What is reporting and why is it necessary?
Ensuring effective access to HCM data is a critical consideration for any organization. Having a catalog of accurate, well-designed reports can help with everything from efficient payroll and benefits processing to making better organizational decisions based on insightful HCM analytics.
Below, we’ll discuss how to get the most out of Oracle HCM cloud using reports and analytics tools and provide you with considerations you should make if you want to leverage them.
What are some of the reporting tools/capabilities within Cloud HCM?
Organizations that are using or plan to use Oracle HCM Cloud will have access to a delivered reporting catalog. Oracle provides over 600 delivered data driven reports and analytics.
The count, type, and thoroughness of reports does vary by module. Payroll possibly has the most robust catalog of reports including a Payroll Activity Report which shows granular details for all payroll processes and can be used to see all payroll transactions for employee data during a time frame. A Gross to Net report and a delivered Costing report can assist with additional reconciliation. Oracle provides a delivered payslip that is often modified by organizations to show their logo or any required formatting.
Many modules will have visually appealing dashboards that can be customized in a subfolder within their module folder named “Transactional Analysis Samples.” In addition to the module area reports, there is also a work area for Audit Reporting and Diagnostic Reporting.
Oracle continues to add to their delivered reporting catalog. Like the payslip, other delivered reports can be customized to meet organizational needs. However, the steps and technical expertise required to customize a delivered report vary based on the tool used to build the specific delivered report.
If the delivered reports do not meet an organization’s needs, Oracle also offers three primary tools for organizations to create their own custom reports.
Oracle Transactional Business Intelligence or OTBI for short provides a flexible and easy to use analysis tool that helps to gain real time insight into transactional data. OTBI’s core functionality allows users to simply drag and drop selected data from subject areas instead of writing sql and use different graphical views, such as infolets. Subject areas are a presentation layer built on the database tables. They are made up of logical data structures combined together and each of them are associated with specific application modules (Benefits, Workforce Management, Payroll, etc.)
BI Publisher can be used as an alternative reporting solution to OTBI. Enterprise reporting solution for authoring, managing, and delivering reports from multiple data sources in multiple formats through multiple channels. SQL queries can be used to access the application database tables directly. There are two reporting objects – a data model and a report. The separation between the data logic and the layout and translation can be very helpful if reports need to be highly formatted. Templates take the data items provided by a data model and arrange it in the form of tables, pivot tables, graphs, and free-form text, on report layout.
HCM Extracts are used to extract large amounts of complex data into an output file (typically XML). XML files generated when the HCM Extract runs can be passed to a BI Publisher report and transposed into the necessary file format. Multiple reports can be created from a single extract run. The HCM Extract process begins with Extract Definition Creation where User Entities are chosen for each block, attributes are selected, and blocks are joined. In each HCM Extract, multiple Delivery Options beyond default XML output can be defined. Integration with BI Publisher allows an HCM Extract to be associated with highly formatted reports.
Users can run OTBI and BI Publisher reports in the reporting catalog on an ad hoc basis. They can also be scheduled to locations or a user email. OTBI and BI Publisher reports have slightly different processes for scheduling but have similar functionality. HCM extracts are typically run through a scheduled job in the scheduled job work area or as a payroll flow. In addition to the standard scheduler, BI Publisher reports also have something called bursting and triggering capability. This allows additional logic to be added to the reports to determine how they should be sent.
Both OTBI and BI Publisher reports can be displayed on the UI and can add helpful insight to users as they access their relevant pages.
Although analytics and reports may be viewed elsewhere and HCM extracts have a separate work area, the reporting catalog is the primary location to access, create, and view an organization’s reports. Understanding the catalog functionality and the folder structure can ensure that reports can be effectively utilized.
All of the delivered reports from Oracle will live in the Shared Folder/Human Capital Management Folder. Each module area has its own folder and subfolders within it. All Custom reports should be saved within Shared Folders/Custom/Human Capital Management. Custom reports are safe from upgrades and will not be affected by any patching. The delivered reports themselves may not be modified, however, they can be customized using the xlmpserver. Customizing a delivered report with the customize button will place a copy of the object into the Custom folder and it will be used in place of the delivered access.
Within the Custom folder, subfolders can be created. We recommend some careful consideration of the design of the subfolders to ensure users have easy access to what is needed, but do not have unnecessary access. For example, a Payroll team could have a main payroll folder and then sub-folders that house various reports needed at specific times – such as a weekly payroll processing folder and a year-end folder. The main payroll folder could have folder level security so only members of the payroll team have access to the contents.
Besides the delivered reports that Oracle offers, they also have a report sharing center on the Cloud Customer Connect site with hundreds of reports available to users. Depending on the type of report being shared, the steps to place into the environment varies – but there should be directions explaining how to get the specific report into a user’s environment. Typically, the shared folders are archived from the shares environment and can be unarchived by the user. Administrator security access is typically needed to unarchive. The Cloud Customer Connect site also has a forum where report questions can be asked, enhancements can be suggested, and discussion can occur.
Despite all the delivered reports, tools to create custom reports, and the report sharing center, there is often an organizational need to bring in data from multiple sources and manipulate the data in programmatically complex ways. In these instances, having a Data Store and exporting data from Cloud HCM to the store is often the solution. Determining if a data store is necessary, what data needs to be exported, and the route of exportation is something that should be considered during an implementation.
Elire has a wealth of experience in helping clients move from their legacy system to HCM Cloud and can offer reporting strategy guidance, reporting best practices, and report development. Elire has built a large catalog of HCM reports which includes conversion validation reports to help ensure the accuracy of legacy data moved into HCM and module area reports that can be used as a starting point at most organizations. No matter your organization or unique situation, Elire’s team of Trusted Advisors is here to help. Reach out to [email protected] to set up a time to discuss your reporting strategy. In the meantime, subscribe to our monthly Cloud Newsletter here.