Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

BI Publisher, the report generating tool for Siebel CRM

As of version 8.1, Oracle BI Publisher (formerly known as XMLP Publisher) has replaced Actuate as report generating tool for Siebel. During a Siebel Case Management implementation, I got some insights which I’d like to share.

The first step was a rather smooth installation and configuration process. We had BI Publisher up and running within no-time, and only very minimal configuration was required to integrate it with Siebel. By pointing the web services to the right URL’s and adjusting some BI settings, we could start making the first reports.

Siebel ships with a large number of out-of-the-box reports, and it’s easy to create your own. The reports combine RTF-templates from the BI Server with XML data from Siebel into various document types, such as PDF. The templates are easy to maintain using BI Publisher Desktop, a simple plugin for MS Word. XML data is composed by Siebel Integration Objects.

When generating a report, Siebel sends an XML file to BI Publisher, which then merges the data with the template and sends the report file to the Siebel File System. The architecture is shown in the figure below.

Siebel and BI Publisher architecture

Sounds good so far? Sure, but as soon as you start working with the out-of-the-box functionality, some downsides come up. I’ll discuss the most prominent ones I ran into.

  1. All the variable data for the report should be stored in the Siebel data model. This may sound logical, but can present some limitations. It would have been nice if the end user would be able to fill out extra fields before generating the report, without having to store these in Siebel.
  2. Lack of context: when a user generates a report from, say, a case, or an opportunity, the report is shown to the user and stored in the Siebel File System, without any reference to the Case or Opportunity it is based on. We were able to overcome this by using UCM and a service bus, so we can now show the generated reports in a child applet.
  3. Automation is not standard: Siebel 8.1 does not allow reports to be generated automaticaly, such as in workflows or eScript. All reports have to be generated by end users, which is not always an option for the customer.

Luckily, some of these pitfalls have been solved in QuickFixes and Siebel 8.1.1. I’ll discuss the changes  later, so keep an eye out for it!

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Category: CRM
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6 Responses (last comment shown first)

July 29, 2010

Hi Rick,

thanks for the very interesting article.
I’m curious to know if you were able to deactivate the automatic document download pop-up in your UCM integration solution. I’ve seen that the SWE Attachment Manager is called to open the file but I haven’t found any info on this service yet.


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June 30, 2010
Rick van Haasteren

Hi Harnam,

What happens if you load the XML data in BI Publisher Desktop and try to run a Preview (Preview > PDF or any other format from the BIP Desktop Add-In menu)?

If you do get data in your Preview, but not from the application, make sure that your Integration Object matches the XML you use to generate previews.

Best regards,

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June 29, 2010
Harnam Singh
Harnam Singh

URGENT HELP is highly appreciated:

I designed a BIP report in RTF template and used XSL template to display recursive data. Like below:

Template Recursive
For Each Xa Attribute Value Next Xa
For Each Child Quote Item
Call Template
Next Child
End Template

For Top Level Quote Item
Call Template
Next Top Level Quote Item

It works fine from rtf but when configuring in Siebel CRM, it always gives blank data.

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May 12, 2010

Hi Mike,

Thanks for your reply. The approach is a bit different than you described. Actually, we set up UCM in such a way that the Case Number is added as a metadata field in UCM. When viewing the documents of a case, we make UCM retrieve all the files with the selected case number. All files are in the same folderr however.

Oracle Service Bus was used to catch reports coming back from BI. Normally, these files would only be stored in the Siebel file system. In our case, the documents are routed to both the Siebel File System and UCM. At the end of each day, all files are cleared from the Siebel File System, as UCM is the real document management system.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.


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May 5, 2010
Mike Evans
Mike Evans

Rick, very good article.

Within which you highlighted that UCM can be used to provide a more robust approach to structuring reports with Cases.

As I understand it Siebel creates a folder location in UCM on creation of a case, and with the native UCM interface displayed in place of Case attachments view… all documents added to a case and stored in UCM are automatically associated, through the UCM folder, to the case.

How was the Oracle Service bus used to provide the naming of the case reference into the document?


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