Adding Custom Dimensions to HFM

Mike Arnoldy

January 8th, 2015

With the release of HFM, HFM supports more than four custom dimensions. It will also allow the addition of custom dimensions to an existing application. Why add dimensions to your application? How do you add dimensions to an application and what are some considerations?

The most common reason to add dimensions to an application is for new reporting requirements. I recently worked with a company that was changing their management reporting. They needed to add not one or two but four dimensions to their application to support this initiative. In this case, none of the dimensions were very large with three of the four having fewer than 20 members. The application could have been rebuilt with the additional custom dimensions, but that would have required a much larger project with the associated data reload and validation effort. Adding the dimensions to the existing application was a much simpler solution. The process for adding custom dimensions works well and there is no reason not to take this approach if the need is there.

Getting Started

Before adding the custom dimensions, first create a current copy of your application, preferably in a development environment. You will need a copy of the application profile file. If this is not available, a new one can be created. It must match your current application though for periods, years and the existing custom dimensions. Open the application profile in the HFM windows client. This will allow the definition of the new custom dimensions to be added to the application profile.

Next Step

The next step is to load the updated application profile to the application. This is done in Consolidation Administration/Applications. Select the application to modify and select modify. You then select the updated application profile and load it into the application. When this step is completed, the existing data will then be in the [None] members of the new custom dimensions.

Updating the Metadata

Now the application metadata can be updated. First the metadata file needs to be opened in the HFM client metadata manager. Select Edit customs and import the updated application profile. This will update the metadata file to recognize the new custom dimensions. The Account attributes such as TopMember and EnableAggr will also be updated so that account attributes are available for the new custom dimensions. The members and hierarchies for the new custom dimensions members can then be added and the metadata file loaded into the application.

Additional Modifications

Once this step is complete, there are additional modifications that will be required to the application. Rules, Data Form and Financial Reports will need to be updated for the new custom dimensions. Of these, the rule updates will require the most effort. If the rules use variables to define the intersections with the custom dimensions, this task is relatively easy. The variables are just updated to add the new dimensions. If variables are not used, then rules have to be reviewed line by line to make the required changes. This could also be a good opportunity to enhance the rules file to use variables to define the custom dimension intersections and I have done this for companies during this process. If the rules use OpenDataUnit, further updates will be needed as this function does not support more than four custom dimensions.

Updating Existing Data Forms and Financial Reports

Updating the existing Data Forms and Financial Reports is fairly easy. For most existing forms and reports, this step consists of updating the POV for the correct members on the new custom dimensions. For the Data Forms this will probably be the [None] member and for Financial Reports the Top member. Of course depending upon what the requirements are regarding the custom dimensions, these may be handled differently with the new customs added to the rows or columns.

Ready to Populate

The application, complete with the new custom dimensions, is now ready to populate with data and use for reporting. A method to populate data into the new dimensions will need to be added to the existing data load processes or new processes will need to be developed.

Final Thoughts

There are some things to consider when contemplating adding dimensions to an application. Consideration needs to be given as to how the data will be populated. Is this data available in the current source systems? Will the data need to be sourced from a different system? Will it require manual input? Another consideration is if you are going thru the steps to add a custom dimension, maybe add an additional dimension or two. I have seen companies do this so that they have some flexibility to add something to the application in the future without having to go through the entire process again.

Mike Arnoldy

About Mike Arnoldy

Mike Arnoldy has over 20 years experience in all phases of design, development, and implementation of financial applications. He has exceptional problem-solving and architecting skills with a strong technical background. He specializes in financial consolidation applications that include complex calculations, foreign currency translation, inter-company/equity eliminations and varied reporting requirements to satisfy both external and management reporting needs. Mike is also a Certified Public Accountant.

One comment on “Adding Custom Dimensions to HFM”

  1. Vedavyas Anne says:

    Hi Mike –

    This post was pretty exciting and I started testing it immediately on my machine on HFM and I got stuck at Next Step where I could not find the option to load the updated profile file into the existing application from Consolidation Administration –> Applications. I really appreciate if youo could me resolve this.

    Thanks In Advance !

    Best Regards,

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