I can recall numerous design sessions with clients where the discussions involved whether to get everything into the four available dimensions or save one for a future requirement. Clients worked within the constraints by stacking different items in the same dimension, with each item applicable to a specific set of accounts. For example, one dimension may have movement detail for the balance sheet, product detail for the sales accounts and cash flow detail for the cash flow accounts. This has worked all these years because there was no choice.
Oracle’s financial management software
In HFN 184.108.40.206, different types of members can be placed in their own dimensions, with meaningful dimension names such as Product or Movement. This capability will make it clearer to users where the data resides in the application. Now applications can be designed to more closely mirror Oracle Essbase or Oracle Hyperion Planning applications, simplifying the movement of data between the applications. It will also be possible to add dimensions to an existing application. Depending upon what is being added, after upgrading to release 220.127.116.11, it may be possible to add dimensions without rebuilding the application.
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How many configurable dimensions can an application have? That will depend on the size of the application and the database selected. It will also depend on the size of the dimension and of the relational database. It will be fairly easy to have 18 to 20 configurable dimensions, far more than is probably required for a consolidation application. In practice, it will be far more common to have 6 to 10 dimensions. Keep in mind that any dimension that is added to an application has to be populated with data, either from a data feed or from manual input.
Products that support HFM have also been updated to handle the configurable dimensions, including Hyperion Financial Reporting, SmartView and Financial Data Quality Management (FDQM).
Getting to know HFM’s new user interface
From the user perspective, this biggest change to HFM is in the user interface, which been completely redesigned for a richer, Web 2.0 experience. Current users won’t find the changes to be so drastic that they won’t recognize the product. Instead they will find numerous enhancements that make using the financial management software easier, specifically the following:
- Multiple HFM applications can be opened simultaneously in Workspace, and within each application, multiple modules can be opened.
- Data grids now have a legend at the bottom that explains the cell colors. The right side has an options pane that allows easy access for changing the grid settings.
- Enhancements to the point of view (POV) bar make it easier to manage and select dimension members. User cans wrap the POV bar, hide dimensions and change the dimension order. Favorite members can be set within a dimension so users don’t always have to search through a large hierarchy.
- The journals module now displays both the journal header and the associated journal details on the initial screen.
- There is now a single screen for application loads and a single screen for application extracts.
The reaction to the new interface has been positive. Clients who have seen the new screens are impressed and looking forward to upgrading for those enhancements alone.
The new release of HFM also brings performance improvements. While these changes are “under the hood,” they’ll have big impact on the user experience. Changes to the data retrieval engine will translate into better performance for Hyperion Financial Reporting, Smart View, data forms and grids. Improvements in consolidation result in consolidation times that grow linearly when the number of configurable dimensions grows exponentially.
These are big changes for a release that is only changing the final digit. The greater flexibility in configurable dimensions answers a need that has been there from the beginning -- a need that has only grown as reporting requirements have become more complex. The interface updates will make a product that is already popular with users even easier to use.
I can only imagine what will be in Hyperion Financial Management 12.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Arnoldy is a principal solutions architect at TopDown Consulting, a Hyperion implementation provider and Oracle partner based in San Francisco. He is a certified public accountant with more than 20 years of experience designing, developing and implementing financial management applications.