Oracle E- Business Suite is an integrated ERP solution, with multiple modules and workflow processes. Each of the workflow processes makes it cumbersome and the business managers need to, constantly, allocate a time for clearing and approving the backlogs. They, also, need to visit the Oracle EBS workflow notifications page, which is not so organized with a list of all ‘To do Items’ and ‘Backlogs’. This is when a Mobile solution, which helps the managers to take decisions while on the move, from anywhere, anytime, becomes handy.
How to make Oracle EBS Approvals more Efficient?
Approvals can be made efficient; by enabling the right features, integration and security in the app, and choosing the right device platform for building the app.
Features & Functionality
Some of the features include:
- Customizations: “One size does not fit all”, this is a statement which is said time and again. Any standard Oracle EBS approval solutions will fail to achieve the full purpose unless it allows some level of customizations to include the requirements of the organizations. Whether it is the color theme or the data content, the mobile application should be able to incorporate additional features and custom requirements.
- Unified Mobile Approvals: The ‘approval application’ should be a single consolidated application, which will have approvals for all major modules like Purchase, Order Management, Absence (Leave), Invoice, Time Card Approvals etc. It becomes easy for the business managers to approve all the categories of action items, without having to switch between multiple approval applications.
- Dashboards: It will, always, be helpful for the managers to have an approval dashboard which provides them with quick summary of the action items. This can be the categorization of various approval items like Purchase Requisition Approval or Invoice Approval. Also, it should have proper “badges” to denote the number of pending items under each category. A simple analytics for the number of days since last request, department with highest leave request, longest pending days etc., can be a value addition.
- Push Notifications: This is one feature that all managers would like to have. Receiving alerts, in order to get the information that they have got a new approval request from an employee, eliminates the need for the manger to visit and check his mobile approval queue, time and again.
- Forwarding and Delegation : If the managers can forward the approval requests to another person, from the mobile, or delegate someone to approve on his behalf, then it shall be one of the most effective features in the mobile approvals.
- Attachments: The Approval mobile application should support basic upload and download of documents. This can be a medical report or restaurant voucher or any document that will substantiate the approval request that is submitted.
- Details: The approval action items should display sufficient details for approval in an efficient manner. It should have the Action History, Request information and a details page which will help managers to take quick actions, thus support faster decision making.
Integration Technology and Security Mechanisms
There will be ‘pre-built’ connectors for various workflow modules and these connectors are the integration layers between the mobile application and Oracle EBS. The most important capability that Oracle Mobile approvals should have is to cushion-off the changes made in the workflow, with respect to change in Approval Hierarchy and Approval Limits. It means when an authorized personnel is changed in the organization, the change made in the hierarchy in Oracle EBS Workflow system should get reflected, without causing any change in the mobile application. Therefore, the Approval Connectors should support this logic.
The APIs can be created by deploying the PL/SQL packages on the Integrated SOA Gateway (Integration repository) which will expose the web service connectors. The web service communication can occur through the Oracle Fusion Middleware components (BPEL / OSB) where the workflow web services are orchestrated and mediated. The Oracle Apps Adapter will provide integration between Oracle FMW and EBS. Oracle Webservice Manager (OWSM) is used for authenticating the web service calls. Security is achieved by securing the communications using SSL encryption. An optional security can be provided by using Oracle Identity Manager (OIM).
BPEL – Business Process Execution Language, OSB – Oracle Service Bus, OIM – Oracle Identity Manager, OWSM – Oracle Web Service Manager, DMZ – Demilitarized Zone, EBS – E Business Suite
Mobile Application Technology and Device Platforms
This is the age of BYOD and any Oracle EBS app should work on certain range of devices, irrespective of the Operating system. The approval app can be developed on Native iOS or Android technology for rich UI features, but will involve larger development cost. Or, it can be developed using Oracle’s own strategic mobile application development tool “Mobile Application Framework”. This will ensure single build, which will run on wide range of iOS and Android phones, as well as show quicker development.
What are your thoughts on this? As an user, do share your experience implementing Oracle EBS Mobile approval applications.
Product Manager & Consultant – Enterprise Mobility, RapidValue Solutions