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April 30, 2012

Oracle Flex fields

Oracle flexfields is one of the most important parts of Oracle Applications. It is because of the flexfields that the Oracle Applications is so generic in nature and can be used to suit any industry or organization. A flexfield, as the name suggests, is a flexible data field that your organization can customize to your business needs without programming. A flexfield is a field made up of sub–fields, or segments. While flexfields do not require programming, they do allow you to perform significant customizations to the Oracle Applications, so they do require enough explanation for you to get the most out of the features they provide.
Oracle Applications uses two types of flexfields, key flexfields and descriptive flexfields. A key flexfield is a field you can customize to enter multi–segment values such as part numbers, account numbers, and so on. A descriptive flexfield is a field you customize to enter additional information for which your Oracle Applications product has not already provided a field.

Features Oracle Applications flexfields:

·         Have “intelligent fields”—fields comprised of one or more segments, where each segment has both a value and a meaning.
·         Rely upon your application to validate the values or the combination of values that you enter in intelligent fields.
·         Have the structure of an intelligent field change depending on data in your application.
·         Capture additional information if you so choose.
·         Customize data fields to your meet your business needs without programming.
·         Query intelligent fields for very specific information.

Key Flexfields

Key flexfield is a field made up of segments, where each segment has both a value and a meaning. You can think of a key flexfield as an “intelligent” field that your business can use to store information represented as “codes.”
Most organizations use “codes” made up of meaningful segments to identify general ledger accounts, part numbers, and other business entities. Each segment of the code can represent a characteristic of the entity. For example, consider an account number for a bank. A complete bank number may consists of various segments like the country code, area code, city code, branch code, account type, account number etc.
For example, the number of segments a bank requires to identify an account number uniquely is a requirement specific to the bank. Another bank might not require a country code if its presence is there only in one country. Key flexfields are used to identify such information uniquely.
A key flexfield is flexible enough to let you use any code scheme you want to describe an entity. When your organization initially installs an Oracle Applications product, your organization’s implementation team customizes all the key flexfields in that product to use meaningful code segments to describe each key flexfield entity. Your organization decides for each key flexfield, how many segments an entity has, what each segment means, what values each segment can have, and what each segment value means.
Your organization can also define rules that govern what combination of segment values are valid (cross–validation rules), or define dependencies among the segments. The result is that your organization can use the codes it needs rather than change its codes to meet someone else’s requirements.
The Accounting Flexfield in your Oracle Purchasing application is an example of a key flexfield that identifies a unique chart of accounts. One organization may choose to customize the Accounting Flexfield to have three segments called Company, Department, and Account, while another organization may choose to customize the flexfield to have five segments called Company, Cost Center, Account, Sub–Account, and Product.
A key flexfield appears on your form as a normal text field with an appropriate prompt. In figure 1 below, the Account field is actually the Accounting Key Flexfield.

 

Descriptive Flexfields

Descriptive flexfields like the key flexfields provides further scope of customization in Oracle Applications.
Descriptive flexfields provide customizable “expansion space” on your forms. Though the fields on an Oracle Applications form are more than enough to capture all the possible information from the user perspective, but still the users can feel the need of capturing additional information. A descriptive flexfield gives you room to expand your forms for capturing such additional information.
A descriptive flexfield appears on a form as a single–character, unnamed field enclosed in brackets ([ ]) as shown in below.

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Enterprise Structure


Enterprise Structure defines how a company is structured from an operating, legal and reporting perspective. Oracle Application considers the following in defining enterprise structure from an Inventory perspective:
·         Set of Books
·         Legal Entity
·         Operating Unit
·         Inventory Organization
·         Locations

Set of Books (SoB)

This is a financial reporting entity having unique Chart of Account, Calendar and currency. A corporation may have more than one Set of Books. Each Set of Book has the following :
·         Calendar: This is the accounting calendar; this might be different from the workday calendar.
·         Currency: Each SoB has unique functional currency. Transactions can be enetered in multiple currencies which can be converted later.
·         Chart of Accounts: Each SoB has unique chart of Account which represent the set of accounts that related to the Inventory, Purchasing and Account Payables.

Legal Entity

This can be defined as the legal company for which fiscal or tax report can be prepared. A SoB can have multiple tax entities.

Operating Unit

This is a division. A corporation can be divided considering its operation. For example, a computer manufacturer may have separate divisions for Laptop, personal computers and Servers. The Laptop can be represented by one operating unit, which is having its centralized purchasing and ordering function.  The physical part, which is Inventory may have received in separate inventory organization but the purchase orders are maintained centrally in an operating unit to optimize the supply chain. Operating units affects transactions involving in order management, purchasing, payables and receivables.

Inventory Organization

This can be manufacturing facilities, warehouse or any facilities where a company stocks and transacts inventory.

Sub-Inventories

In Oracle Application, these are the physical locations within a manufacturing or warehouse facilities where goods are stocked and transaction takes place from here. These are created inside Inventory Organizations.

Locations

This represents a physical address of a facility, office, warehouse or any place else used in the entity. Inventory Organization uses locations to represent the address of the following:
·         Ship To
·         Bill To
·         Office Site
·         Internal Site
·         Receiving Site
Each Inventory Organization must have at least one location.
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Multi-Tier Architecture

Oracle Apss architecture is a framework for multi-tiered computing in which various servers are distributed in multiple levels or tiers.
A server is a process or group of processes that runs on a single machine and provides a particular functionality often referred as a service.
e.g. HTTPS server is a server which listens and processes HTTP requests and a Forms server is a server which listens and processes requests for activities related to oracle forms.
A Tier is a logical grouping of services, potentially spread across more than one physical machine.

The 3 tier architecture which comprises an oracle ebusiness suite installation is made up of  Desktop tier, Application tier and Database tier.

1. Desktop Tier
The client interface is provided through HTML for the new HTML based applications and via a Java applet for the traditional form based interface in a web browser.
Forms Client Applet:
The Forms client applet is a general-purpose presentation applet that supports all Oracle Apps Forms-based products. The Forms client applet is a JAR file with all Java classes required to run the presentation layer of Oracle Applications forms.
 Oracle Jinitiator:
The Forms client applet must run within a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) on the desktop client. The Oracle JInitiator component allows use of the Oracle JVM on web clients, instead of the browser’s own JVM.

2. Application Tier
The Application Tier hosts various servers that process the business logic, and manages communication between desktop tier and database tier using Oracle9iAS. Six servers comprise the application tier viz:
  • Web Server
  • Form Server
  • Reports Server
  • Discoverable Server (Optional)
  • Concurrent Processing Server
  • Admin Server
Web Server
The oracle HTTP server (Apache) acts as the web server. It processes the requests received over the network from the desktop clients and includes additional components such as: 
  • Web Listeners
  • Java Servlet Engine
  • Java server Pages(JSP)
The Web server may service a request itself by returning the HTML to construct a simple Web page 
or pass the request to the servlet engine, which contacts the database server as needed.
Forms Server:
The Forms server hosts Oracle forms, it is an Oracle Developer 6i component that mediates the communication between the desktop client and the Oracle database server, displaying client screens and initiating changes in the database according to user actions. The Forms server caches data and provides it to the client as needed. Forms server communicates with the Oracle database server using the Oracle Net networking infrastructure. When a user initiates an action in the Forms client applet, such as entering data into a field or clicking a button, data is passed to the Forms server on the application tier. The user interface logic runs in the Forms server, and determines the appropriate user interface effect based on the user’s action.
Reports Server:
The request for an HTML-based report is similar to the flow of any other HTML-based Applications request:
  1. The users clicks on the hyperlink of a function from the browser.
  2. The browser makes a URL request to the web listener.
  3. The web listener contacts the report server through the reports CGI. The reports web CGI allows the user to run reports and see the output through a web browser.
  4. The report server starts the report run time engine
  5. The run time engine locates the necessary reports and connects to the database to query the requested information.
  6. The queried information has been put to the user in the form of a HTML page.
Concurrent Processing Server:
The adhoc reports and scheduled programs which run in the background while users continue to work on other tasks, may require large number of data-intensive computations, and are run using the concurrent processing architecture. Concurrent processing is an Oracle Applications feature that allows these non–interactive and potentially long-running functions to be executed efficiently alongside interactive operations. It uses operating system facilities to facilitate background scheduling of data- or resource-intensive jobs, via a set of programs and forms. Processes that run on the Concurrent Processing server are called concurrent requests. When you submit such a request, either through HTML-based or Forms-based Applications, a row is inserted into a database table specifying the program to be run. A concurrent manager then reads the applicable requests in the table, and starts the associated concurrent program. In Concurrent Processing, programs are run as operating system background processes.
Admin Server:
The Admin server is located on the node where you maintain the data model and data in your Oracle Applications database.
You carry out the following operations from this server:
  • Upgrading oracle Application
  • Applying database patches to oracle Application
In general, Applications patches consist of files and scripts that update the file system and database objects. Most patches consist of a number of patch driver files viz: The copy (c) driver file modifies Applications files, the database (d) driver modifies Applications database objects, and the generate (g) driver generates forms, reports, graphics, or message files.

3. Database Tier
 
The database tier contains the Oracle database server, which stores all the data maintained by Oracle Applications. More specifically, the database tier contains the Oracle data server files and Oracle Applications database executables that physically store the tables, indexes, and other database objects for your system. In general, the database server does not communicate directly with the desktop clients, but rather with the servers on the application tier, which mediate the communications between the database server and the clients.
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Supply Chain Process Overview

A supply chain is a network of suppliers, manufacturers, assembly, distribution and logistic facilities that perform the function of procurement of materials, transformational of material into intermediate and finished products and the distribution of these products to customer.

SCM is a systematic approach to manage the flow of information, material and services from raw material supplier through manufacturer and warehouse and finally to the end customer.

SCM has three primary goals: Reduce Inventory, increase the transaction speed by exchanging data in real-time and increasing sales by implementing customer requirements more efficiently.

Supply Chain Stages/Entities

A typical supply chain involves following stages

  • Customer
  • Retailer
  • Distributor
  • Manufacturer
  • Vendors
In this network, finished goods or components move from vendor to manufacturers to distributors and to finally end customer.Cash flow happens exactly in the revers order, from the customer to the vendor through manufacturer.

Supply Chain Cycles

1. Customer Order Cycle
The customer order cycle occurs at the customer interface and includes following processes
  • Customer Arrival
  • Customer Order entry
  • Customer Order fulfillment
  • Customer order receiving and paying for the goods or services
2. Replenishment Cycle
The replenishment cycle occurs at the retailer/distributor interface, which is similar to the  customer order cycle except that the retailer is now the customer.

3. Procurement Cycle
This cycle occurs at manufacturer/supplier interface which includes the following processes
  • Manufacturer orders component from the supplier
  • Supplier ships the component
  • Manufacturer receives the goods and pay for this
4. Manufacturing Cycle
This cycle typically occurs at manufacturer/distributor interface and includes following processes
  • Order consolidation from the warehouse, distributor, customer and retailers
  • Supply chain planning
  • Production scheduling
  • Manufacturing and stocking
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