Oracle Hyperion Workforce Planning – Let’s Take a Look

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May 22nd, 2013


Workforce Planning Overview

This blog series is intended to provide Oracle Hyperion Planning consultants with some useful background, recommendations, and food for thought as they prepare to implement Workforce Planning.  It is not a replacement for the product documentation or an implementation cookbook.

What is Workforce Planning and should you be using it?

Oracle Hyperion Workforce Planning is a collection of predefined Planning objects and code that function together as an integrated driver-based model to create Workforce-related Expense plans.  The key components include:

  • Web forms
  • Business Rules
  • Accounts
  • Member formulas
  • Menus
  • Variables/Runtime Prompts (Year, Period, Scenario, Version)
  • UDAs (Actual) – used to protect Actuals data from being calculated.
  • Smart Lists, Smart List Entries

Among other things, Workforce Planning calculates:

  • Headcount
  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Taxes

Special functionality; difficult or inefficient to duplicate

  • Transfer In / Transfer Out (must be limited to departments or cost centers with the same base currency; cross-currency transfers are not supported)
    • One-sided (two-steps; usually due to security limitations)
      • Sending manager executes the Transfer Out business rule
      • Receiving manager executes the Transfer In business rule to accept the employee(s) and also set other values required, and which are not transferred from the original cost center or department.
  • Two-sided (one-step)
    • The planner uses the Transfer business rule (requires security access to the source and target member combinations)
    • Planned departures
    • Change of status (Maternity Leave, Leave of Absence)
    • Smart Lists for user-friendly input of drivers such as performance ratings; these drive Bonus and Merit Increase calculations, and ultimately, Total Compensation.
    • Reconciliation of To Be Hired employees to actual new hires.

Where Do I Start?

Drivers wanted

Workforce Planning includes a tremendous amount of functionality, but should you build your own application or license the Oracle module?  It is no secret that generally consultants will like to build things from scratch and Sales will prefer to sell licenses – and both have good arguments.  Building from scratch means no limitations, which is good, except that it also means building everything yourself.  A licensed module means most of the application is already built and just needs configuration to work with a particular organization’s structure and data.  The logic has already been determined and it means rules have been tested and processes defined.  Calculation order and task flow are laid out already.  Documentation and support both exist.

Pop-up solution

How important is employee expense planning to the overall financial planning process?  If all of the management attention is on Revenue or non-labor expenses, Workforce may be a pop-up application that allows the team to move on to the core value.  Planning projects generally have a lifespan of 3-6 months for fairly straightforward projects to 1 year or more for really involved applications.

Business model

It might make sense to license the Workforce Planning module if your organization needs to plan its workforce by individual, is U.S.-based (or primarily U.S.-based), needs to manage employee status (leave of absence, maternity leave, etc.), and wants the flexibility to plan departures and transfers.  If you are planning for a foreign organization or one with a significant foreign workforce, you should be aware that Workforce Planning is very U.S.-biased, and you will need to create your own accounts and logic for various employee benefits and tax categories that do not come with the product.  This does not automatically disqualify Workforce Planning from consideration; it just means the cost of customization must be considered when doing a cost comparison vs. the “build” option.

Actions drive Status (member formula), which determines whether and how much Salary to calculate for the period.

Action->Status->Salary

Salary drives Total Salary which is used to calculate Taxes.

Salary->Total Salary->Taxes

Salary and other Employee-related expenses drive Total Compensation.  Together with Taxes, Total Compensation drives Expenses.  Very few Accounts are static inputs.  Most of the model is driven by user or administrator inputs that are calculated using predefined logic, and designed to be an agile tool for planners.  The rules make significant use of variables and loops to minimize the effort for users.

Is a custom solution required, or would one be more suitable given the requirements?

Once you know Workforce can meet the basic requirements it is a good idea to drill-down on the real requirements again in case there is something that requires a truly custom solution, such as sharing employees across departments.  If nothing disqualifies it, there is still the question of building the same functionality from scratch.  Short of engaging in blatant plagiarism, is it possible to build the required functionality for the same or less cost as the license?  Even leaving aside the objects which you cannot create, can you still design, build, and test a driver-based system that allows for transfers between departments where each manager has security access to only their side of the transaction?  What about calculating overtime for hourly employees?

Workforce Planning provides more functionality than at first meets the eye.  Features that are often overlooked or not well understood include:

  1. Easy user-controlled undo of transfers.
  2. Transfers can be done in one step or two.
  3. Reconciliation of To Be Hired employees to actual new hires using a business rule and web form.
  4. Business rules adjust automatically for multicurrency applications.

Conclusion:  Unless you have requirements that cannot be efficiently met with Workforce Planning, or which cannot be met at all with its predefined logic and structure, it should be given strong consideration due to the rich feature set and relative ease with which it can be implemented.

Recommendation: Do not put Workforce in with the assumption that “someday” the client will need everything.  Anything not being used should be removed to avoid confusion and improve performance.  

This is Part I of a three-part blog series on Oracle Hyperion Workforce Planning.


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