Detailed planning with Oracle at Jiffy Group

Detailed planning at Jiffy Group

With Oracle EPM

The Jiffy Group operates worldwide in consulting, sales, production and distribution of a wide range of products for the horticultural sector. The organization wants to see more details of its assortment reflected in its financial and commercial reports. To this end, the international organization is moving from on-premise Hyperion Essbase to the cloud solution PBC.

"Practically speaking, a cloud solution is attractive," says Dirk-Jan Bax of Jiffy Group about choosing Oracle PBC (Planning and Budgeting Cloud). "The initial investment is lower, the scalability is better and software upgrades are automatic, so you always have access to the most up-to-date functionality." The Jiffy Group, headquartered in Kristiansand, Norway, is a global supplier of environmentally friendly propagation systems, hydroponic systems, containers and substrates. In doing so, the organization uses renewable resources and biobased materials, such as peat, coir, pulp and other biomass.

The Jiffy Group has been using Hyperion Essbase for many years. The choice to add an additional planning solution to it was mainly driven by the need for more functionality and more ease of use, for both end users and application administrators. Dirk-Jan: "Together with Finext we looked at a logical step. A choice you make in this regard is made for several years and of course there are investments involved. Hyperion Essbase is still the basis, but on top of that, together with Finext, we were able to concretely fulfill various functionality needs."

Financial and commercial reporting with Oracle PBC

One of these choices was to integrate the different applications more, for a combination of financial and sales reporting. "Users can now - depending on their authorization profile - use different reports regardless of whether they are more financial- or sales-oriented." says Dirk-Jan. "This has been very positively received by the user organization. In addition, the way in which information is made available has become considerably more user-friendly."

"We can now see at the item level which product was sold from which warehouse, at what price and by what margin."

The commercial reports provide details such as production quantities and sales quantities, as well as which sales people sold how many of which products. "With the sales reports, we want to make all dimensions transparent. Where we used to stop at the product group level in Hyperion Essbase, we can now see at item level which product was sold from which warehouse, at what price and with what margin," continues Dirk-Jan.

A combination of two databases

That much detail does demand something of the underlying databases. "Hyperion Essbase has two types of databases; the block storage database is very suitable for calculation, while the aggregate storage is more focused on reporting," explains Martin de Haan. Martin is closely involved in Jiffy Group's planning solution from Finext. "A dimension with 1000 members is still possible in block storage, but with 8000 members it takes a lot of performance to make the calculations. Then you prefer to choose aggregate storage."

So to keep the performance of the detailed reports good, a special solution was created. Martin: "We chose a combination of the two different types of databases. In the block storage, calculations are first done at a lower level, then it is aggregated dynamically in the aggregate storage."

This combination is especially necessary for sales reporting. "It allows us to see details down to item level, but also to perform calculations on the sales database. Think, for example, of calculations such as year-to-date and price conversions," Dirk-Jan explains. "Calculating and reporting is very fast, by the way. The best things about both types of databases come into their own this way."

Making conscious choices in structure

The considerations surrounding the design not only included the current planning process. Dirk-Jan: "This application provides many more as yet unused application possibilities. Step by step, we will look at which ones can add value for Jiffy." In the future, for example, the Jiffy Group also wants to look at the possibility of facilitating reporting and/or planning needs of production and logistics from Oracle PBC. "We want to get the dimensions right at the highest level now, so that we don't make choices we will regret later. In that, Finext is helping us well."

"Finext has a very pragmatic mindset, which they combine with knowledge of the technologies on the market."

Dirk-Jan has been working with Finext for nearly 20 years. "We like working with parties who are informal and principled where they have to be, but pragmatic where they can be. We want to feel like you're both on the same page. Finext is very pragmatic, which they combine with knowledge of the technologies on the market."

Unburdened by Oracle PBC

In addition to Martin, Gabor Wieringa of Swap Support, a sister organization of Finext, was also involved. Swap Support specializes in support around Performance Management applications. Martin: "By default, Oracle makes a backup every night. However, if you made an error that you don't find out about until the next day, that error is in the new backup. Gabor has created an additional backup script, which you can activate yourself."

The cooperation with Gabor has been mainly through Martin. "That is very pleasant, as a user I want to be relieved in this area," Dirk-Jan explains. "Issues usually come at an unfortunate time. In our field, we are constantly working with deadlines; there is rightly limited understanding among various stakeholders if we cannot report. If we run into something that we can't solve ourselves, I call Finext and I can be sure it gets the right attention. They help me get back up and running quickly. The number of times this has been necessary, by the way, has been very limited and mainly in the start-up phase."

Reporting shell

Jiffy Group is positive about the advances in functionality from the supplemental planning solution. "We can report and analyze much more easily. Some of this analysis power was already available in Hyperion Essbase, but it has deepened further as we have more detail available on a number of dimensions. The reporting shell is of great added value." Martin: "The dimensions are automatically imported via Oracle PBC, after which FDMEE is used as an integration tool to load the data."

Not only do the insights from the reports add value, creating the reports has also improved. "When you start Oracle PBC you can request a report, via an on-screen drop-down menu you then choose the product group," says Dirk-Jan. For a paper version, it is easy to set up a pdf with all the variants from the drop-down menu. This pdf is also easy to read on a screen. Martin: "So you get a report booklet at the push of a button."

As a result, the new planning tool saves a lot of time. "Ultimately, from finance, you have only one goal: to add value and serve your customers," concludes Dirk-Jan. "This solution helps with that."