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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Offline Budgeting and Planning

Have you ever been on a plane and said to yourself, “there aren’t enough Jack Daniel's miniatures aboard for me to have to sit through Santa Clause 3 again, but if I could just enter my Q4 forecast numbers, I’d be all set for the remainder of this ten hour flight.” Or, maybe you were driving down the Pacific Coast Highway thinking, “if I could only finish annotating my annual budget right now, my trip to the beach would be so much more enjoyable.” [Disclaimer here that I would never condone driving and budgeting or driving and doing anything else besides just driving, for that matter…] Or, maybe you’ve stayed at that Motel 17 out in nowhere with a download speed of 1 kb (+/- .5 kb) per hour and lost your budget updates no less than 20 times.

Ok, maybe not… But certainly, there is value in being able to access a budgeting system while disconnected from the system. Whether you’re on a plane or staying in a remote location, there’s inevitably a time when a deadline is looming and you just have to finish your work. Hyperion Planning provides a solution for this dilemma through the offline capabilities of the Smart View Excel add-in tool.

Smart View is a tool that allows you to pull Hyperion Planning data web forms into Excel. Once a form is in Excel, you can essentially perform all the same functions that you can in Planning web. With Smart View, you can input data and save it to Essbase, use the adjust data feature, enter supporting detail and cell text, and run business rules and calc scripts. You even have the same look and feel as a web form with expandable parent members, page drop-down boxes, green read-only cells, and yellow updated cells.

The process for taking a Planning data form offline in version 11 is fairly simple:

  1. The application has to first be enabled for offline usage. Set this by going to Administration -> Manage Properties -> Application Properties and setting ENABLE_FOR_OFFLINE to true. This is the default setting.
  2. Next, you need to enable individual data forms for offline usage. Edit a form, go to the Other Options tab, and click the Enable Offline Usage box.
  3. Open the data form(s) in Smart View and click Take Offline. You can choose to take a single form, multiple forms, or an entire form folder and its contents offline.
  4. Select the page dimension members to store offline. You can either choose to take all page members or just a subset.
  5. Provide a connection name and click Finish.
At this point, the necessary application components are copied from the server to your local machine. Basically, a smaller version of the application is created on your system, including necessary outlines, calc scripts, dimension members, data, substitution variables, and web forms. The download can be quite large depending on the number of items you choose to include. To minimize the download time and system footprint, you will want to limit the web forms and page dimensions to only those that you will truly need.

Once all the components complete their download, you can work in your subset of the application to your heart’s content, all while being disconnected from the network. You can essentially perform the same operations as if you were still connected, with the following exceptions:
  • When you save information, you are saving it to your local machine.
  • When you log into the application in Smart View, you no longer log in through the Common Provider. You now go to Independent Provider Connections and open your offline connection there (named in step 5 above).
  • Currency conversion is not supported for offline usage.
This offline connection can be accessed as many times as you’d like, continually opening, saving, and closing it until it’s synchronized back to the server.

Take the following steps to push any updates in your offline connection back up to the network server:
  1. Open the offline connection.
  2. Click Sync Back To Server.
  3. Log into the application on the server.
  4. Select which forms, folders, and page members to sync back.
After the upload is complete, I generally delete the offline Independent Provider Connection to remove the application files from my machine.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell. So, the next time you're in the middle of the Gobi Desert or standing on the edge of a crater rim on Mount Kilimanjaro, you'll have the comfort of knowing you can still get your work done. If, on the other hand, your motto is "when I'm away from work, I'm away from work", then just forget everything you just read.