Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Naughty 7.9

Apparently there is a little buggette

"Customers installing Oracle BI Applications Version 7.9 must first install Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 10g Release 3 version with Quick Fix 150. "

tut tut

7.9 Is here, Huh?

So you thought that OBI EE was the new Analytics. Think again. Siebel analytics has jsut gone into version 7.9, but so far I have only seen Applications 7.9, so it looks like platform is either 7.8 or OBI EE :

There new names though:

Siebel Analytics Application now becomes

Oracle® Business Intelligence Applications (OBIA)

Siebel Analytics Repository now becomes
Oracle Business Intelligence Applications repository (OBIAR?)

Spotted the trend yet!!

This is from the documentation.
Changes to Oracle BI Repository
The Siebel Analytics repository (SiebelAnalytics.rpd) was renamed to the Oracle Business
Intelligence Applications repository (OracleBIApplicationsApps.rpd).
The Oracle BI repository contains the following changes:
■ Naming conventions. Logical tables have been renamed to start either with "Dim," to indicate
dimension tables, or "Fact," to indicate fact tables.
■ Data security. The position security design was modified to use the new table W_POSITION_DH instead of W_PARTY_LOGIN. For more information about data security, see the Oracle Business Intelligence Applications Installation and Configuration Guide.
■ Presentation layer. Some old catalogs have been replaced with new catalogs. The catalogs that
have been replaced are designated with a STOP icon in the presentation layer; these catalogs
will be deleted in a future release. It is highly recommended that you migrate your reports to the corresponding new catalogs.
■ Time dimension. A common time dimension is used in all new catalogs to indicate a unified time dimension across all facts. Some secondary date dimensions are still exposed when necessary, but they are not conformed to all facts, and, thus, should be used cautiously.

I never did trust using the W_PARTY_LOGIN so I'm glad it has gone. I'll let you knwo what I think of the replacement when I have tested it.
Good to see a common time dimension, but how does it work? Again mre testing will tell.

Connecting People

Is there a clear winner in the war for Networking platforms?

I started using LinkedIn a while back and have developed a great network of business contacts, but then I realised that wasn't the first one I had signe dup to. Friends Reunited was the leader originally and everyone flocked onto the system - until they started charging for it - I was quickly out of there but not before they had made their millions. I wonder if they would have made more money by not charging but by going down the free model with extra paid services?

View Adrian Ward's profile on LinkedIn

Next came Xing (was previously OpenBC). This is exactly the same as Linked in but based in Europe (Linked In is avery American).


But now I see that IT Toolbox is getting in on the act. Do I really have to maintain a profile and network there too?

Then I get an email from someone who has a neat business card attached, from Plaxo. Looks like I should have that too.

Of course there's messaging too, obviously I went for MSN - everyone did, now Yahoo looks pretty good and half my contacts on on that, but along comes Skype and it's another list to maintain.

In the end I think I'll be spending all day working on my online presence and not actually talking to people. Why can't I just get one system that talks to every other system (hey isn't that what customers were asking for 20 years ago out of IT).

Come on Microsoft, help me out here - use your dominacne to buy all these companies and shut them down - I only want one system.

Monday, March 19, 2007

All gone

Just 4 hours later and the snow is gone

Snow wave

Last week i was in t.shirt s now i need some skis to get to work.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Make the most of your repository

Quick and Easy Mail Merge

Why not make the most of your repository, as well providing the backbone of your reports it is also a great source of clean organised data that is easily accessible by other programs. Here’s one way to address envelopes or letters using MS Access and Word.

Create a new blank database in Access.

Create a new query in design mode, close the Show Table dialogue and go to Query>SQL Specific>Pass-Through.

Now click on the Properties icon on the toolbar and click the ellipsis next to ODBC Connect Str, this will open the Select Data Source dialogue.

Click the Machine Data Source tab and click New and follow the instructions to create a Data Source Name based on Oracle BI Server from the drivers list, follow the instructions and enter appropriate user names and passwords to suit your systems configuration. Enter your repository user name and password and answer yes to save this information in the connection string.

Type your SQL query. Click the icon to run the query and test you SQL.

Now create another new query in design view, click the queries tab in the Show Table dialogue and select your pass through query, add the columns to the new query.

Click the drop down arrow next to the Query Type icon and select Make-Table Query, save the query with an appropriate name, and click the Run Query icon.

You will be presented with a warning about the number of records to be pasted into the table, dependent on your needs you may decide to set some selection criteria to break the list into more manageable chunks, this may depend on whether you are merging to a letter, labels or envelopes. You could create multiple Make- Table queries to populate appropriately named tables based on select by County, State, City or Name beginning with…... They can all be based on the one pass through query.

If you have the coding skills you can automate the running of these queries and refreshing of the tables.

Once the make table query has run, click Tables in the objects list and you will see the table you have created, select it navigate to the Tools>Office Links>Merge it with Microsoft Office Word, or click the down arrow next to the Office Links icon, follow the instructions in the dialogue, simple.

My friend Carol

Nice new top

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

An MI Strategy for ….?

I was doing some research today and decided I needed to reference some work I did TEN years ago.
This is not such a big deal, I keep everything. Absolutely everything.

All my emails, texts, databases, spreadsheets, code – the lot. With storage technology so cheap this is not such a difficult thing to do.

The only hurdle is to remember old passwords. I don’t have a password repository (keep meaning to get one though) so sometimes have to resort to OfficeKey – It tells me what the passwords are on my Office files.

Whilst looking I came across an article which amused me, it’s not funny, it’s just that it’s still relevant today, 10 years later.

Her are some extracts
“This document lays out some ideas on how to manage the gathering and assimilation of the necessary information to help run the Claims function of XYZ.

There are three main areas to consider for capturing information

  • Claims,
  • Telephones and
  • People/Costs.

For each I have laid out some ideas on principles and methods that could be adopted.

The second part of the document looks at who and specifically what is needed for effective Information Management(IM).”

So, XYZ had some Information needs, and I’ll bet they still do!!


Efforts should be made to get the <> data onto an OPEN platform in a full Data Warehouse.
I would recommend SQL Server, Oracle, DB2 or similar package.

Specific application development should be limited to 'must have for operational effectiveness’ systems.

If the data is on an open platform then user friendly packages such as Crystal reports, Access and Ms Query can extract quickly and cheaply the information required. The added benefit of this method is that there is a transfer of skills from IT to the Claims department.

Whilst the IT department is the guardian of the data they should not be the owners. Keeping the data on the mainframe and developing small but expensive solutions to use the data only serves the IT department not the users."

IT not the owners of data, heresy!

"Telephone Activity

All Aspect related data is already kept in a data warehouse on an Open platform. The data is available to view and download using Crystal Reports.
Relevant extracts should be taken from the warehouse and put into a Claims Information System.

Only one system should be used for reporting Claims Telephone activity to all users within the department, and outside of it. All reporting activity undertaken by Team leaders and others within the Claims dept. should stop and be given to one person/team.

Now why did I say this bit? All users should stop creating reports – Sounds mad but actually when you see HOW they are doing it, then they should stop – everyone was downloading some data into Access or Excel and creating their own reports. No-one managed with the same set of consistent KPI’s.

People/Cost Management

There is now more focus on individual, team, section and department performance. To aid this process Claims are currently using Workware. Having searched the market on several occasions I have not found a better product than Workware for planning and monitoring workloads. The alternative would be to use spreadsheets which I have seen in action but they become unstable and difficult to manage very quickly. I understand that Workware is in constant development and therefore I would recommend that the software is used after the initial period.

The normal Absent, sickness and holiday planning and monitoring should be integrated with roster production and performance tracking. This integration can be developed further by including training plans/actual courses, skills matrices and PPP production. The main aim must be to reduce the re-keying of staff lists and the elimination ‘re-inventing of the wheel’

With the advent of section managers taking responsibility for the cost centres representing their span of control it is more important than ever that cost information is captured, verified and analysed.

There are two main sources to aid cost centre management;
Finance reports
Personnel Databases

Each month the cost centre reports need to be checked for their accuracy, i.e. people salaries in the right cost centre.

All costs should be tracked over time and used in ratio analysis, such as cost per Claim Closed.

All costs that are incurred in a month should be shown in the cost centre reports. It has been common practice for the temp staff costs and other invoices to be shown in the accounts 2-3 months after they were incurred. This gives a false picture as to what is going on and can lead to poor decisions being made with regards to expenditure.

The budgeting process within claims should not be a huge exercise, which is separate from normal business planning. Re-forecasting the next 12-16 months should be a regular exercise, perhaps linked to the overall plans within Workware.

An understanding of settlement cost behavior must be developed in order to determine where resources are best deployed. This is best achieved by tapping into the skills of the actuarial department.

For all new projects and tactical/strategic decision making there should be an understanding of the impact from a cost point of view. Models must be developed to add weight to the decision or prevent mistakes."

WOW, Is Workware really that good. Can you run a large number of teams using it? I thought so at the time, and I still think so.

Now this is the good bit….

"Information Management

As a general rule all information should be available to all (with a few exceptions)
Ideally all information users should be identified before solving their needs for them!
Data should only be captured and information created if it aids decision making, such that the decision is influenced by having the data. For example keeping sickness records allows for changes to pay if the threshold is reached.

A small team 2/3 FTE should be created within claims. These people can be the local 'IT' experts but with a good knowledge of claims Dept. processes. They can facilitate the routine information needs and provide detailed analysis on Claims activity, individual performance and other ad-hoc. They can also be used to help improve the PC skills across the department, but should not be used as a 'Help desk'.

Any data capture and report production currently undertaken elsewhere within the Claims dept. should be brought within the control of the MI team. This includes all reports supplied by Secretaries, Team Leaders, Section managers and support areas.

The MI team should also be capable of supporting the use of Workware (or whatever system is used for work management)

The MI team should make full use of the latest available technology and not be held back by XYZ Co. mass standard PC policies, i.e. Use Crystal Reports and Intranet technology and NOT the current standard Office95.

To capture, analyse and report data a Claims Information System(CIS) should be developed using Ms Office technology. This is not an all singing-all dancing solution to all information needs but an integrated set of databases and spreadsheets that minimise the effort required and reduce errors in keying. The creation and maintenance of the system should be the sole responsibility of the members of the MI team.

To deliver information to end users the ideal solution is by the use of an intranet. This is a cost effective method of getting data to the desktop of the users. This can be introduced quickly and cheaply and used for all department information and not just for activity reports e.g. Working Practices can be kept online and updated easily. This solution is available now to all those with a PC.

The profile of information in general needs to be raised across the whole dept. For example; use can be made of notice boards to show graphs of output, service and quality. The whole dept should know what the MI team are producing and what data they hold so that tasks are not duplicated.

The Claims management should fully support the work of the MI team, especially in the data capture and processes they introduce. The MI team should be able to supply information directly to the Claims manager, or any manager without fear, i.e. do not shoot the messenger if the results are not favorable.


To enable a better decision making process more information is required by all members of the Claims department. This can be enabled in a cost-effective manner by Claims staff using their own skill and knowledge. The specialists’ within the IT department or elsewhere should not dictate when and how the Claims staff get the information they require, and expensive development work is not always the answer (Just think about what has been delivered to date!). A small team with skills in communication, claims and IT within the claims dept can deliver when and how YOU want them to.

Powerful stuff. Information available to all, using Web technology. I wish I had seen Siebel Analytics back then (when did NQuire start up?)

Obviously the tools are now there to reduce the need for Office applications (Access Db’s for reporting), specifically Oracle BI (ex Siebel Analytics), Essbase, Microstrategy and dozens of others.

I wonder if XYZ Co ever put a reporting system in?

Saturday, March 03, 2007


Just showing off the new phone:-)


I'm sending this from my mobile. We're at reading watching the kids enjoying their sailing

Friday, March 02, 2007

Oracle to buy Hyperion!

Ha. Good for Oracle.

Essbase is a horrible tool in my view but the accoutants love it, so Oracle have taken on a popular product, and have a foothold in hundreds more companies.

Trouble is, now I'm stumped as to how they are going to integrate Essbase into the new Oracle BI strategy, can and should Analytics work alongside (or on top of) Essbase cubes?

Also, I thought that the majority of Essbase systems were based on other database technologies.

Who next? Cognos? Business Objects themselves! SAS!!!

News item here

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bad News

Just heard that the Keel is still not attached to the bottom of our boat, and there's no mast either!

Looks like we're going to miss the first race of the season. Damn.

New Phone

Just a quck update to say that I ended up stayng with O2 but got a new phone, the Sony w880i

I just phoned them up to say I was going to switch and they haggled a bit, I pointed out better deals on Three and they matched them.

Now I'm due to pay £17.50 per month for a year for 600 minutes and 500 texts. Thats still only 20 minutes per day but it does work out at 2.9 pence per minute.

The phone looks really cool too


The Cowes

The Cowes
Cowes Racing