Project Partners Blog


Archive for the ‘Services’ Category

By Steve Sexton

In recently working with a major software company, it became quickly apparent that this organization was a great example of the scenario many captive services businesses face as the high-tech industry continues to evolve. Experiencing declining revenue and margin, this organization is introducing significant change to align and execute against new go-to-market strategies, but the organization’s operational maturity and supporting infrastructure will have to rapidly progress to support performance goals and its ability to invest in developing strategic capabilities.  Read the rest of this entry »

By Neeraj Garg

Oracle E-Business Suite Project Costing

Labor Costing Enhancements: Labor transactions in Oracle Projects can now be costed via several new methods:

  1. Costing using HR Rates (includes support for multiple rates and rate by criteria). This feature now enables support for the Davis-Bacon Act.
  2. Support in Oracle Time and Labopr for additional data to be captured to support rate by Criteria.
  3. Total Time reporting. This feature allows the standard/actual cost for Exempt employees to be automatically pro-rated over all hours charged to projects by the employee. Prior to this enhancement, exempt employee costs could be over-counted if they charged more than the standard working hours.
  4. Labor costing using Payroll actuals. This feature supports using actual payroll costs to drive project labor costs. Support is included for Oracle Payroll or a third party payroll system.
  5. When using Payroll actuals for labor costing, you can choose to accrue labor cost using standard rates prior to payroll run. This allows you to continue billing all project costs using the accrued standard cost and then post adjustment entries to invoices based on the actual payroll run. When combined with the “Adjusted transactions on standard invoice” feature in Oracle Project Billing, this makes the accrual adjustment feature seamless to the end client.
  6. Expenditure Batch Reversal: In order to support the payroll feature of reversing a payroll run, Oracle Project Costing now supports reversing the costing for an expenditure batch and reverting the costed transactions to an uncosted state.

Integration to Oracle Complex Maintenance,Repair, and Overhaul (cMRO):  Support for unplanned and non-routine  maintenance has been added to the integration to Oracle cMRO in addition to existing support for Regular maintenance. Such maintenance visits/activities can now be associated to new or existing projects/tasks.

Enhanced Cost Collection by Cost Code: A new classification –Cost Code – is now available on a project/task. A Cost Code can be a multi-segmented attribute and can be setup to represent a hierarchy of values.  These cost codes are predefined during implementation and can be associated to a project. Each task can then be assigned one or more values for the cost code. Once this is done, all actuals must now include valid cost code values in addition to project and task. This allows for more granularity in setup and collection of actual costs and easy comparison of similar types of costs across projects and tasks for metrics like productivity that are key in the Engineering and Construction industry.

Self-Assessed Tax from Payables: Oracle E-Business Suite Projects Applications will now bring over any self-assessed tax on project related supplier invoices from Oracle Accounts Payable as a project expense.

Oracle E-Business Suite Project Billing

Standard Invoicing for Adjusted Transactions: Adjusted transactions can now be included on a net new invoice instead of going to a credit memo. This is controlled via an option at the project and task level for labor transactions only, or for all transactions.

Oracle E-Business Suite Project Management

Planning with HR Rates: If you use the HR Rates option for labor costing, these rates are also available in the planning screens (WorkPlans and Financial Plans) to determine planned cost for labor lines.

Forecasting Using Updated Rates: When generating a forecast, ETC amounts are now computed using updated rates (from the rate schedules) for all rate based resources.

Planning Without Resource Classes: You can now plan for projects, tasks and resources without assigning a resource class. This allows additional flexibility in determining the planning granularity

Planning by Cost Codes: You can now plan by cost code (assigned to project/task) and further at any level of the cost code you choose.

Technology 

Online Patching: In addition to these features specific to Oracle E-Business Suite Projects, the biggest technology update is Online Patching.  Online Patching uses the Oracle Database 11g Release 11.2.0.2 feature of “edition-based” redefinition to significantly reduce the downtime traditionally needed for patching and related maintenance activities.

The way this works is fairly elegant. An “edition” is a private environment in which you can redefine database objects. With online patching, patches are applied to a separate edition while users are working with the original edition. After applying patches, the system is cut over to make the patch edition the new production edition. After the initial upgrade to Release 12.2, all future patches and maintenance packs will be applied online, requiring only a brief cutover period to make the new functionality active.

If you have any questions about the new features in Oracle E-Business Suite Applications, Release 12.2, don’t hesitate to contact us via our online form, or call me at +1.650+712.6200.

By John Sasali and Kimberly McDonald Baker

As a follow up to our blog post of February 12, we want to let you know that Oracle has issued a patch to address the bug that affects Billing Extensions in Oracle E-Business Suite Projects applications.

Patch 16313327 has been released by Oracle support in a controlled status for bugs 16313327 and 10208280. Prequisites for applying this patch are as follows:

        Pre-requisite or Co-requisite, which is not included with this patch:
        Ensure to have patches 14477974:R12.PJC.B and 14667319:R12.PJF.B applied.

The following bugs are fixed by this patch:

10208280 – ERROR IN PRC: GENERATE INTERCOMPANY INVOICES FOR A SINGLE PROJECT

16313327 – PAI_ORACLE_ERROR CURSOR=31 CODE=-1458: INVALID LENGTH INSIDE VARIABLE CHARAC

By John Sasali and Kimberly McDonald Baker

We know that many, many users of Oracle Project Billing use Billing Extensions to tailor their invoicing capabilities.  You can learn more about the expanded functionality provided by Extensions in Oracle E-Business Suite Projects by visiting our resource library, where you will find two whitepapers and a presentation.

Therefore, we want to make sure everyone who uses Extensions knows that Oracle patch 13345785:R12.PJ_PF.B causes issues with Billing Extensions.  Oracle describes this patch as PERIODIC RELEASE 6 FOR 12.1.3 ON RELEASE DATE 01-FEB-2013.

This patch for Oracle E-Business Suite Release 12.1.3 causes numerous issues if you use a billing extension that creates automatic class events and you are billing expenditures on the same invoice. If your invoice is only expenditures or only events, however, you should not have any problems. 

Error messages vary but you will find the following in the log.

ORACLE error during DRAFT INVOICE GENERATION (cursor=31 code=-1458: ORA-01458: invalid length inside variable character string
          )
PAI_ORACLE_ERROR

or

ORACLE error during DRAFT INVOICE GENERATION (cursor=32 code=-1722: ORA-01722: invalid number)

Oracle has this listed as as bug 16313327.

 

By Kimberly McDonald Baker

We want to be sure you don’t miss a new case study article featured in the November 2012 issue of Profit Magazine, titled “Unifying Financial and Project Management” In this article you will learn about Colonial Pipeline Company’s integrated Oracle E-Business Suite and Primavera systems, and a few of the benefits that Colonial is receiving.

With the new, integrated Oracle system, Colonial will have all project related financial records and information in one centralized repository. Project managers and the leadership team will be able to view individual projects or overall capital spend easily. With the new system, Colonial expects time spent on monthly status reporting to decrease by 75 percent, from 8,000 to 2,000 project management hours annually.

“This is a paradigm shift of work for our project managers from doing data manipulation to actually being a project manager,” says Phillip Chandler, Financial Controls Administrator at Colonial Pipeline Company. “This allows them to support our customers both internally and externally in a more effective manner.”

Chandler says Project Partners has helped Colonial implement best practices into its processes, making the company more efficient. “The Project Partners team is sensitive to the specific needs of Colonial. At the same time, they are able to present solutions from an outside perspective that we also need to grow as a business,” says Chandler. “Project Partners has provided the expertise and professionalism that we needed for developing and implementing our project.”

You can read the full article here.

By Neeraj Garg

This is the third of three articles discussing new enhancements in Oracle E-Business Suite Projects Applications Release 12.2. In this article we address the third of three key enhancements: Costing Using Payroll Actuals

Costing Using Payroll Actuals

This enhancement enables companies to use actual payroll costs from Oracle Payroll or a third-party payroll system to cost project labor transactions. These actual costs are distributed to the labor transactions on projects using new mapping rules that specify the expenditure type, cost type and distribution rules to be used for this purpose. Figure 1 shows an example of this mapping.

Payroll Actuals Figure 1

Figure 1


 

Drawing on this mapping and the amounts retrieved from the payroll system, the costing process will distribute payroll costs to various labor transactions, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Payroll Actuals Figure 2

Figure 2


 

The resulting distributed costs are shown in Figure 3.

Payroll Actuals Figure 3

Figure 3


 

Users also have the choice of accruing standard labor costs prior to a payroll run in order to report project costs and support billing. When payroll costs are distributed, the accrued costs are automatically reversed. In addition, a new process has been introduced in the solution to support payroll roll-backs needed for error correction. This process will reverse out an existing labor distribution to projects, making all the transactions re-eligible for costing. Then, when the new payroll run is completed, these transactions can be costed with the corrected payroll numbers. This process may also be used to correct errors in the setup of labor costing in Oracle Projects. For example, it can be used to reverse out a standard costing run and replace it with an actual costing run.

As with the Costing Using HR rates method described above, companies implementing this feature need consider the need for labor-cost information security, because actual labor costs may be exposed.

Conclusion

With this recent set of enhancements, Oracle E-Business Suite Projects has evolved into a more complete solution that can be used to address nearly any costing requirements that companies may have. Oracle users can more easily take advantage of various approaches to labor costing, using payroll data, HR rates and total time. These enhancements allow companies to manage and perform costing in ways that fit their specific needs, which in turn helps create a better understanding of project costs and, ultimately, profitability.

If you have questions about the new costing enhancements, the use of costing extensions, or any other issues pertaining to using Oracle Applications in an project-intensive environment, contact us! We are always very happy to help end-users make the best use of the applications that we at Project Partners originally invented.

By Neeraj Garg

Continuing from last week’s blog article, new enhancements in Oracle E-Business Suite Projects Applications Release 12.2 allow companies to address various project costing requirements without the use of extensions. There are three key enhancements:

  1. Total Time Costing
  2. Costing Using HR Rates, and
  3. Costing Using Payroll Actuals.

 

Total Time Costing

This enhancement addresses the need to cost labor transactions using effective rates, and especially to encompass exempt employees who do not get paid for overtime work. Like Standard Costing, this enhancement works with standard rates. However, it computes an effective rate for costing labor transactions based on total time charged for a period and the base hours for that period.

There are three new setup elements that are needed to enable Total Time Costing:

  1. Effective period (typically, this will be “weekly”)
  2. Base hours
  3. Enabling Total Time Accounting – new Costing Method for Labor Costing

With these three elements enabled, the effective rate used for costing labor transactions is now computed using the following three-step formula:

                 I.          Base Hours/Charged Hours * Derived Rate = Effective Rate
                II.          Effective Rate * Charged Hours = Raw Cost (Labor)
               III.          Labor Raw Cost * (1 + Burden Multiplier) = Total Burdened Cost (Labor)

In addition, if Total Time Costing is enabled and a new or adjusted transaction is introduced for a person for a previously costed period, the solution does not re-cost all transactions in that previous period. That is, it leaves them at the old rate rather than applying the new rate that was derived using the new total charged hours.

Overall, this enhancement allows users to accurately cost labor for exempt employees. It also allows organizations to meets federal contracting rules for exempt employees, as spelled out in the DCAA Contract Audit Manual, Section 9.

Costing Using HR Rates

This enhancement enables organizations that hold employee rate information in Oracle HR to directly use these rates for project labor costing. This feature is enabled by setting Rate Source in Oracle Projects to “HR” in the costing rule allocation. Rates are then retrieved from the Oracle HR rate matrix using “Rate by Criteria.”

There are many standard criteria available for setting up matrix rates in Oracle HR. Users can also add custom criteria to the rate matrix; these criteria can even call for rates at the project and task levels, if that degree of granularity is needed. Typically, the most commonly used criteria in a matrix are “job,” “location,” and “work type.” A new Project Timecard Template in Oracle Time and Labor has been seeded with these three attributes.

HR rates may also be enabled for use in planning when companies need to compute labor costs in budgets and forecasts.

This enhancement can also play a role in compliance. For example, many companies will benefit from the fact that it enables support for the Davis-Bacon Act in the U.S., which requires companies to pay minimum prevailing wage rates for construction work done at a given location. Also, because the HR rates used in calculations are the actual rates paid to employees, it is very important that labor-cost information security be carefully considered and implemented prior to enabling this enhancement.

In the next blog article we will discuss Costing using Payroll Actuals.

By Neeraj Garg

Introduction

Oracle E-Business Suite Projects applications have provided Standard Costing for labor transactions for some time. However, other important approaches to costing have not been supported out of the box, such as costing using effective rates, HR rates or payroll actuals. To address these approaches, Oracle Projects provided three client extensions that could be used to replace Oracle’s standard capabilities.

Now, in Oracle Projects Release 12.2, Oracle has provided a number of enhancements that go beyond Standard Costing. These enhancements, which provide more options and greater flexibility, give companies new tools to help ensure that their costing approach fits their business, and gives them a clear view of the labor component of project costs.

The Traditional Approach

The Oracle Projects Standard Costing for labor transactions uses job or employee-based rates defined in Oracle Projects tables. However, this does not meet the specific needs of some companies and situations. For example, it does not support the following.

  • Costing using effective rates: This is typically used to address costing of labor transactions for exempt employees. Under the Standard Costing approach, all hours (including overtime hours) are costed at the standard rate. This may result in the overstatement of project costs, because exempt employees do not get paid extra for overtime work.
  • Costing using HR rates: Standard Costing in Oracle Projects requires users to set up rates by job or by employee with Oracle Projects Rate schedules. If a company is already using Oracle HR and holding employee rate information there, that information cannot be reused in Standard Costing. That is, companies cannot use HR rates directly to cost labor charges to a project.
  • Costing using actual payroll information: The distribution of actual payroll costs to project labor transactions is an industry standard in a variety of industries, such as construction, where companies typically work with small margins. Without this ability, variations between Standard Costing calculations and actual costs may be greater than the profits on projects.

Because such costing requirements could not be met with Standard Costing, Oracle Projects has traditionally provided three Client Extensions that companies could use to address a wider range of needs: These extensions are:

  1. Labor Costing Extension, which can be used to override or replace the costing algorithm provided by Oracle. It essentially allows users to implement any business logic they choose to cost labor transactions.
  2. Labor Overtime Extension, which can be used to determine overtime transactions, and then classify and cost them based on the appropriate overtime rules.
  3. Related Item Extension, which allows users to create separate “related” transactions for different labor-cost components in order to gain visibility for reporting or billing purposes.

Understanding the Enhancements

The new enhancements in Oracle Projects Release 12.2 allow companies to address various costing requirements without the use of these extensions. There are three key enhancements:

  1. Total Time Costing
  2. Costing Using HR Rates, and
  3. Costing Using Payroll Actuals.

These elements are discussed in subsequent blog articles.

By Aijaz Ansari, MBA

Our previous blog entitled, “Oracle R12 Payments Delivers Enterprise Wide Benefits” discussed the retirement of Oracle iPayment. As mentioned in that blog, iPayment is no longer available in Oracle R12. So what has become of the features and functions previously offered by iPayment? Oracle R12 introduces Funds Disbursement Process (FDP) Dashboard as a component of Oracle R12 Payments and to replace iPayments features and functions.

Beginning with the Funds Disbursement Process Home Page, users are presented with a read-only form. This Home Page includes a Pending Actions region which displays the current status of various in-process payment process requests and payment instructions. The Pending Actions region also contains links enabling drill down capability to view details of entries, along with Take Action links. These Take Action Links enable the Payment Administrator to execute the next step in the payment process. Additionally, the Funds Disbursement Process Home Page contains links to other pages which support the overall payment process. Read the rest of this entry »

By Aijaz Ansari, MBA

Oracle Payments is an application within Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS) Release 12. It serves as the funds capture and funds disbursement engine across Oracle EBS R12.

Acting as the central payment engine, Oracle Payments processes transactions, such as:
1. Invoice payments from Oracle Payables
2. Bank account transfers from Oracle Cash Management
3. Settlements against credit cards and bank accounts from Oracle Receivables

Additionally, Oracle Payments provides the infrastructure needed to connect these applications and others with third party payment systems and financial institutions. Read the rest of this entry »