Let’s not forget that it also sent Natalie’s kids to college

We (your EPM Conversations hosts) owe a lot – a financial kind of debt as well as a professional one – to Shankar and Hyperion/Oracle on premises /PBCS/EPBCS/EPM Cloud Planning. Seriously, I first set eyes on what was then Hyperion Planning Desktop (which alas I cannot find a screenshot of but know it’s out there somewhere), I thought, “Cameron, you idiot, this is the future” and so it has been through (gulp) decades of work. Never, our Performance Management audience, look askance at a sure thing.

Part of that product’s success has been Shankar Viswanathan’s careful stewardship of a product that grew from an application wrapper around Essbase (and a horrific and quickly abandoned Win32 app that was supposed to be the workspace of users of All Things Hyperion and yes, Shankar, I really do hope you didn’t create that) to a complete EPM cloud platform. At its core, planning and budgeting hasn’t at it’s core really changed all that much (ZBB came and went, driver based planning is still here, and yes AI/ML now has its turn in the Wheel of Planning Fortune) but what we still call Planning certainly has. Of course Shankar didn’t write each line of code nor did he define and design every bit and bob of UI, but it’s easy to see his steady hand in Planning’s evolution through the lens of customer success.


Each and every one of EPM Conversations’ guests is a joy for they are enthusiastic, open, thoughtful, visionary, and just about everything one might hope for in a colleague and a friend. Shankar is all of things and yet he is different.

By that I mean Shankar is quiet in the physical sense. We struggled with Shankar’s voice until we (we = Celvin) realized that is simply how Shankar talks; he is well worth listening to and the volume button on your phone isn’t that hard to use. Sometimes how we think is reflected in how we speak: introspection, consideration, reasoning, and sensitivity don’t need to be shouted to be understood. Shankar is well worth a listen.

Maybe the most interesting part

All of what I wrote about Shankar’s professional interests hold true for his personal ones.

There’s a wide range in all three areas of historical men, literature, and movies: E.O. Wilson, , Gandhi, and Steve Jobs for the historical figures, in reading, Ayn Rand as a teenager, to E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful, John Kenneth Galbraith’s The Anatomy of Power, and Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics, and finally a varied palette of movies in Shawshank Redemption, The Bang Bang Club, and Heat.

This is, in case you’ve not been able to tell, one of my favorite episodes.

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Yr. Obt. Svt. finds broad cultural movements to be interesting both conceptually (what are they, why do they exist, how did they start, and the rest of the who, when, and where list) and in practice because of their broad outcomes and impact on individuals.

My inveterate curiosity aside, women in STEM (STEAM) has been a current in social and professional change for roughly the past decade. Various organizations and companies, e.g., ODTUG, PwC, OneStream, Oracle, and many others, have been active advocates of this program

In many (most, really) respects, EPM Conversations is a series of, um, conversations with the leading lights in our Performance Management (and others) community and we have been blessed with a truly eclectic and interesting set of guests.

EPM Conversations has a started a new series in that vein – Portraits in Leadership: Women in EPM. Our first guest is Minie Parikh.

She is a true renaissance woman: driven, smart, far sighted, artistic, perceptive, altruistic, warm, positive, and more and oh yeah, right in the thick of EPM with her firm, EPMI.

Minie’s story is inspiring: a first generation American who rejected her expected professional path and instead became a Big4 consultant, cofounded a boutique consultancy (EPMI), is a guest on this podcast (ahem, that’s only kind of a joke, one that is quite firmly tongue in cheek, but it is quite hard to pique our collective interest and oh by the way, she too has a podcast), while leading through active participation and by example in WIT. If that isn’t leadership, I don’t know what is.

And lest you become overwhelmed by all of this, there is of course that human story, and it’s kind of out there.

Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like an SmartView query

With the most profuse apologies possible to Old Blue Eyes and Sammy Khan, love and marriage and Excel and Smartview and Essbase rarely, and I do mean just about never except maybe this one and only time, come together and yet in Minie’s case, it most absolutely did because she met her husband, Nihar Parikh in a bar where they bonded over their mutual love of SmartView. It is totally geeky cool and very sweet. Never say there’s nothing new under the Sun.

The first of many

Fingers crossed, our new series finds favor with you, Gentle Listener. One of the great things about this podcast is the ability to quickly jump from one theme to another. As this section header notes, Minie is not the last.

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Our guests, conferences, and we’re much the same but really quite different

The second in EPM Conversations’ Culture Clash series features two guests from Latin America: David Blanco and Belen Ortiz. I know both from conferences only. Actually, all of my cohosts and all of our guests are, one way or another, part of EPM Conversations (and my life as well) because of conferences. OneStream’s Splash is coming up in just over a week, 17 to 20 April, ODTUG’s Kscope is happening in Aurora, CO, 25 through 29 June. If you work in either (or both) of these technology stacks, I encourage you to attend the conferences. The sessions are key to our professional development; the networking is as well, cf. this podcast’s existence.

Is perception reality? Let’s hope not. But maybe it is.

This series has been from the perspective of North Americans (well, USAians) who try to understand our comrades in arms across the world. What we (and by we I mean your hosts and of course you, our audience) learn is always interesting. Sometimes the lessons are surprising.

How do guests who hailed from Mexico and Argentina and now live in Canada and the US of A, respectively, originally perceive those of us in the Land of the Free?

How we USAians see ourselves

How (apparently) Latin America sees us


What we (your EPM Conversations hosts) probably are

It turns out that The Simpsons are wildly popular in Latin America. From Mexico (geographically North American but culturally part of Latin America) to Argentina (Latin America yes, but oriented towards Europe), The Simpsons are a prime American cultural export.

Color me a bright pink for I am blushing. A lot. How mortifying: what is possibly the most moronic television family in the US (stiff competition there) is how much of the world sees us. At least it’s with amusement. And at least they don’t equate us with Family Guy.

My personal embarrassment aside (Yr. Obt. Svt. is the only host native-born, so my humiliation is greater than Celvin’s and Tim’s), it was hugely entertaining to hear how the show is a window into my homeland. I note that despite watching The Simpsons both Belen (California) and David (uh oh, he lives in Canada, so perhaps …) speak warmly of the United States.

Back to our guests

David has been in the field roughly as long as I have. It’s always a pleasant trip to the past when I hear that someone worked for Comshare, the granddaddy of all Performance Management firms. I can’t remember if he started with Essbase or went back even further to System W (2,048 members per cube in total on a gigantic IBM 3084-Q64 System 360 MVS/TSO mainframe).

Belen started out in computer security and serendipitously ended up in the Performance Management space. Anti-virus expert to Essbase to all-rounder in EPM is quite the trip. It was also interesting to hear about the Argentine approach to software licensing and IT good practices. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Their show is witty, warm, and interesting by turns. We your hosts, and you Dear Listener, are lucky to have them as comrades in arms in our Performance Management world.

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Culture Clash Series

The performance management world is broad.  Those who practice within it are wide in skills, dispersed in geography, deep in talent, and – in general – all jumbled together. 

Your hosts are all North Americans (Canadians and Mexicans rejoice for this American has finally figured out how not to use “America” as shorthand for that quarter-or-so of the globe above the equator and a bit west of the Greenwich meridian) but hail from three different continents.  Beyond the differences in our personalities, it’s easy to see your hosts’ cultural influences in this podcast:  British diffidence, Indian thoughtfulness, American brashness.  Stereotypes and certainly wide brushed, but where your hosts’ formative years were spent marked us.  With luck, it makes for an in interesting podcast.

In that vein, we thought it would be interesting to talk to our fellow North American performance management practitioners who work and live here today but come from elsewhere.  Our audience is primarily from that quarter of the globe mentioned above; we are not perhaps the most introspective people and might be improved if we were so.  An outsider sees the quirks and foibles that a native cannot.  This episode begins a series on work culture – not Culture Wars – from the perspective of those who have worked professionally here and elsewhere.

Our Very Special Guests

I’ve known Ludovic for seemingly forever:  in Oracle-land as a webinar copresenter on ASO Planning and as an employee at OneStream.  Poor guy, he can’t seem to shake me.

I met Pascal on the drive back to the airport from a OneStream Services meeting, packed like a sardine in a rental car.  I remember thinking, “I am the only one out of seven in this car that was actually born in the United States.”  Perhaps a portent of this series?  It did set me to thinking, so maybe.

246 Varieties of Cheese*

Beyond knowing Ludovic and Pascal, there is the role of France in North America:  Quebec, the Marquis of Layfette, the Louisiana Purchase, the French Emperor of Mexico (yes, really) whose imposed rule by Napoleon III (no, that one, the other one but still a Napoleon) triggered the Battle of Camarón (yes, also named the Battle of Cameron, really) and the cherished artefect of legionnaire Jean Danjou’s wooden hand.  Yes, really.  How could we not have France as our first Culture Clash?

The conversation is wide ranging, informative, funny, historical (you’ve already started to get this Francophile’s taste for great French statesmen) and philosophical (yes, really, Frenchmen discussing their favorite philosophers just as one might expect).  We thoroughly enjoyed it and think you will too.

Hear the conversation

We hope you like the episode as much as we do. If you do enjoy it, please give us a good rating on the provider of your choice as it both bathes our ever-needy egos and also – and rather more importantly – allows listeners just like you to more easily find EPM Conversations.

Join us, won’t you?

Join us, won’t you?

*OMG, before you all lose your minds, the (2nd) greatest Frenchman of them all said that about governing his country.

Sree Menon, The Calc Man

Many years ago (just over 10!), Yr. Obt. Svt. wrote a blog post on why he Hated and Loved Calculation Manager. I even did it twice. I am – oft times, still, it continues unabated – a complete smartass who pays little heed to what he says and writes and this was most definitely one of those times. These posts were a continuation of not altogether terrifically awesome judgement as they were an expansion of a similarly-snarky two parter on Hyperion Business Rules. 2009? 2012? My, but the time does fly.

So that’s four snide technical blog posts on two closely related Oracle products. As is typical and as has been noted, I performed zero thought on any potential consequences that might arise from click-bait (was that even a term in 2009?) titles: Oracle could have gotten annoyed and come down on my head with a bag of hammers or they could have ignored it and hoped that no one read my posts or they could have read it, realized that (somehow) there was a little value in it and reached out to me so that in future my posts on this subject weren’t complete and unmitigated garbage were improved in their content, focus, and quality.. The latter is exactly what happened and it did so in the person of Sree Menon, the EPM Calculation Manager Development Manager, aka Calc Man.

No one at Oracle had ever spoken to me outside of Kscope; certainly no one on the development side of the house (I believe that at the time Sree was both Product and Development Manager of Calculation Manager although my memory is fuzzy on this) had ever interacted with me in any form. Sree was helpful, open, and friendly. He wanted Oracle’s tools to be better used, he wanted me to better understand it, and he surely wanted me to write better blog posts. All three occurred, and they occurred because of Sree’s thoughtful approach, despite my artless approach to all things Calculation Manager. Yes, I am a huge fan.

And I think you will be as well as you listen to Sree’s episode. His professional journey has taken a few twists and turns that you may be familiar with (Have you ever wondered who wrote Essbase Application Manager? Wonder no more.) and you’ll get a true developer’s perspective on what it takes to make the Performance Management tools we use.

Hear the conversation

We hope you like the episode as much as we do. If you do enjoy it, please give us a good rating on the provider of your choice as it both bathes our ever-needy egos and also – and rather more importantly – allows listeners just like you to more easily find EPM Conversations.

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Natalie Delemar and I – as with so many others in the performance management space – first met Elizabeth Ferrell at a conference, in this case ODTUG’s Kscope.

Elizabeth’s path to her current job, focus, and professional interests evinces the typical path from school, to finance, not-at-all-usual hobby, and now to our beloved performance management community.

But to characterize Elizabeth as typical is to do her an injustice or perhaps just inaccuracy on Yr. Obt. Svt.’s part. As evidence of that (beyond of course this EPM Conversation episode) is to have a read of Elizabeth’s thoughtful article on the state of your – ours – work satisfaction and what we do with that.

Her episode is just as thoughtful.

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Intro and outro, part 2

Short and sweet? Yep, that’s the way it is on the ever-busy www.epmconversations.com. Let us give thanks. That’s okey, ‘cos we’re going to let the conversation speak for itself.

This is the second and (alas) last episode with our very special guest, Natalie Delemar. Here’s the agenda:

  • 00:45 – 06:40 The Changing State of the EPM (Vendor) Market
  • 06:40 – 17:20 What’s the technical profile of people getting into the various EPM tools now? Developers, Administrators and Groovy.
  • 17:20 – 22:32 Why has Oracle incorporated so much customisability via Groovy? History of Groovy in Oracle EPM.
  • 22:32 – 34:25 How long will Essbase stay the Engine for Oracle Planning?
  • 34:25 – 40:26 ODTUG Board Experience and Growth from the Professional Community
  • 40:26 – End Summary / Conclusion

It’s all Good Stuff.

We hope you like the episode as much as we do. If you do enjoy it, please give us a good rating on the provider of your choice as it both bathes our ever-needy egos and also – and rather more importantly – allows listeners to more easily find us.

As always, you can listen on 

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Intro and outro

For once your author aka Yr. Obt. Svt. is keeping it short and sweet. Enjoy it, as its brevity may be akin to Halley’s Comet and happen again in 2061.

Natalie Delemar, Essbase Lady, Madame President (emerita) of ODTUG, dynamic personality, and friend to all of us in the EPM space (but especially to me), is our guest. There was so much history, so much interest, so much conversation that we simply couldn’t do it all in one episode. Also, one wonders if a two hour podcast would actually be listened to.

There’s a lot of good content, hence the splitting of into two episodes. Natalie has strong opinions and a forthright way of putting them in the best of all possible ways. Would you want a simpering milquetoast of a guest? Why? Natalie is funny, warm, and kind – all of that comes through in the podcast. Please join us in welcoming her.

Here’s the agenda:

0:00 – 5:20 – preamble, how we all met
5:20 – 8:25 – drive and why Natalie Does What She Does
8:25 – 14:40 – WIT and advice to women in tech, being an African American woman in tech, mentorship, and the importance of a professional network
14:40 – 16:30 – Advice on career progression
16:30 – 22:10 – Working for Big Four firms
22:10 – 26:50 – Advice for people who want to get involved in community without employer incentives
26:50 – 28:55 – Relationships between boutique firms and the Big Four and where technical work actually gets done
28:55 – 36:10 – Changes in the consulting market recently: layoffs, mergers, and new software vendors
36:10 – 39:25 – Selling the value of EPM, especially on “insight”
39:25 – End – Predictive analytics and adoption in different areas of business and reluctance in Finance/FP&A

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