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Converting Your Reporting to Oracle BI Publisher

We’re seeing this more and more: as Oracle’s OBIEE platform gains steam, many organizations are making the move to convert existing reports from Crystal, Actuate or Oracle Reports to BI Publisher. Report conversion can be a daunting task, not necessarily from the technology move, but moreso from simply understanding, cataloging and consolidating the current collection of reports.  Over time, many reports are modified, added, and personalized, and it is very easy to lose track of what you have — and more importantly, what is valuable.

Oracle has a very good white paper which provides all sorts of great information regarding the conversion process.  Probably not unlike you, when I need to know something that I don’t necessarily have experience with, I often look to white papers and red papers to give me that initial push — and often I am disappointed.  I need to know a strategy, I need to know what type of skills I need and how much effort it will take. In so many cases, this information is what is most obviously missing.  Well, this white paper outlines a strategy, outlines key considerations, provides several company examples and outlines the resources that are required for success. I highly recommend it to all of my clients. Entitled Planning to Covert to BI Publisher, you can check it out here (PDF link; you’ll need your Oracle login and password).

Here are few of the key elements I took away from the white paper:

  1.  Prior to any report conversion activity, you must evaluate your current catalog of reports.  Determine what reports are being used, what reports are important and what reports should be carried over.  Don’t forget to evaluate the new technology and capabilities of Oracle BI Publisher.  Old technologies may propagate the need for multiple reports because of only slight variations in requirements.  There is an opportunity to reduce the overall number of reports simply based upon the capabilities of BI Publisher.  Also, challenge the end users on the needs of the reports.  If a report has not been run in a long time, is it really necessary?  Remember, end users can also create their own reports which may impact how many reports must be converted.
  2. You can categorize reports:
      • By data
      • By complexity
      • By size
  3. Understand that there are conversion tools to help with the move to BI publisher.  Certainly manual conversion is an option, but if any time can be saved with the conversion tools, that option should be explored.  I have not used these conversion tools so I do not have direct experience as to how well they work if they convert 100% or 50%. I would recommend you take a sample of low, medium and high complexity reports and evaluate the success rate of the conversion tools when determining your approach. If you do this, I’d be interested in your results. Drop me an email.
  4. The white paper provides some customer examples and general rules of thumb on the level of effort.  From the white paper: “A general thumb rule would be 3 man days for manually converting a simple to medium complex report and 5 man days for converting a highly complex report. The time taken will reduce over a period of time with experience in conversion. Using the Conversion Tools, the conversion time would be reduced tremendously and may require few hours to 1 man day for converting a simple to medium complex report. For converting a medium to highly complex report, the effort may vary between 2 – 3 days. The time taken will reduce over a period of time with experience in conversion.”
Report conversion is often a daunting task that prevents organizations from moving to a more integrated/streamlined reporting option from what they are using now. That doesn’t have to be the case. If you want to explore this option more — or even just pick my brain about it — I’m always happy to chat. Let me know.

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