Oracle OpenWorld 2011

Oracle OpenWorld 2011: Oracle Hyperion DRM Customer Panel

Dan Power, attending Oracle OpenWorld 2011, live blogged this session led by Rahul Kamath, Director of Product Strategy at Oracle.

Rahul Kamath led off with the quote “Nothing is certain but death and taxes …” which is attributed to Ben Franklin, but went on to say that it’s also true that constant change is inevitable in our businesses. A lot of companies struggle with handling changes like new sales territories, new financial accounts or cost centers, new legal entities, etc. in their front office, back office, their own organization, and their performance management efforts.

As companies face these changes, they often have to work across process silos and varying perspectives, and be prepared to handle labor-intensive merger & acquisition efforts. In the case of M&A in particular, we need to be able to onboard new companies quickly and easily, as that in itself can create a significant competitive advantage.

And all companies need to increase their agility and to comply with the applicable regulations in their industry.

When changes occur, there’s a ripple effect – usually communicated via e-mail, spreadsheets or some other unstructured mechanism, that leads to reports being updated, databases being modified, and so on.

As a result of this, a lot of times the numbers don’t match across these various systems. The underlying structures don’t match – the manual integration we were relying on never happened.

Oracle’s Hyperion Data Relationship Management (DRM) solution allows customers to collapse separate structures into a single maintenance structure, and to streamline change management processes into one place, one process and one structure. This can reduce or eliminate the reconciliation headaches that we’re otherwise confronted with.

DRM as a product allows customers to consolidate data into the DRM repository, then reconcile and rationalize that information, as well as to govern it and then to share it back out to the rest of the enterprise.

DRM operates very well in a heterogeneous environment and embraces a lot of MDM best practices and principles. It supports use cases like Chart of Accounts management, and others like mastering Sales Territories, and other customer-led innovation areas.

DRM has been implemented at over 340 customers across a wide spectrum of industries.

At this point in the session, Rahul turned it over to the customer panelists. Alex Vlaisavljevic, Data Governance Manager at Navistar (formerly International Harvester) talked about their Finance Transformation initiative, which is how DRM was introduced to the company. Navistar’s goals were to introduce new tools, provide robust financial analytics, and create a new, simplified corporate Chart of Accounts, all implemented simultaneously. DRM became the backbone of Navistar’s Chart of Accounts governance process.

Navistar’s data governance framework has the typical three level structure: executive team, management team and working groups, with a mix of IT and business resources. The management team consists of an enterprise architect from IT and a data governance manager from the business. The working group level consists of a DRM architect, a Chart of Account process administrator, hierarchy stewards, element stewards, Chart of Account approvers, IT application subject matter experts, data governance analyst, etc.

Navistar created some custom Java forms to provide a front end for requests and approvals. That front end talks to DRM, which in turn is integrated with back end systems.

Business benefits include freeing up the financial analysts from managing Chart of Account values, allowing them to focus on analyzing business results (their real jobs).

Other benefits include a centralized Chart of Accounts governance process with integrity, consistency and quality.

Lessons learned include making sure you have an in depth understanding of how data elements are used by the business before you begin the DRM implementation. Aligning key MDM, Data Governance and DRM design principles is also critical.

Angie Couron, the Director of Data Governance at VMware, discussed how VMware, a $2.9 billion company, is using Data Relationship Management to master Sales Territories in their CRM application, which is Salesforce.com.

Their territory assignment rules are somewhat complex. Creating a centralized customer hierarchy master was critical.  VMware is using Trillium as part of their data standardization for customer data.

VMware did a quick deployment of DRM in support of their Sales Territory mastering efforts, but they made sure it fit into their overall strategy first. After the initial project, they had additional Enterprise Hierarchy Use cases mapped out to look at.

Geography, industry, and others that have no home, and others that are managed on individual laptops or shared drives were good candidates to be centralized into DRM and governed by VMware’s data governance team. Other candidates were hierarchies that exists today and need data governance and a robust platform. Other hierarchies where there is a publish/subscribe pattern are also good candidates.

Interestingly, Finance has not come to the table yet at VMware.

Enterprise Hierarchy Management (EHM) is what they call their project at VMware. Enterprise Territory Management (ETM) is a real time process that replaces over 200,000 lines of rules in the old territory assignment engine.

The standardization and enrichment is based on Dun & Bradstreet data and Trillium data quality tools.

Governance at VMware is business-driven, sitting under Field Operations and Marketing. Funding is provided by the Project Review Board (a joint group between business and IT). There is an MDM Steering Committee that provides oversight.

If you try to do too much too fast, you’ll struggle – instead, pick small areas where you can show value to the business and you’ll be able to stay successful and busy. Align yourself with something that has to get out the door in order to have a sense of urgency. Don’t try to do it yourself, choose an experienced development team.

It was interesting to hear the diversity of what customers are doing with Oracle Data Relationship Management, and to see how many of them feel strongly enough about the product that they’re willing to get up and speak publicly about their experiences with it.

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