Chris’ blog #4 Putting Specialty Solutions in the right context
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OneStream and the myth surrounding Specialty Solutions

When you ask around in the OneStream community about driver-based planning, you will often be led immediately to Specialty Solutions which you download from the XF Marketplace, and install into your OneStream application. 

As any seasoned OneStream consultant will already know, Specialty Solutions bring the convenience of an ‘app store’, like on your smartphone, from which you quickly download and easily install. In contrast to other EPM products, you are not purchasing additional platforms or licenses and you don’t have to arrange for a new product installation on server machines.  With the Specialty Solutions you are extending an existing OneStream application to feature an additional specific finance function. 

The vast majority of Specialty Solutions have so far been geared towards financial planning. Unfortunately, this has created a dangerous myth about a “Consolidation Module” and a “Planning Module”: 

The Myth of Specialty Solutions in OneStream
Myth

From my own experience the Financial Cubes, so heavily used by “Phase 1” Actual reporting, are almost neglected in the discussions on driver-based planning. That’s a shame, and this is something we are going to put straight here.

The other reality is that Specialty Solutions are rarely talked about within the context of Actual reporting; or that was the case at least until our IFRS16 Specialty Solution came along.

The reality about OneStream and Specialty Solutions
Reality

Financial Planning often involves going down to individual assets, investments in projects (capital planning/capex), named staff (people planning), as well as other details such as loans and leases, or SKUs. In traditional EPM products, you would have to build every SKU, Asset, Named Staff, Project, into the master data structures. That means that as soon as you add a new employee, or a new capex project, you would have to change the master data (metadata). With several staff changes or new products happening every month, this would be a nightmare to maintain and cause performance problems because such unstructured detail does not fit well into a cube.

The examples mentioned here (SKUs, Assets, Named Staff, Capex Investments, Leases, Loans) are all types of data that can be viewed as a register of information, rather than something structural like a cube dimension. OneStream allows you to store such details in a register table. Unlike using a financial cube, users can easily add/remove new details from the register, see the impact on the calculated plan, and report and analyse the summarized financial results using the reporting cube. In other words, you store the data in the most efficient form. For OneStream this is a game changer.

Specialty Solutions are only part of a Financial Planning application

To re-cap, with so much sales focus on MarketPlace XF solutions these days, you would be forgiven for coming away with the myth that was mentioned earlier, that “Specialty Solutions is the name for Onestream’s Planning Module”, which is far from the truth. This is a good opportunity to re-visit what you get in Onestream aside from the MarketPlace XF (Specialty) solutions.

Specialty Solutions are there to implement only specific parts of your planning model. For everything else, you use the OneStream financial model: cubes, workflows, cube views, dimensions and cube calculations.

In the next blogs we look at design considerations for Data Forms (cube views) with a specific focus on planning. It incorporates one design for many scenario types, and Matrix-Controlled row filtering.

About the author

Chris Loran works in the EPM field for over 13 years. From working with Hyperion at Hyperion Solutions, Oracle, Partake and EY to working with OneStream and Oracle HFM at Agium EPM.

Within his Leas Consultant function at Agium EPM he worked on the OneStream implementation at Guardian Industries. They have one of the most extensively used OneStream platforms in which they consolidate, budget and perform advanced driver-based planning.

Disclaimer: These blogs are meant purely for educational use and discussion. The purpose is to raise awareness of the strengths of the Onestream platform and how it could be made even better, as well as approaches to application design and building, and stimulate discussion. Experiences mentioned in these blogs are those specifically of the author and may not be the experience of other CPM consultants. The views expressed are those of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views of any CPM or EPM software vendor, nor their consulting partners.
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