Monday, 15 February 2010

Fusion Applications Set Up Manager

I have spoken at length about how much I like Fusion Applications and how they will change the way we do things, but today I want to talk about how they will be set up. I have talked about how they can co-exist with current applications with integration, but what I want to discuss here is the actual configuration. As ever remember this is my blog and my understanding and it may change before release.

I work for Fujitsu who are a very large Systems Integrator and in the past I have been responsible for the many E Business Suite implementations and upgrades. Working my way through the setup steps, creating the BR100s (AIM Methodology) to ensure the next build in the development cycle will be the same. These setup processes are a large part of consultant’s roles and the boot camp training I had when I first started was about 60-70% setup and only the remainder about processes. So my interest in setup really comes from the heart.

However ‘a quick word about my sponsor’, Oracle have allowed me phenomenal access to Fusion Apps at all stages since its inception. I spent a week summer looking at Fusion Financials in one of the Customer validation waves and all the way through I was thinking with my Systems Integrator hat on, what set up is needed for this? At the Fusion Inner Circle at Oracle Open World I asked the question and was given details of who to contact. I was then invited to another customer wave a few weeks later in Oracle’s UK HQ to go through the Set Up Manager in a one to one session, and then a quick follow up in Redwood when I was there in January. That is unrivalled access, and a privilege I am very thankful for.

I eluded to it above and the first important point is that this is a module, not simply a manual. The Fusion Set Up Manager is an ADF front end to every process required. Some of these are web services and some simply a shortcut to a process within the application. Conceptually you are creating an end to end orchestrated process for setup. You can allocated discrete processes to other resources by assigning them tasks, define dependencies or parallel processes along with due dates, the same concepts we are used to with MS Projects, with workflowed notifications etc. You can add place holders for manual tasks such as keying or loading in values. It will validate the dependencies, that they have happened not what you have actually entered, e.g. that your Chart of Accounts had been defined and met the rules, it can’t tell that you meant to call a segment something else. All of this creates a project end to end

It will include the upgrade processes for Applications Unlimited. You will implement Fusion and then using the provided ETL processes migrate your data across from whatever Applications Unlimited product you had (there is a lot of information as to which versions are supported here). If you have a different source system or need for some reason to write your own ETL you can add this as a process to the Setup Manager.

Your project once complete can be preserved as a single XML file, and this in turn can be exported to another instance ensuring the next build is the same. In the same way if there is an extension you need it can be added. Oracle or Partners will create offerings which you can download into your project. The concept is very similar to the Apps Store we use with the iPhone, you will be able to browse offerings and possibly even purchase online and simply download not only the project element but the BPA elements, any required components for the application itself. This will happen from the front page, getting started, you will be able to explore, understand and learn about the Setup Manager and its components. As well as the XML export you can also download a CSV file of all the steps in your project, you can attach documents where required.

One question I have had for a while was around Oracle Business Accelerators. These have revolutionized E Business Suite, and are a bit like a quick starts, basically for different industries there are a long set of questions which generates data for you to use in the setup. You get consistent application setups and an easier to control implementation project and budget. Come back in a few weeks and I will link to an Oracle Scene article a friend has written about how OBA is changing his business (and I bet you won’t be able to guess who). I had been worrying that if OBA was about having an industry template for implementations, was the promise of supporting any process in Fusion Apps the complete opposite? If OBA has changed the way we implement Apps Unlimited, then will we want to leave that concept behind? So when I thought I understood this concept of importing setup into my Fusion Project I thought, this is where OBA fits in, however it was pointed out to me that OBA is about data and Setup Manager is about the tasks. To get what I want they need to be combined, but yes it is being looked at.

So who has been involved in the development of Setup Manager? Not only have some partners and Oracle Consulting been included, but also Support and those responsible for online help from day one. Hopefully this means warning messages and contextually help will be of a very high standard. And as with every module in Fusion Applications the User Experience Team have been an integral part, to ensure this really is the Way We Work.

I was interested in the methodology. Oracle has introduced their Unified Method which gives a framework for all their products. I am from EBS where the methodology is AIM, great for apps but doesn’t move to BI where the process needs to be more agile. I want this module to be OUM ready from day one and I am proud to say that my Product Development Committee that brings all user groups together had a long discussion with the OUM executive and we know there is now a desire to make this happen. So while you are listening Oracle, can we have a single, working enhancement process for Fusion Applications from day one please.

If you are an implementation consultant out there, I suggest you learn BPA quickly because understanding and mapping an organizations' processes, real consultancy is what your role will be with Fusion Applications, Setup is going to be managed online and fun, not the laborious process it is today.

Well done Oracle.

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