The Challenges of Hyperion Support Part 2: Smart View and User Support (Continued)
The Bean Consulting Group
Open a Task List, Form or perform ad-hoc analysis on a cube by selecting the option at the bottom of the panel.
Hyperion Financial Management (HFM) is widely used to consolidate enterprise wide financial data. It facilitates data collection, journal entry, intercompany eliminations, calculations, and currency translation. “Rules” are used to drive the processing of data and the logic used is fully customizable.
Used with HFM, Smart View is a powerful user interface that not only allows for ad hoc analysis and reporting, but also provides users access to a wide range of HFM features and functionality. The following items exist in the Oracle EPMS Fusion Workspace, but can also be accessed through MS Office applications like Excel by utilizing Smart View.
Once installed, Hyperion Smart View will appear along with the standard MS Excel ribbons, for example. After a connection to an HFM application has been established, one of two data source ribbons, ‘HFM’ or ‘HFM Ad Hoc’, will appear depending on what the user selects (see Figure1 and Figure2). The ‘HFM’ ribbon will appear when HFM application objects like Data Grids, Data Forms, and predefined user Task Lists are selected. In addition to features like Data Forms, the following HFM specific functionality can be accessed through Smart View:
Submitting data – allows for user driven input level data entry
Calculating data – runs the application’s calculation rules, which can be customized
Consolidating data - aggregates the data up throughout the enterprise. This process also performs currency translation and intercompany eliminations, and equity adjustments or minority ownership calculations if required.
Translating data – runs the application’s default currency translation rules, which can be customized
Add, edit and delete comments on data cells
HFM Ad Hoc Ribbon
Drill through to FDM and FDM data sources is also supported by Smart View, as are Smart Slices (reusable viewpoints of the data).
It is important to remember that many of Hyperion Financial Management’s most powerful features for users can be accessed only through the Workspace; these include managing journals and managing intercompany transaction. Also, a majority of HFM’s purely administrative functions exist only through the Workspace, including but not limited to:
Managing Periods – i.e. opening a new month for use
Creating Journal Templates
Load Tasks - examples include loading data, journal and intercompany transaction.
Extract Tasks - examples include extracting data, journal and intercompany transaction.
Rules Management – to update an application’s rules file.
Member List Management - member lists allow for administrators to build custom metadata member lists; i.e. a custom listing of entities, subsidiaries or departments.
In addition there is a Smart View add-in for Oracle Business Intelligence (OBI) applications which similarly allow access to analytic data. We will not cover this add-in here, but the functionality is very similar to that described above for the Hyperion add-ins.
Word, PowerPoint and Outlook Smart View Connections
In addition to the Excel add-in, Smart View also provides direct connectivity to Hyperion data from the other Microsoft Office products such as Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.
The Smart View add-in for Word allows data grids to be inserted into Word documents which can then be refreshed directly from the Hyperion source systems. This minimizes potential transcription issues that may arise when entering data manually into the Word document.
Follow the steps below to insert Smart View data from Excel into Word:
While connected to Smart View within Excel, highlight the data you wish to copy.
Select Copy within the Smart View ribbon.
Open the Word document that you wish to paste the data.
Create a connection in Word by selecting the Panel icon within the Smart View tab and following the same steps in creating a connection as done in Excel.
From the Smart View tab in Word, select Paste.
Follow the same steps into insert data into PowerPoint.
The Smart View add-in for PowerPoint allows data grids to be inserted into PowerPoint presentations which can then be refreshed directly from the Hyperion source systems. This minimizes potential transcription issues that may arise when entering data manually into the PowerPoint presentation, and the steps for getting connected are the same as described above for Word.
The Smart View add-in for Outlook allows Hyperion related tasks to be managed through Outlook with reminders, etc. This capability is important to the support of Workflow and Process Management which we will address in our next article.
Smart View Tips and Trick
Before we conclude, we thought we would also provide some tips and tricks that are useful in supporting users and Smart View in a Hyperion environment. These Tips and Tricks fall into two categories – server side and client side.
Many of the Smart View issues that users encounter involve connectivity and data retrieval from the Essbase server. Some of these connectivity issues can be managed using settings in the Essbase server configuration file.
Server Configuration File
Essbase utilizes a configuration file to set certain parameters that have an impact on Smart View performance and that the support team should also be aware of. These include Net Delay, Net Retry Count, Net Connect Retry, Net Socket Time Out, and Net Retry Interval which we will describe below.
Net Delay – Specifies the network request delay time. Can be set to an integer value of 100 or above, expressed in milliseconds. The default value is 200 milliseconds.
Net Retry Count - Specifies the number of attempts Analytic Services is allowed to make a network connection before failing and reporting an error. Can be set to an integer value of 300 or above, and the default value is 600 retries.
Net Connect Retry – Specifies the number of attempts the Provider Service will try to connect to an Essbase Server
Net Socket Time Out – Specifies the amount of time the Provider Service will wait, in milli-seconds, before timing out the IO operations on socket. A zero value will result in infinite timeout.
Smart View is one of the most powerful tools that takes full advantage of Essbase, Planning, HFM and BI. It offers hundreds of options to pull, analyze, and report data. Several common questions arise when trouble shooting data issues. The following is a list of tips and tricks to help make the most of Smart View.
By far, the most common mistake we have encountered is querying the wrong intersection. Essbase is a multidimensional database that houses data at an intersection of dimensions. With this in mind, one member changes the entire intersection. The first step in trouble shooting an issue with “missing” data is to verify that the user is looking at the correct intersection.
Color Coding Parent Members
A common question that arises is figuring out what members can be drilled into. You can color code members to identify which members are parents and which are leaf level. Follow the steps below to color code parent members:
In the Smart View tab, select “Options”.
Under Cell Styles, expand “Analytic Services”, then “Member Cells”, and then check “Parent”.
Right click on “Parent” to specify how to highlight the parent members.
Understanding and Dealing with #NoData or #MissingData
Whenever an intersection has no data, Smart View will display #NoData or #MissingData. Often times having #NoData or #MissingData can interfere with calculations in the sheet. Many users would like to replace the default display. Follow the steps below to change the values:
In the Smart View tab, select “Options.”
Under Replacement, highlight the #Missing and insert desired display.
Retaining Excel Formatting
A common frustration among users is the loss of spreadsheet formatting when refreshing a query. Follow the steps below to retain excel formatting:
In Smart View tab, select “Options”.
Under Formatting, select “Use Excel Formatting”.
Organizing Your Data
Figuring out the best way to organize data in Smart View can be difficult. Simply thinking about whether a member should be on the rows or columns takes time and can be troublesome. When creating your spreadsheet, try to keep in mind what would be the best view; data is easiest to analyze by scrolling down. Here are a few ideas to help organize your Smart View spreadsheet:
Any time you want one member to be consistent throughout the entire workbook, it should be in the POV; it keeps the spreadsheet clean and uncluttered, and if you need to change that member, you only need to do it once.
In the case that you want to display multiple members, such as the accounts dimension, you have to figure out if you want them on the rows or columns. When comparing different accounts, it is often easier to put them in the rows, as it is easier to compare numbers by scrolling down instead of across. Often times, the best way to set up a grid is to have the account dimension down the rows and the period dimension across the columns. This way, you can analyze data by scrolling down.
In conclusion, Smart View user support requires both a functional and a technical understanding of the Hyperion environment. Functional support is required in order to assist with data support activities such as tracing analytic data back to its transactional “roots” through the Point of View; and, technical support to assist with the infrastructure and performance of connections used by Smart View to access Hyperion applications.
In the next article in our series we will discuss the use of Process Management and Workflow in Hyperion applications and the importance of understanding these topics in supporting Hyperion applications.