A day in the life of an Oracle Applications Consultant

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Oracle OpenWorld - London Conference

I’ll be attending Oracle OpenWorld London and this post contains details of the sessions I will be attending and preparing write ups on.

I’m moving to the UK permanently on the 5th of September and was lucky enough get a Full Conference Complementary Pass for Oracle OpenWorld London, which is running at the ExCel Centre from the 6th - 8th of September 2004. I’ll spend my first 3 days in the UK having job interviews and also attending OpenWorld which is a rather nice way to spend my first days there. If any readers would be interested in meeting at the conference and chatting then fire a mail my way.

I’m hoping to provide comprehensive coverage of the conference on this blog by preparing write ups on the presentations and uploading some pictures and video clips - time permitting. I’m planning to take a look at a lot of the new features and products on offer in Oracle Applications, like 11i10 (11.5.10), Internal Controls Manager (ICM), Enterprise Planning and Budgeting (EPB) and Daily Business Intelligence (DBI). For the first time in my life, I’ve used the conference schedule builder provided on the OpenWorld web site to ascertain which presentations I would like to attend as I’ve decided to try and be a bit more organised this time around. My programme is looking as follows: -

Monday 6th September 2004
  • Keynote: Utility Computing - are we there yet? - John Manley, Director, Application Services Department, HP Laboratories Bristol and Peter Hindle, Enterprise Solutions, Business Manager, HP UK
  • Session 7648: Financials Best Practices - Steve Miranda, Oracle Corporation
  • Session 7646: Increasing Control: Centrally Managing Statutory Requirements and Corporate Policy Compliance - Michelle Maden and Olivier Arthus, Oracle Corporation


Tuesday 7th September 2004
  • Keynote: Protecting Your Assets: While Spending Less and Storing More - Tim Pitcher, Vice President, Northern Europe & Middle East, Network Appliance, Inc.
  • Session 7606: Beyond E-Government - Iain Campbell and Ian Watmore, Oracle Corporation.
  • Session 7396: Lean Asset Lifecycle Management - Robert Brown, Georg Reindl and Kenneth Mitchell, Oracle Corporation
  • Session 7226: Customer Data Hub and Oracle Information Architecture (OIA) - Steve Miranda, Oracle Corporation
  • Session 7995: Oracle Application Implementation Methodology (AIM) and EMC Proven Solutions - David Clarke, EMC Corporation


Wednesday 8th September 2004
  • Keynote: Transformation of Industry through Technology - Tom Garrison, Director of Enterprise Marketing, Intel EMEA
  • Session 7650: General Ledger: Improve the Transparency and Auditability of Your Corporation - Rob Zwiebach, Oracle Corporation
  • Session 7652: Revenue and Receivables Management: Instill Strong Corporate and Fiscal Discipline - Fred Studer, Oracle Corporation

Mmm… I notice Larry is not giving a keynote, he must be going sailing 😊

Friday, August 27, 2004

University of Florida ERP Implementation - Bridges

This post contains a review of the University of Florida Bridges site which contains some useful documentation and training material on the implementation of Enterprise Systems.

The University of Florida has a really good site called "Bridges" which provides documentation and training material relating to the implementation of systems in their organisation.

According to their site: -

UF Bridges is a multi-year project to replace the University’s current computer systems with new Web-based, integrated systems that provide real-time information and improve university business processes. This is known as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. The University purchased ERP software from PeopleSoft for its financial, human resources, payroll and student administration functions, and enterprise data warehouse and reporting functions from Cognos (a PeopleSoft partner).

Although the solutions being implemented at this University are not Oracle Applications related I thought the site would be helpful for the following reasons: -

  1. It provides some good examples of the type of documentation and training material that should be prepared when implementing Enterprise Systems.
  2. The documentation and training material will provide readers with a good understanding of the business processes for each of the functional areas within an organisation (e.g. Finance, HRMS)
  3. There are various presentations available that give an idea of the issues that one needs to think about when implementing ERP systems.
  4. The site provides a good example of how to effectively manage the knowledge gained in an organisation as a result of such an implementation.

The training section is probably the most useful area of this site. It provides instructions guides, classroom training presentations and handouts, classes on video and web tutorials which cover the following functional areas: -

  • Enterprise Reporting
  • Finance
    • Overviews
    • Core User
    • Customer Relations
    • General Ledger/Budgets
    • Purchasing and Payables
      • Requisitions
      • Change Requests
      • Receiving
      • Vouchers
      • Procurement Card (PCard)
    • Sponsored Programs
    • Travel and Expense
  • Human Resource Management Systems
    • Hiring
      • Staff, OPS and Student Positions
      • Faculty Positions
    • Position and Job Actions
    • Distributions and Pay
    • Reporting Time
    • Using Leave
    • Approving Time and Leave
    • Workflow

Within the training section there are also some really good Project Presentations. Highlights are as follows: -

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Oracle Partner Feature - IT Convergence

This post contains a review of the IT Convergence web site and highlights some useful downloads they have.

I recently came across the IT Convergence web site where they have some useful white papers to download. IT Convergence is an Oracle Partner and according to their site: -

IT Convergence is an e-Business consulting firm. We provide an entire range of services from initial business analysis and project planning, to full suite implementation and staff augmentation. We offer complete solutions for the implementation, upgrade, or customization of Enterprise Resource Planning systems. To help you manage the entire applications lifecycle, IT Convergence offers customized training for every skill level—given on-site, in a classroom, or remotely via the Internet. Our remote support services can assist your company with all types of technical and functional needs.

We put intensive effort in selecting only the best consultants to deliver superior services. We support the development of their skills through training and special courses, enabling consistent performance on the job. Our people bring years of experience working for top companies in numerous industries, including Finance, Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, Higher Education, Government, Telecommunications, and Semiconductor.

The company has it’s headquarters in California and has offices in the following locations worldwide: -

  • Madison, USA
  • New York, USA
  • Chicago, USA
  • Mexico
  • Singapore
  • Philippines
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • London, UK
  • Shanghai, China

Highlights of Oracle white papers you can download from this site are as follows: -

You can also download a presentation they delivered at an Outsourcing SIG meeting held at Appsworld in January 2004 entitled Choosing a Hosting Provider - Suggestions and Solutions (269KB) by Oscar Villalvazo, ISS Practice Manager.

Monday, August 23, 2004

ExpressionEngine Rocks!

This post contains details of my recent upgrade to ExpressionEngine v1.1 and contains the reasons why I decided to go with EE as my blogging software.

I’ve just successfully completed my upgrade to ExpressionEngine (EE) v.1.1 which went really smoothly. From the front end readers won’t notice much difference but those who are authors will notice quite a few changes in the back end. I’ve also recently added to the site a plugin which allows readers to use HTML tags in their comments.

I have to say that I really like the EE product and believe it is the best available blogging software available right now. I was recently asked why I chose to go with EE as opposed to Moveable Type or other types of blogging software available. Very simply put, in my mind EE is the best blogging software available right now for running the type of blog that I have established - below I’ve provided the background as to how I made this decision.

Background to the establishment of OracleAppsBlog

My first effort at developing an online web presence was my home page at Having established this site and after monitoring my log files for quite some time I realised that I was not getting as much traffic as I expected. A bit of investigation in to how I could increase my traffic and exposure on the Internet made it clear to me that I was going to have to produce good content and update that content on a regular basis. At this point in time my home page was really what we in the IT industry call brochureware i.e. it just had a bit of information about me, some good links and various white papers, articles and presentations but wasn’t really interactive in any way. I then came across Mark Rittmans site and realised that I could do something similar with an Oracle Applications orientation.

I decided that if I was going to do the blog thing that I would do it properly so I bought a few books on blogging and investigated all the possible software packages I could use. Initially I wanted to integrate the blog into my home page but then decided to have a dedicated site for it. My investigations as to what types of software I should use led me to believe that there were really only two software packages worth considering, namely Moveable Type and pMachine. One of the other things I decided when I started up the blog is that I would purchase the best software available no matter what the cost (within reason). I’ve always believed in purchasing quality products even if you have to pay a bit more. Hence, I purchased both Moveable Type and pMachine’s big brother ExpressionEngine as by this stage I was wanting to establish two blogs, one for my Oracle Applications work and another one related to web design. My intention was to use ExpressionEngine for OracleAppsBlog and Moveable Type for WebDesignBlog. Firstly, I established OracleAppsBlog and have to say that the site has taken off quite well. At this point in time I have 159 members and in the last month my daily statistical averages were 3850 hits, 3387 page views and 412 visitors. About a month after establishing OracleAppsBlog I started up WebDesignBlog and wanted to use Moveable Type for this. After struggling to get it set up (ExpressionEngine set up was much easier) I finally managed to get the site operational. After playing around with Moveable Type and looking at it’s features for about a day I decided to bin it (US$150 down the drain) and use ExpressionEngine to set up the site (went and bought another EE license). My primary reasons for doing this were as follows. Firstly, Moveable Types capability to act as a community oriented blog seemed to be very limited when compared to EE. With both of my blogs I wanted to have other people participating as authors and also to be able to join as members and correspond with each other. Secondly, the category management features in Moveable Type again did not match up with those of EE. For both of my blogs I wanted to have a number of different categories and to have the capability to create parent and child relationships between the categories. i.e. have main categories and sub categories within the main categories. EE provides you with the ability to create an unlimited number of levels of categories, otherwise referred to as nested category trees. Thirdly, Moveable Type provided very limited blacklist features. EE allows you to blacklist by URL, portions of a URL, IP address or User Agent whereas Moveable Type only allows you to block an IP.

Lastly and perhaps most important, I paid the same price for Moveable Type and ExpressionEngine and my perception was that for what I was paying ExpressionEngine provided a lot more features and hence gave me much better value for money. I recently read a much more detailed and comprehensive comparison of pMachine and Moveable Type at this site. The authors findings correspond to most of what I have said here although he takes a more holistic view than I have. The only problem I have ever had with ExpressionEngine was paying for it as they use PayPal which is not supported here in Africa and doesn’t seem to be supported in any "developing" or third world nations. However, they do offer alternative means of payment and you can always make an arrangement with them to use these.

Running this blog has been most enjoyable and I have found it is a very effective way to consolidate my existing knowledge gained in the years I’ve been an IT consultant. It’s been said that to learn you must teach and certainly this is what happens when you blog. Having established OracleAppsBlog and seeing it take off so well has made me wish that I had started something like this years ago (whether is was offline or online). If you are a professional in any industry I believe it’s imperative to document what you are learning at each stage of your career lifecycle. It’s particularly important to document problems encountered and how these were resolved as this will not only help you but also other people. Obviously, writing about your own personal experiences and learnings is also beneficial - that’s one of my future project’s!

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Export data directly to Excel by configuring the MIME Type Profile Option

This post outlines how to export your Oracle Applications data directly to Excel by configuring a profile option.

Typically when choosing to export the results of a query or search in Oracle you will choose the File > Export option on the Oracle Applications menu. The data you desire to be exported will by default be exported as a tsv (tab separated values) file which can easily be read using notepad or wordpad. Should you wish to, this file can also easily be imported into Excel by opening the file from within Microsoft Excel and simply clicking Finish when the text import wizard appears.

On a couple of Oracle Applications systems that I worked on I noticed that choosing the File > Export was exporting the results directly to an Excel spreadsheet embedded within a browser. This can often be a better route to take than exporting into a tsv file and then importing into Excel. Subsequent investigation as to why various systems I worked on behaved differently when executing file export revealed that this behaviour is largely controlled by the MIME Type profile option and the parameters that are specified herein.

At this point I believe it’s appropriate to define what MIME is so that readers can understand exactly what they are doing when configuring this profile option. According to the definition of MIME is as follows: -

Short for Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, a specification for formatting non-ASCII messages so that they can be sent over the Internet. Many e-mail clients now support MIME, which enables them to send and receive graphics, audio, and video files via the Internet mail system. In addition, MIME supports messages in character sets other than ASCII. In addition to e-mail applications, Web browsers also support various MIME types. This enables the browser to display or output files that are not in HTML format.

Essentially MIME ensures that there is an association between a non-ASCII file and the application that is needed to read it. In our particular instance, within the MIME Type profile option we need to specify a parameter that will tell our default browser to open the file in Excel, Word or another application you would like to see the results in. By default the MIME type profile option has the following parameter: text/tab-separated-values. Changing this value to application/excel or application/winword will result in any export of query results in Oracle being sent directly to Excel or Word respectively. The value of the second portion of this parameter (in this instance excel or winword) depends on what command you need to execute in Windows to run either of these applications. You can determine this by looking at what command you run to open an XLS (Excel) file or DOC (Word) file in Windows. In Windows Explorer, on the file menu, choose Tools > Folder Options > File Types Tab, select the DOC or XLS extension and then click on Advanced. Following on from this, click on the Open Action and then select Edit…The name of the command to run the application associated with this file type will be specified in the Application: box.

As a final test as to whether you have determined the correct command that needs to be used to run Excel or Word, from the Windows Start button choose Run and then type in the command (in this intance excel or winword) and click OK. Your Word or Excel application should run.

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