To DFF or not DFF?

Oracle Financials descriptive flex-fields reasons why and reasons why not.

I have not seen or heard much about descriptive flex-fields in a while so here is a quickie about the use of custom fields in Oracle Financials.

As a pre-cursor to this quickie I will mention that the same functionality is available in fusion financials but in fusion, there are some other aspects to consider for example ADF which I will not cover in this article. 

All ERP systems have the facility to enhance the user experience and deliver a solution using a custom field. In Oracle, this is no different and the use of custom fields is common.

In my experience, we talk about custom fields often at the beginning of an implementation and this conversation is often left as with the “Oh well if we cannot find a solution then we can always use a DFF” answer. 

I guess is true but not always the case so unless you do some research you may well find that a DFF is not the answer. 

In addition to implantation scenarios an existing user of Oracle may want to enhance the current system to provide for a new requirement or for an interim workaround or just to enhance the current ERP system. In all these cases, a DFF may provide an excellent solution. 

Existing Oracle users will be aware of key-flex fields for example the general ledger account flex or fixed asset category flex but may have forgotten about the ability to build a custom field called descriptive flex-field to hold additional data in your application.

The question about whether to use a DFF or not can be a tricky one and often there is already existing fields or functionality that will provide the solution so this needs to be established before requesting a DFF to be created.

There are many other questions to be asked for example what are the amount of system changes that may affect the DFF and not just the patches that are released to resolve issues but the organisation led changes to your systems. Question Your reporting requirements before creating and please look at the ETRL for your release of Oracle which will help you to understand the module integrations. Understand what might require regression testing after the DFF is live.

Question the effect on the database will the DFF require use of custom tables or affect processing or user access?

Now to a brief recap about the basics about DFF’s in case you have forgotten about them.

The custom field “DFF” is configured in the application set up and registered in the database. I will not go into detail as many good examples of the steps required to complete this exists out there on the internet and in the Oracle documentation. 

The custom field is placed in a form in the application and is used to provide additional data you require for example identify a transaction and/or report on specific data either external data or data held somewhere else in the application. 

The DFF is used where a form in the application does not contain the information that your organisation requires in that view.

The following characterises apply to DFF’s 

·         You can set it to be context sensitive i.e. a list of values or so data appears when certain information is entered but not on other occasions.

·         Existing value sets may be used, those value sets may be securitized, those value sets may have cross-validation rules already applied to them.

·         New value sets can be created for use with your DFF be careful when doing this.

·         Use of the DFF could be mandatory or optional.

·         Access can be set at a responsibility level so use could be restricted to an individual user, to a specific role or for all users.

·         You may need to use with a custom code that you develop for the solution to work in a specific way.

·         You may want to use it in some of the reports that your business intelligence tools produce. 

Research. Some questions you may want to ask? 

Do you know how many DFFs your application holds are any of these in custom tables?

Which modules make the most use of DFFs in your organisation?

Who will need access to the DFF to update, report or view?

Have you the resources to test a new DFF and train your users?

Who will maintain the DFF? 

In my experience do DFF but think carefully about whether it is really needed, document the DFF, Understand the DFFs and always test the DFF. 

Involve your team, ask your DBA for help and advice, speak to your support people and enjoy your DFF.

Standard Oracle System Reports and R12 Financials ERR!

As discussions about the future of Oracle Discover continue and organisations map their future needs into business analytic tools.

I decided to refresh on Oracle Standard Reports.

Not so exiting a subject but I thought I could do with a refresh and not having been hands on for some time took the opportunity to brush up.

Some new features in R12.2 like improved features in the reporting manager help.

Information discovery dashboards (Endeca) integrated with Oracle Financials modules now exist.

The need for valuable information is not just restricted to information about performance.

I decided to gem up about what standard reports are available for the E-Business Suite Financial Modules.

Many of the standard reports are used or are the basis for reconciliation as opposed to use as an insightful view of data and transactions.

Then I remembered what about error reports quite useful if there is an issue that needs resolving urgently.

ERR! You might think but anyway here is my list that I have found useful in identifying and resolving issues.


Module Report
General ledger for cash management


Account Analysis Report for the General Ledger Cash Account
Cash Management Auto-Reconciliation Execution Report
General Ledger, Sub-Ledgers and Fixed Assets Sub ledger Period Close Exceptions Report
Accounts payable Invoice on Hold Report
Account payable Unaccounted Transactions Report
Accounts payable Void Payment Register
Accounts payable (control accounts)


Transaction Exception Details
Projects for assets


Interface Assets Exceptions
Fixed Assets Assets Not Assigned to Any Cost Centers Listing


NB- There are also enhancements in R12.2. to Receivables and E-Business Tax modules.

I am not sure if any error reports exist for receivables or E-Business Tax? More brushing up to do!

Not totally financial but I will get to that later

Due to bad weather and a faulty car, I missed the Oracle Financials Sig event in February. Never mind the documents are online at UKOUG and I have been having a browse.

The presentation from Oracle about private and hybrid cloud security caught my eye.

Apart from presenting details on the Oracle Identity Access Management product, which can be found at it went further to give detail about other aspects of IT security.
Two new initiatives are on the radar for 2016.

The EU Cyber Security Initiative affecting many industries has been approved to become a directive this year 2016 and a new EU directive on privacy laws comes into effect.

The fact sheet gives more detail about privacy laws affecting the EU and US and the fact sheet explains a bit more about cyber security but essentially the new rules on Cyber Security will affect a number of industries and aim to:

 improve cybersecurity capabilities in Member States
 improve Member States’ cooperation on cybersecurity
 require operators of essential services in the energy, transport, banking and healthcare sectors, and providers of key digital services like search engines and cloud computing, to take appropriate security measures and report incidents to the national authorities.

If you already know this great but even if your organisation is not directly affected you should be aware.

In reality, most risk to IT systems comes through problems with hardware/software failures and not with hackers; you can take measures to secure your systems. Audit and documentation your systems to identify risks, have a security incident plan, Involve your executive management are some of these.

To go back to the presentation it reminds us again that the areas organisations need to be aware and review are:
• Access Management
• Identity Governance
• Data Security
• Network Security

Back to reading with interest the other presentations which are mostly financial.

Group depreciation in Oracle Financials EBS

This feature in Oracle Fixed Assets allows you to set up a group of assets. Why would you want to use this feature? In many countries regulations in certain industries like oil & gas, telecom and utilities require tax and compliance reporting require this. These corporations hold large volumes of assets and group depreciation allows for these assets to be held together for ease of reporting.

Where Group Depreciation is used and assets are held at group level then there are a number of restriction on performing other asset functionality and data-migration.

Examples of some functionality that cannot be used on group assets-

  • Bonus Depreciation
  • Tax Reserve Adjustment:
  • Group retirement adjustment
  • Mass Depreciation Adjustment
  • Physical Inventory
  • Revaluation

What happens if reporting is required to show component assets and associated depreciation for each individual member assets?

One option may be to set the tracking method to calculate the member asset amount option, this will calculate depreciation on each member asset. This can only be performed when the asset is added so this option cannot be applied to legacy assets.

Another option might be to disable the group asset the problem with doing this is that the assets in the group must  be either retired or reclassified prior to being disabled.

For these industries there is no easy work around if complying with International Financial Standards and holding assets in Oracle Financials at a group level.

It will be interesting to see how these organisations meet the new reporting standards in particular component asset lives and revaluations.

Upgrade to Oracle R12 EBS Tax and three key points: Location, Location, and Location!

Upgrade to Oracle R12 EBS Tax and three key points: Location, Location, and Location!

Location flex-field and geography hierarchy

In Oracle Financials R12, the R11i tax location flex-field is replace by geography hierarchy which is held in the Trading Community Architecture (TCA).Before the upgrade the geography and tax validation must be reviewed and may need to be configured to meet your current needs.

Location based tax rates and Jurisdiction

In an R12 upgrade, the tax locations of the records are upgraded, and each one is associated with a tax rate. Jurisdictions are associated to tax rates. Jurisdictions are geography records that tie back to locations in the Trading Community Architecture (TCA).

Tax Group and Tax Regime

After upgrade, this will be set as Standard Tax Classification Code (STCC). Tax codes that are historically part of a tax group will upgrade and create the direct tax determination rate in R12.Either the STCC or the STCC and the direct rate rule which is created in the upgrade from the will be applied against events to calculate the tax. The country of the operating unit and the tax type will determine in R12 EBS Tax what Tax Regime code is held in the upgraded system.


Oracle Sub-Ledger Accounting a snip it on using SLAM with secondary ledgers

Additional SLAM set ups for use with secondary ledgers

The conversion can be performed at the following levels


  • Sub-ledger Level Secondary Ledgers
  • Journal Level Secondary Ledgers
  • Balance Level Secondary Ledgers
  • Adjustments Only Secondary Ledger

It is a prerequisite to create a chart of account mapping if the secondary ledger uses a different chart of accounts.

The accounting set up below is an example suitable for scenario 1 solution (a) in this example a French subsidiary is consolidated into the

US Parent.

Navigate to accounting set up in Oracle>



Primary Ledger French Operations Secondary ledger US Statutory
Chart of accounts Corporate Chart of accounts US  GAAP
Accounting calendar


Monthly Accounting calendar Fiscal
Currency Euro Currency USD
Sub-ledger accounting method Standard accrual Sub-ledger accounting method USGAAP
Data conversion level Journal
Disable conversion date 01-Feb-2013



Chart of accounts mapping 

Corporate to Statutory mapping




Currency conversion rules

Source representation                                                            Source representation French operations
Default rate types Corporate
Retain transaction rate type Yes

Error Handling

If missing conversion rate                                   o report error

* Use last rate

Number of days to find last rate           15


Journal conversion Rules

Post journal automatically from source ledger     o

Retain journal creator from source ledger           no

Not very topical but who knows – Inflation accounting for fixed assets

Example of Modified historic Cost Scenarios to be applied to Pre-UAT test environment


Scenarios will be run over a period of three year ends to allow a “YO”- “YO” index to be applied and the full results of the accounting effect of IAS16/FRS15/FREM 6.2.5 when fully applied where losses on revaluation should be debited to the relevant reserve (see above) to the extent that gains have been recorded previously, and otherwise to the operating cost.


Indexed Revaluation

Index no List of Indexes Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
1 YO-YO 110 90 120
2 Rising-Rising-Rising 105 110 120
3 Falling-Falling-Falling 95 90 85
4 Rising-Falling-Falling 120 110 95


Asset Category used for Revaluations Plant & Equipment



Index revaluation using the above indexes applied to a number of sub-categories of Plant & Equipment applied to a number of Assets


Additional Category for Professional revaluation on an Asset in the Category Buildings


  • Year 1,2, 3 indexed revaluation of a number of assets added in the prior year applying index 1,2,3,&4 Assets to show all accounting including backlog 4 Assets
  • Year 2 Professional revaluation for 2 Asset in 2 categories to show after indexed revaluation and before indexed
  • Year 2 applying index 2 to a disposal to show that Revaluation reserve retired 1 Asset
  • Year 2  applying index 2 cost adjustment to show revaluation on adjusted cost  Asset
  • Year 2 applying index 2 revaluation on a re-classed asset to show use of relevant index for new category applied to asset 1 Asset
  • Year 2 applying index 4 addition to show revaluation for in year addition 1 Asset
  • Year 3 applying index 2 re-life to show revaluation change to depreciation on 2 re-life Asset  (1) reduce life (2) extend life
  • Year 3 select assets to remove from Indexed revaluation 2 Assets


Total number of Assets tested = 14

Expected results will be held in a separate spreadsheet and show the revaluation for each asset for each of the 3 years


Reports – Testing of all Oracle IAC reports


Problems with the technical aspects of transaction processing?

Have you ever had a conversation about transaction processing and thought what about the technical aspects.In fact having recently had that conversation and I came of the phone thinking where would I go to first?

I found this resource for Oracle EBS which may come in usefull when thinking about transaction processing and the Oracle technology stack link to it from twitter.

Applying creative thinking and problem solving to your Business and Finance Systems Equals Success

Applying creative thinking and problem solving to your business and finance Systems Equals Success

This is what I Bring to Your Organisation
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You tell me what to deliver
• Review scope and help with planning
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This is how I work with you
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Contact Michele Bryant for a free and informal meeting or discussion.