Every new SAP product that comes onto the market is accompanied by a product promise. Often the promise includes entering a new world. That is also the case with the SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC), where the user is promised, for example:
- Self-Service BI
- Planning options
- Extensive Business Content
- User-friendly, intuitive interfaces
- Display on mobile end devices
As always with such promises, it is worth taking a closer look, especially if you are planning the introduction of the SAP Analytics Cloud.
At PIKON, we went through this process ourselves in a project where, among others, we mapped out our personnel assignment planning in the SAC. We can therefore report first-hand on what it’s all about.
Principles of the old world-new world:
The following three principles guided us in the planning of the project and the preparation of the users. These represent the differences between the old world (SAP BPC or SAP IP) and the new world (SAC with SAP IFP and SAP IBP) and have to be considered if the SAC implementation project is to be a successful project.
- Managed BI versus Self-Service BI
- Two worlds versus one world in terms of the reporting and planning
- SAP Analytics Cloud in the context of xP&A
Managed BI versus Self-Service BI:
In the old world, there were no usable Self-Service options. As there can be no doubt that this is a current trend, however, SAP is trying to jump on the bandwagon with SAC.
The user is therefore offered two options for the presentation and visualisation of data: Analytical Applications and Stories.
In this respect, the analytical applications are intended for the mapping of complex requirements. They are more complex to create than Stories, and they require more technical know-how. Therefore, a certain affinity for IT as well as programming and scripting experience is necessary in the specialist department.
Stories, on the other hand, are intended more for visualising simple scenarios and can be learned quickly, making them ideal for Self Service BI.
In addition to clarifying the requirements and matching them with the functionalities offered by the SAC, the question of “what can I entrust to employees?” is therefore important here. It is important to avoid making the mistake of simply letting the staff loose on the application. And if it turns out that the technical know-how isn’t available in the specialist department, it also makes sense to consider a hybrid world. This means that the Stories are developed in the specialist departments, but the analytical applications are programmed in the IT department.
Two worlds versus one world in terms of planning and reporting
The SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) is a comprehensive 3 -in-1 solution: It combines the functions of business intelligence (BI), planning and analytics (predictive and augmented) in one tool. For users, it is most helpful to think of the whole thing as a platform that gives me an integrated view of my planning and reporting applications. Everything happens in the same place and in a uniform environment. There are similar input fields for both the reporting and the planning applications, for example, which naturally means a huge boost in terms of usability. This factor can be put to good use to make users less shy or reluctant about using the new application.
SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) in the context of xP&A
It has become common knowledge that uncertainty in a VUCA world can only be addressed with a more agile approach to planning.
In SAC, this change in the planning paradigm is supported by several ready-made solutions, for forecasting or value-driver-based planning, for example. In addition to this, for the first time, SAC provides the possibility for linking the financial and operational planning on a single platform and therefore taking another important step towards agility. This is achieved by linking SAC with SAP IBP (Integrated Business Planning) and SAP IFP (Integrated Financial Planning). To take full advantage of these new technical possibilities, I naturally need an intensive consideration and discussion regarding an integrated planning process across all specialist departments beforehand. Sufficient time should be given to this factor when planning a corresponding project, as this decides how successfully the project goals can ultimately be achieved.
A planning or reporting project on the SAP Analytics Cloud always means switching to a completely new world. Take this into account when planning such a project, especially when it comes to preparing the specialist department for the project. It will not be possible to perform a straightforward 1:1 transformation. Our experience shows that, especially in the planning environment, a switch to the SAP Analytics Cloud isn’t just a technical project. You should take business and organisational issues into account. However, this should be seen as an opportunity to establish the topic of planning on a future-proof, agile and flexible basis in the company. Use the planning and forecasting processes as a competitive advantage.