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Regular readers of my blog posts will know that I like to spend a fair amount of space talking about the ‘how’s’ of owning and managing an EPM system. In all honesty, anyone can purchase a software solution, and many companies do, but the real test comes during implementation and support. Over my many years of consulting I’ve noticed that clients who enter the implementation stage with a support and maintenance plan already in mind tend to be more successful. The same success also follows clients who start a project with some sort of future product lifecycle in mind.  But what happens when your company hasn’t had the luxury of time to be proactive, or if you have inherited a system that is out of date through an acquisition, or being used for cross-purposes? Now is the time to have an open conversation around these intricacies. The following article, and a Q&A panel I am hosting next week hope to answer some of those questions. So here are some opening thoughts to get the dialogue rolling:

Roadmap:

Have you even been in a car with someone who would not admit they’re lost? It’s less common in the world of GPS, but it still happens. One of the most frustrating things is the driver refusing to stop and ask directions. EPM software implementations are no different. Oracle (and Hyperion before them) have an array of products and acronyms in the EPM space.  There are so many that it can easily be confusing, even if you were once on the cutting edge.  Even a one or two year break in the upgrade cycle can leave clients unsure of where to go next.  Luckily, there is an easy solution.  Utilize a trained EPM architect to review and understand your current architecture, define versioning and product options, explain new and emerging products, and objectively layout  a roadmap for you to get from your version (whatever that may be) to the latest and greatest EPM has to offer.

Perform:

Do you already have the latest and greatest EPM version, but you are struggling with performance issues? This is a very common occurrence. With the ever growing size and complexity of data sets, it is not uncommon for yesterday’s well-performing application to become today’s server crushing terror. Sometimes the fix can be as simple as modifying some server and application side tuning values. And other times it may require a more detailed look at the application design, business process and your infrastructure settings. Regardless of the level of involvement required, a solution is just around the corner, and a qualified resource can get your application performance issues resolved in short order.

Hardware/Software:

Is your infrastructure stack out of date? Are you having problems upgrading it because of EPM, or because of too many versions of client software in the field (I’m looking at you Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office)?

Upgrading hardware and software can be a daunting task in the EPM world. Replacing hardware in this time of ever-changing architecture, requires a long term capital commitment. That commitment comes with a variety of options and needs to be well planned. A independent study to determine the best path forward can help you with the overall ROI.  Let an outside architect help you decide amongst the options, whether virtual, on-premise, hosted or engineered systems.

Skywriting:

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Oracle EPM Cloud. As many of you have heard, Oracle is moving all of the products to a Cloud based model. This is great news for clients, and will allow them more flexibility in building the suite that fits their business needs, without the messy overhead of maintaining servers and EPM patch levels. That said, the Cloud is still a new model and many clients have legitimate concerns on how to approach the entire concept, when and how to migrate to the cloud, what security precautions are needed and if their product is even ‘Cloud ready’. This is another area where an EPM architect can assist by mapping out your path, timeline and migration to the cloud.

The above areas are just a few key concerns I hear expressed from clients. It is by no means an exhaustive list, and I’m sure many clients have other concerns. If you find yourself asking similar questions, or if you have areas that I just failed to mention, join us for more detailed answers. We will be hosting a round-table discussion to cover any IT/Infrastructure topic you need answers to, and we look forward to a brisk and lively discussion about EPM IT and the exciting changes happening in the industry.