PBCS & EPBCS What is Old is New Again!

So it’s always exciting being very cloud focused – every month you have new toys, bug fixes, changes to read. However even for 2019 (which has had some big releases already) June 19 is a pretty big one!

I’m writing this as part of a blog hop (organised by the incredibly enthusiastic and talented Opal) around all of the changes coming in the EPM landscape. Forewarning now – this is literally hot of the press (or more accurately, while the presses are still running!) so we’re all likely to have to come back and update as more information comes through.

So what exactly has changed?

Well on Friday 31st June, the Jun-19 SAAS release notes were pushed out, and the Oracle EPM Product lineup got some new branding.

*First edit!* It got changed again on Monday!

Fundamentally, the EPM stack as a whole has been split into two separate product streams: an Enterprise level and Standard level.

What we’re hearing is that these product streams will be consolidated – so you’re purchasing a EPM license potentially across multiple products rather than purchasing separate licensing for each product (ie: FCCS, ARCS, PBCS)

This is borne out even more by an interesting bit of new functionality in EPMAutomate – the ability to change the service type of the pod between the primary service streams!

And what does this mean for Planning specifically?

Within the EPM stack PBCS\EPBCS was definitely the odd one out – containing two separately licensed products that were masquerading as one. But as a client you either purchased one or the other and generally went with that – very few people were shifting between PBCS to EPBCS or vice versa mostly because the cost and time investment to shift was pretty huge.

The big push from the Oracle side has been to move people towards the out of the box options where at all possible – and this is borne out by the new licensing options.

Standard will include the Out of the Box applications (Workforce, Financials, Projects) and the ability to create 1 custom BSO\Hybrid and 1 custom ASO cube. This will definitely be ‘EPBCS-lite’ – ability to configure will be minimal specifically as it comes to updating \ editing \ creating Groovy scripts. The theory is that it will (only?) suit small clients that can make do without customisation.

For a pure PBCS build (as an awful lot of mine are) it is very disappointing with standard losing out on any customisation – as it is a substantial price bump for no additional functionality.

Enterprise on the other hand is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish and then some. You get:

  • All of the out of the box applications available with the ability to add 3 more custom BSO and 3 more custom ASO
  • A complete custom setup with 6 BSO cubes and 6 ASO
  • Groovy \ Strategic planning \ Enterprise Data Management
  • Completely Free Form Planning (basically Essbase SAAS wrapped in a Planning shell) . See the link to Jazmin Ribeiro’s post at the bottom.

And what about Clients?

This is a more interesting arc – even in Standard you’re no longer a Planning and Budgeting Cloud Services user anymore, instead you have access across more products in the EPM Stack inculding FCCS and ARCS (likely in their respective cut down offerings). Interesting if only because I know personally we’ve built a lot of Planning applications across the years that would have been better suited for FCCS\HFM or Profitability\PCMCS (the old, if Planning is your hammer, every business process problem looks like a nail).

As such, if we have the ability to easily and seamlessly extend the footprint into other products without having to go back to the client and start the licensing dance again – fantastic.

This also better places EPBCS \ Enterprise in the market. It was, more often than not, a tough sell. If a client’s needs didn’t cleanly fit into the Oracle EPBCS module offerings then it was a significantly greater expense for licensing for limited visible benefit.

“I can do anything with Groovy… except get a client to pay for it!”

The 64 Million Dollar Question

Licensing is going to be the kicker here. Obviously Oracle list price is a fairly arbitrary metric with the way sales and inventive discounts are done by the Oracle Sales group, but assuming a price bump for the additional products and flexibility – it may price small businesses out of a small PBCS-only build.

Obviously there are plenty of other EPM products available and coming into the market, so it may well be that Oracle has decided to stop chasing the small end of the market on price and focus only on mid-size and up companies where their branding and image is stronger.

Edit! We now have pricing:

So yeah – my note about pricing out a small Planning-only build is pretty apt here. There is some value in the Standard license, but if you’re not using ARCS \ FCCS – you’ve got significantly more expense. We’ll have to see how flexible the Pricing can be, but it definitely feels like Oracle have repriced themselves deliberately up – with the lowest price of an EPM deal effectively doubling.

Comparatively (and perhaps compared to the Standard pricing) the Enterprise Licensing is a great deal. There are now real options for bigger clients with multiple on-prem Applications to migrate to the cloud.

Bigger than Ben Hur

Probably the biggest take-away for this change for me is that some of these builds could be enormous. An Enterprise build including FCCS \ ARCS \ Tax \ PCMCS \ Data Management \ Enterprise Planning is a cross-platform \ cross-function implementation covering almost all of the Financial functional areas with potentially 10-40 primary critical stakeholders and teams in the hundreds. Cross-skilled technical business consulting skills are going to be vital – it may not be good enough to simply be a Planning FP&A specialist anymore!

That said the way it is setup, it may be feasible to become more agile and incrementally deliver products quickly, running POC’s where needed and leveraging some of the back end and data integration setups.

So that’s it from me with the June changes – continue your educational journey by “hopping” over to the following posts to find out more about specific product updates, as well as gain different partner perspectives on the licensing, naming, and consolidation changes:

1. Opal Alapat gives an overview of the June 2019 Oracle EPM Cloud blog hop, as well as details on the product name changes, product consolidations, and new licensing: here

2. Jun Zhang does a comprehensive summary of the June updates by product: over here

3. Eric Erikson provides his perspective on FCCS: right this way

4. Jay Chapman covers the notable EPRCS (now called Narrative Reporting) June updates: right thatta way

5. Kate Helmer summarizes important EDMCS updates: in this direction

6. And finally Tony Scalese covers changes to the REST API and EPM Automate: right here!

7. And another late addition – not in the original blog hop, but too good not to share. Jazmin Ribeiro put up some great details around the new standalone planning build here