The Oracle/SAP battle is as fierce as ever. Who will emerge victorious.
The SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC) product delivers budgeting, planning, financial consolidation to clients along with adept forecasting capabilities. The inbuilt features let users swiftly adjust plans and forecasts based on real time data. The budgeting process and closing cycles are shortened and take less effort. All this while ensuring compliance and meeting financial reporting standards.
On the other hand Oracle currently markets two different products in the same space - Oracle Hyperion
Financial Management (HFM) to streamline financial consolidation and reporting activities in mid-size
and large organizations and Oracle Hyperion Planning (Planning) to help clients with planning,
budgeting and forecasting capabilities. This allows customers to handpick the features that they want to
The customer for HFM is usually the accounting department and the end users for Hyperion planning is the financial planning and analysis department.
The objective of this article is not to compare the 2 solutions apple to apple. Both have their unique
strengths and are leaders in their own right. This write up aims to highlight some of the salient features of
both applications so that users and clients can make more informed decisions.
SAP BPC is suited for organizations with multiple business units, departments and budgeting needs - complexities that necessitate an equally complex planning and consolidation effort. SAP BPC works better when the foundational transactional system is SAP ECC and the FICO module is running. It works even better if the organization has separateteams with FICO, BPC, ABAP, BW, Basis and SCM expertise.
SAP BPC may be less attractive to organizations that use Agile or SCRUM methodology and are looking for a quick implementation.
- SAP BPC provides real time data that is based on live transactions taking place in the ERP system.
Other legacy systems may require a scheduled job or manual run to push the data into a reporting system. Unlike those BPC provides real time consolidation.
- This is a shared reporting tool and not a standalone system.
- This is a powerful tool designed to help all financial functions of the company, from cash flow
- It holds one source of truth for Plan and Actual. It can support leading ledgers for IFRS
- BPC has inherent ‘Predictive Analytics’ capabilities that pack quite a punch. These help forecast
- BPC makes optimum use of the NetWeaver platform
- The legacy ‘OutlookSoft’ and ‘Cartesis’ tools are included in BPC and users can leverage these to
they allow multi-country reporting.
- BPC provides ease of reporting as it is MS excel based and has in-built integration with MS
- The application can be managed by business users and little technical help is needed after go-live.
with little technical help.
- The tool has inherent advantages when it comes to ease of ‘data write back’.
- Unlike other solutions NO aggregation Calc are needed.
- The workflow feature in BPC includes some Pre-configured business process flows and
- BPC is designed to have, ‘Forward compatibility’ for future versions for SAP. Also the solution
- This tool supports the, ‘Collaborative Forecasting’ approach.
- In BPC audit trails in financial transactions can be easily tracked and this meets the requirements
- It may not be feasible for companies where the planning and budgeting needs keep changing
and difficult to set up a dynamic dashboard in the runtime, for senior executives and other officials of CxO.
It's true that with BPC in its arsenal SAP has a robust financial planning strategy, because it has now
integrated planning as function into S/4HANA. This in turn means that users can perform detailed real
time planning based on data at the lowest granular level of aggregation. This makes it redundant to further
develop a separate planning solution as a part of the ERP environment. However, if you're not running
SAP Business Suite or S/4HANA, then the vendor selection for a planning solution is definitely more
layered and needs closer attention.
Oracle is the #4 business software vendor in the world, 3 notches ahead of SAP, and has a broad client
base with thousands of customers.
Hyperion is Oracle’s flagship financial planning software. Hyperion HFM/Planning is strategic to Oracle and the company is invested in this product suite long term.
It is an important component of Oracle’s Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) architecture
that allows clients to manage their finances better by being more efficient, agile and aligned
with their strategic goals.
HFM is one of the central tools in the modular suite of enterprise performance management applications
that provide support for strategic, financial, and operational management processes. It is a comprehensive,
shared web based application that provides complete global financial consolidation features, along with
analysis and reporting, all in a scalable, robust software solution. HFM allows multiple transactional
currencies and provide easy intercompany transactions. The tool provides graphical drag-and-drop
features that can be used for administration of the chart of accounts, dimensional hierarchies, and
implementing business rules.
Hyperion Planning often implemented in conjunction with HFM or as a standalone system, provides a
centralized web based solution that includes an Excel interface for easy budgeting and forecasting
activities. Hyperion Planning is built upon powerful Essbase OLAP (Online Analytical Processing)
engine that allows for slicing and dicing of data for quick analysis. Planning also comes with its own
powerful calculation engine like HFM and dynamic and flexible reporting capabilities. Hyperion Planning
also provides a powerful workflow system that includes email notifications alerts, and task list to more
effectively track the budget process. While HFM has its own cult following, Planning remains the front
runner for Oracle in terms of strategic investment and product development and for being the cash cow
for Oracle in the EPM product space. Oracle’s strategic move to cloud versions of these different EPM
products has spearheaded the consolidation of the two products into similar looking interface and back
ends while trying to keep the unique features of each product at the same time.
HFM and Planning can be used independently to address specific requirements, but together they support
an end-to-end, closed-loop enterprise performance management process. Both Hyperion products integrate
source information from multiple transaction systems like: Oracle, SAP, Excel/Office, Data Warehouse, etc.
Both products allow for reporting in different formats based on customer preferences - Smart view with
Microsoft Office integration for more financial analysts’ positions, Financial reporting for print perfect reports for report books and OBIEE with dashboard capabilities for more executive positions.
More often than not, customers implement HFM and planning as separate phases since the customers for
each of the product is different - HFM mainly used by accounting folks vs planning used mainly by the
financial planning department in an organization. While HFM follows certain guidelines and principles
which are important for a proper financial close process as per the GAAP standards, planning allows to
build organization specific models for planning and forecasting to better analyze a specific business future
state. Recently implemented driver based rolling forecast model at a top healthcare cancer institute is a
great example of the flexibility and width of businesses that Oracle Hyperion planning deals with.
- As different products HFM and Hyperion Planning allows customers the flexibility to choose
- Oracle HFM meets multiple accounting standards simultaneously, i.e., generally accepted
that most FP&A users are familiar with.
- The option of Smart View enables spreadsheet reporting, offline planning, and report display in
transactions. HFM is specifically built to integrate financial and operating results and designed to
manage the finer details driven by operational analysis.
- Oracle HFM and Hyperion Planning are designed for the Web, so end users can easily input and
location. All they need is a standard supported version of the Web browser like IE, Firefox, and
- The reporting tools included in the Oracle HFM solution are built with the Finance team in mind
required. Hyperion planning on the other hand comes in two flavors - Pre-built modules which
are faster and more efficient to implement and base planning which allows to implement flexible
and customized solutions.
- Clients achieve gains in efficiency as they are able to regularly close systems that feed into
to reconcile intercompany balances frequently, rather than waiting until the financial quarter’s
- One of its kind architecture designs like ‘Rolling forecast’ add value to verticals like Healthcare.
- The underlying multiple dimension functionality in Oracle HFM has helped numerous
Standards (IFRS) smoothly. This concept of multi-dimensionality allows financial planning and
forecasting based on different business requirements.
- HFM provides integrated financial reporting with planning, features like balanced scorecards and
business processes to incorporate financial information for continuous performance management
- Full integration with MS Office possible.
- Offline planning mode is an option.
- Distributed admin functions are available via a full equipped web interface
- BI+ provides a self-service reporting platform and executive dashboard.
- Oracle HFM/Planning users generally follow business processes that could involve stepping out
financial data from Hyperion into email, or MS Excel, or human hands back and forth. This
always poses the risk of data security breach or discrepancies creeping in.
As competitors both SAP BPC and Oracle Hyperion do reasonably well and add value to each other’s
evolution cycles. Hyperion and BPC are #1 or #2 in the market, depending on how you perceive the
product functionality, client base and sales volume. The authors have worked on both applications in
their course of career and wanted to share their insights.