It was an interesting week; I had the opportunity to attend the SAP BPC Bootcamp in Singapore (Marina Sands Bay Convention and Expo Center) run by SAPInsider. This event was packed with content covering all aspects of BPC; speakers including SAP, IBM and Deloitte to name but a few. In addition there were several interesting case studies presented by real-life client teams which showcased their use of BPC including challenges faced and the solutions implemented to overcome.
For the unfortunates that could not attend this event I will highlight some of the most interesting topics touched upon including BPC 10.0 Member Recognition, BPC design best practices and a useful planning solution that was showcased.
Member Recognition in EPM 10.0
There was a running theme throughout the bootcamp, SAP HANA in conjunction with BPC was mentioned a great deal, however there was only one live demonstration given using BPC 10.0 on HANA and I must say it was entertaining, the boys with the ‘green dot’ doing an excellent job.
Besides the new look and feel of EPM 10.0 (BPC 10.0) there are some remarkable features that will make the users life much easier in addition to reducing implementation efforts.
The feature that sticks in my mind the most was the ability to create a BPC report or input schedule just by typing in the required member names or values directly into Excel (Member Recognition), no formulas or even drag and drop required, just type what you want – amazing.
Once activated, any value entered into the Excel spreadsheet is checked against the member values stored in BPC, if a value is found a quick flash of green in the cell will be seen and the value automatically converted to an EPMOLAP formula:
The member values are automatically converted into an EPMOLAP formula:
If only a partial recognition is found, for example we type just ‘2011’ then a prompt will appear allowing the user to select the required member:
This feature can be done for both for rows and columns including nested expansion possibilities, in addition if a parent node is selected and ‘double clicked’ it will automatically expend to display its children:
Once the rows and columns have been entered BPC will bring back the intersected values:
Excel formulas can be added to determine for example variances, these local formulas are automatically copied down for every row, another nice feature.
How easy is that for a user or a developer to create a BPC report or input schedule, no knowledge of EVDRE or even EPMOLAP formulas required, this will certainly lesson BPC implementation times. There are many more new features in EPM 10.0; I will save these for a future blog.
Top Down and Bottom Up Planning
Another presentation session that stuck in my mind was conducted by some chaps from a end client company in the USA (Solae); they demonstrated to us a solution they had implemented that allows for ‘Top down’ and ‘Bottom up’ planning from within the same input schedule, the solution was quite genius.
Basically, the solution makes use of the BPC ‘Write Back Pre-Process’ BAdi to determine whether information was entered at top or bottom and then allocate based on 12 month history if needed. This whole solution was transparent to the end user and really simplified the budget process – I am defiantly going to use this solution next time – Thanks guys!
Best Practice for BPC
Several sessions focused on best practice for BPC implementations with regard to performance optimisation (not everyone can afford SAP HANA), some useful tips included limiting the number of Dimension and Hierarchies used. The permutations of master data used in the BPC report along with the Hierarchy Node selected contribute to a negative performance impact as the aggregation is done on the fly in the OLAP, an example of this shown below:
In addition tips and tricks on creating workbooks using the EVDRE formulas where given, in certain situations performance can be improved just by changing the EVDRE function used to call data (changing of the MDX statement). Use of BAdi over Script Logic was also an area where high performance gains can be achieved, if the BPC version is NW then leverage on BAdi where possible.
It was demonstrated that using BPC 10.0 with the removal of the .NET application (server) also give a performance boost, BPC 10.0 is now true 64-bit and it was stated that BPC server sizing requires less SAPS (SAP sizing measurement) and is far more scalable than BPC versions 7.0 and 7.5.
BPC NW vs MS
Another interesting point to note is that nearly all speakers at this bootcamp leant towards the Netweaver (NW) version of BPC over the Microsoft (MS) version, even stating so much as non-SAP customers should consider using the Netweaver version due to the added advantages of BAdi, the ability to handle larger data volumes and a higher number of concurrent users.
The only real argument given for MS version is if the client is a Microsoft shop (IT skill set), to which I feel is a poor argument given the arguments for using NW version are far stronger. I predict over the coming years that the MS version will be phased out; it really does not make sense for SAP to continuing to develop BPC MS version unless they are thinking about a SAP HANA only version of BPC….
Unfortunately at these types of events there is always some misinformation, filtering the good from the ‘plain daft’ takeaways is something you should be aware. There was one senior speaker who made a bit of a faux pas by stating that that BPC reporting performance will be acceptable with 200+ dimensions, fortunately this is the only presenter who did not share their presentation with the audience. All I can say is ‘High Performance. Delivered’ – my ass!
All in all, this BPC Bootcamp was informative, a good mix of case studies and real-life practical applications. Any organisation who has implemented or thinking about implementing SAP BPC should attend this type of event, the knowledge gained would certainly save time and money in addition to highlighting new ways to leverage the power of the BPC application itself.