Procurement Services has created four new Discoverer reports designed to help departments identify which vendors and invoices have been placed on payment hold and what action needs to be taken to correct specific problems. The reports are:
PDW4X .PS-AP-110 Held Payment Vouchers
PDW4X .PS-AP-131 Held Invoices with No Valid Purchase Order
PDW4X .PS-AP-120 Held Invoices Matched to Valid Purchase Orders
PDW4X .PS-V-320 Vendors on Payment Hold
These reports should help departments resolve past-due invoices more quickly and efficiently. Departments are strongly encouraged to make full use of them in an effort to comply with the state's Prompt Pay law. More past-due invoices will be added to the system every day, so departments should run these reports frequently to make the most effective use of this resource.
Please see the Procurement Services web site for detailed descriptions of these reports and information on how to use them.
The revised and improved ODS Viewer class, Working with Pre-Defined Reports, now instructs users not only how to use Oracle Discoverer reports, but how to modify them to meet their individual needs. The class, now increased to 3.5 hours, includes information on how to sort and format the report, add a column to a report, schedule a report to run later, and export a report to Microsoft Excel. If you have already taken a course that covered Discoverer and want to learn more about how to modify your reports, register for the ODS Viewer course via the Training website.
Notice: The ISP has removed Sandbox for a while to ready it for Phase 2 training.
Oracle users who have attended recent presentations of GLGM 101: Oracle Financials @ UVA, the "big picture" course developed and offered by Financial Administration and the ISP, have come away with a much clearer image of how things work in Oracle. One user exclaimed that the slide on when to use recoveries vs. revenues vs. expenditure credits should be put on a T-shirt.
"Many viewers tell us that the presentation 'turns on light bulbs' on how some pieces fit together," reports Rick Seaman, director, Financial Information Services. "They attest that the slides provide new mental images they can call upon to help them remember how things work."
The primary audience for these presentations is people with the following Oracle responsibilities: GL specialist, award manager, and project manager. Presentations to units may be requested by contacting either your ISP advisor or Stacey Rittenhouse (set8t) in the Comptroller's office.
Take the guesswork out of choosing which Discoverer report to run. The Discoverer Predefined Reports Inventory, found in the Document Repository, will help you choose which report will best meet your needs. For each report, the inventory will tell you the name, intended user (central vs. department), purpose, description, parameters, page items, and columns. You can also sort to hasten your search, e.g. for reports for departmental users.
Check it out.
A major motivator to upgrade a product is when the vendor no longer supports it. Such was the case with the Oracle database the University installed for its July 2001 implementation. So, over the weekend of January 18, ISP upgraded the Oracle database in the production instance. This upgrade will also allow us to switch to a newer version (Version 184.108.40.206) of the j-initiator (the software that allows a user to log onto Oracle) on February 15, after all other databases are upgraded on other Oracle instances.
After we switch to the new j-initiator, Oracle users will be prompted to download and install it the next time they log onto the Oracle applications. You should follow the procedures on the ISP Website for specific instructions. Local Support Partners (LSPs) have received information on how to perform this installation, so you may want to contact the LSP in your area for assistance.
a. Internet Explorer users: the new j-initiator will be downloaded and installed automatically.
b. Netscape users: you will have to save the new j-initiator on your computer and then install it according to the instructions on the above-noted url.
Once the j-initiator is installed via one browser, it will work on all browsers.
The new j-initiator will work with all the operating systems that the current j-initiator supports (however, Windows 95 will no longer be supported by Oracle). In addition, it is supported by Oracle for use with Windows 2000. For all of you who have been waiting patiently for the Oracle applications to be Windows 2000 compliant, mark February 15 on your calendars.
WHAT'S IN THE WORKS
The ISP Taskforce took as its charge to list the problems large numbers of Oracle users were having with the system, identify solutions, and determine the best way to communicate those solutions. The problems that require changes to the system or to reports have been conveyed to the Applications Management Board for review and prioritization. Some solutions have already been identified and communicated, e.g. definitions of expenditure types, a Discoverer Reports inventory, and a Processing Funds website), clarifying who does what and how regarding deposits (all found in the Document Repository).
The Taskforce is now in the final stages of compiling answers to approximately 50 questions users have had regarding the system. The questions and answers will reside on the ISP Frequently Asked Questions website, to which users will be directed via email messages grouping the questions by subject matter. These messages will be rolled out in February.
As with most things in life, if you don't move forward with Oracle, you end up standing still or, perhaps, moving backwards. That was the strongest argument for avoiding customizations to the software, and it is already paying dividends. UVA has been able to apply many Oracle patches (improvements to the software prior to implementing the next version), something many other universities have been unable to do. These patches have significantly improved performance and fixed bugs in the software.
Now the project is looking to the future in formulating a strategic plan for a technical infrastructure that will support reporting needs of users two years down the road. "For every transaction we add to our database, many more are added behind-the-scenes to do the calculations that allow users to see what they need to see in reports," says Teresa Wimmer, the Integrated System Project and Applications Support Center technical lead. "That means that much more data must flow into the Operational Data Store (ODS) daily for reports to be useful. We want to be sure our technical infrastructure can accommodate such increases over time without negatively impacting system performance."
"Over the next month, we will be exploring what steps, resources, and skill sets will be required for us to reach that goal," says Bill Randolph, director of the Integrated Systems Project. "Our commitment is to supporting the Discoverer reporting tool and maximizing system performance over time."
Nothing gets a conversation heated faster than mentioning Discoverer reports. Steps are being taken on multiple fronts to lower the temperature.
"Good reports was one of the promises of the Oracle system," says Bill Randolph, ISP director. "We designed many reports pre-go-live based on requirements expressed by users. We knew there would be a need for additional reports and improvements to those we designed once users started doing their work in Oracle. We were not disappointed!"
So many requests for reports modifications to existing reports have been filed with the Integrated System Applications Management Board (AMB) that a users workgroup has been created to coordinate the requests and recommend to the AMB exactly what changes should be made to which reports. Workgroup members will be polling their constituencies to be sure they are representing their interests.
"This group will not be recommending new reports," says Shy Hicks, director of the Applications Support Center (ASC). "They are looking at existing reports to recommend changing or adding data elements, reformatting, shifting data elements, different or added calculations, etc."
Workgroup members include:
Please feel free to contact them with your ideas.
In addition to improving existing reports and improving the ODS Viewer class to include how to modify reports (see Revised ODS Viewer Class Tells How to Modify Reports above), two new reports training efforts are underway:
· The Creating Oracle Reports class is being modified to use real UVA data rather than Oracle-provided data.
· Longer term, an advanced class in creating Oracle reports will be designed to help reports builders understand the views, links, and fields behind the reports.
As these reports initiatives progress and others are undertaken, the products they generate should ease your reporting tasks and, it is hoped, cool down your reports chats.
Self Service Rolls Out to UVA Employees
PHASE 2 UPDATE
Four hundred potential future users of the Oracle Human Resources and Payroll applications have attended or are scheduled to attend an HR presentation that outlines the major HR/Payroll processes, introduces new Oracle terminology, and identifies what will be done the same way as today and what will be done differently.
"The session was definitely useful and worthwhile," reports Anita Long, human resources analyst for the University Office of Development. "Particularly helpful was finding out what the units will be doing differently than now (for example printing out the applications they want to review rather than receiving a stack of referrals from Human Resources), and learning that units will have fields that they can customize for their own use." Long also appreciated the opportunity to ask questions and put in context the assignment that units currently have of assigning a supervisor to each employee.
Presentations are scheduled through February 14. If you are not scheduled to attend a presentation and would like to, please contact Carole Horwitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning in mid-February, the ISP will be scheduling several demonstrations of the Oracle HR/Payroll applications to give future users an advance look. The look and feel of the screens will be familiar to current Oracle users. The demonstration, however, will provide a first look at what is on the HR, Payroll, and Time Management screens and how users will navigate between them.
ISP advisors will be notified of the times and locations of the demonstrations.
The Human Resources and Payroll teams have virtually completed their design phase. This means that decisions have been made regarding how the system will operate at the University of Virginia, what information will be housed in the applications, and what modifications will be made to the "off-the-shelf" applications.
Thus, the work now moves into the build and test phase, where technical team members are currently working on converting information from the legacy systems to the Oracle system and specifying the programming needs to accomplish required modifications.
Says Barbara Henry, phase 2 functional lead, "Our team members are working very hard to get all the pieces in place for a successful implementation."
Before people can work in an Oracle application, they must be assigned an Oracle responsibility in that application. However, those responsibilities are not pre-packaged. They are designed by the ISP team as soon as the application design is complete and the team can determine what breakdown in duties and approvals fits the culture of the University and requirements that allow the safe guarding of University funds.
The teams have reached that point, creating 19 Oracle HR and Payroll responsibilities, 12 of which will reside in the central offices. Within the next month, decisions will be made regarding who will be assigned which responsibilities. As with the finance applications, responsibilities are somewhat hierarchical. Therefore, employees will generally be assigned only one responsibility per application.
Once assignments are completed, employees will be advised that they have been assigned a responsibility and will be directed via email to enroll in appropriate training classes. By that time, we'll be in the final leg moving toward phase 2 implementation.
The Fixed Assets team has completed identifying their requirements and gaps, and is working with the central Property Accounting group to prepare for their first conference room pilot.
"The Oracle Fixed Assets application will be used primarily by a small group of central users to track equipment and building-related costs," explains Tim Gillet, fixed assets team lead. "As with the financial applications, however, others in the user community will be able to view their assets via reports either in the application or through Discoverer."