Oracle unveils planning and budgeting application

This week Oracle Corp. added a planning and budgeting solution, Oracle Enterprise Planning and Budgeting (EPB), to it enterprise application offerings. The application will over time replace the current Financial Analyzer and Sales Analyzer.

Using what it calls Express technology, Oracle has taken all of the OLAP analytic portions of the OLAP server and embedded it into the 9i and 10g database. Companies that buy the Oracle OLAP licence for the database will be able to access this OLAP functionality with EPB.

Paul Hamerman, vice-president of enterprise applications at Forrester Research Inc., called the application “a good sophisticated planning tool that is highly configurable.” According to Hamerman, Oracle was not getting a piece of the budgeting and planning market, and this move positions the company to get a share of the market, which has been led by best-of-breed vendors such as Cognos Inc. and Hyperion Solutions Corp.

From the application side, the solution is built around the concept of business flows, said John Schoenherr, vice-president of corporate performance management at Oracle. The application creates business processes that define the people involved, the sort of forecast they generate over time, and the managers who review it.

“All of this is defined as one business process and is put into production. EPB starts running that process,” said Schoenherr.

By participating in the business flow, EPB is unique in its ability to do exception-based reporting. “Most applications use third parties for that,” said Hamerman.

EPB is a horizontal application that can be used across many industries, but Oracle will be following the current trend in adding templates for specific industries, according to Schoenherr.

Licenses are on a named user basis. A full licence is US$2,995 (all figures U.S.); a read-only licence is $595. For $30,000 it also includes the database and the OLAP option. EPB is shipping next week.