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In the on-going SAP Business Intelligence customer feedback project, one of the more interesting statistics so far is that only about a half of customers in production on SAP BW 3.0B or SAP BW 3.1 Content are deploying reports via the Web.

We at SAP would like to get more input on this topic. If you are on one of these releases and are not using Web reporting, what is the reason?
– No user requirement for it
– No resources/time to deploy it
– Tools too difficult/not powerful enough
– Web presentation/printing issues
– Other

We’d also like to know if you have plans for implementing Web reporting in the future, whether you plan to deploy via SAP Enterprise Portal or another portal, and what SAP can deliver in the way of Web reporting to help you achieve these plans. Please include your release number in your response.

Thanks!

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23 Comments

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  1. Anonymous
    Hi Kathleen,

    Now before I get started, you will be glad to know that 80%+ of our reporting is via the Web.  The exceptions to this are:

    Here are just a couple of reasons:
    1. Printing is sort of an issue, we have work-arounds but to print from the web can be an issues. Example Fit to page, including graphics, fit to 1 page wide 4 pages tall,…;
    2. Having BW document information displayed with out a lot of custom work.  An example would be a variance report that needs to include reasons why the variance is like it is;
    3. BEx has the capability to upload selection parameters….  This would be good to allow from the Web front end.

    Now the benefits to be able to go to ONLY web are huge.   Not having to keep the desktop client standardized for 1000+ desktops gives us a great savings.   Not sure why people are not doing it.

    If you need more details give me a dingle….

    Darin Paton
    TransAlta
    (403) 267-7349
    dpaton@transalta.com

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    1. Anonymous
      Darin,

      Thanks for the input! I am happy to hear that TransAlta is using the Web Reporting so heavily. And I hope that your reply will encourage other customers who ARE deploying via the Web to provide their feedback as well. The more people I hear back from, the better!

      I’ll include your feedback in my report to management. Your #1 is definitely an item I’ve heard before, but the other two are new to me. Either way, it’s useful information for development.

      Thanks again!
      Katie

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    2. Sebastian Uhlig
      Hi Darin,

      I agree to your points, especially 1. and 3. Some notes from my side to point 3, as I was also disappointed that you cannot select multiple values easily.

      Although it is not possible to upload several values in the variable selection screen, it is possible to do this with an enhancement in the context menu. For instance you can enhance the context menu for each characteristic with a link to a new web template. In this web template you simply put a text box (the user can put his values with copy and paste in the text box). With Javascript you read the textbox and create a hidden form, which sends the value restrictions via WEB-API URL commands (“&FILTER_IOBJNM=xyz&FILTER_VALUE_1=abc…”) to the query in the opener template, from where you started with the context menu.

      This seems to be a fairly easy way to e.g. select even a lot of single customers (I tested some several thousand customer numbers, the performance is mostly depending on the data model).

      If you have any questions on how to do it in detail, just send me an email to suhlig@gmx.de.

      Regards
      Sebastian

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  2. Deepu Sasidharan
    Hi Kathleen,

    I am working at a client site where the go live is planned 100% on the web (BW 3.0B). Some of the problems I have seen and some suggestions are given below:

    1. Printing is a big issue I have seen at most of the places. We had to develop custom solutions for printing.

    2. Provide APIs to customize the variable screen, role menu and chart and the  similar to table interface API (CL_RSR_WWW_MODIFY_TABLE). I have seen lots of request for the above items.

    3. Provide an option to export the report to PDF format.

    4. Integrate bookmarking functionality and the roles. Currently when the user saves a bookmark there is no way to add the report to the user favorites or the browser favorites. If a interface can be provided for adding the bookmarked URL to the user favorites, the users will have a  centralized storage for the favorites.

    If you need more specifics on any of the items mentioned above please let me know.

    Thanks.

    -Deepu

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    1. Anonymous
      Deepu,

      Thanks for the feedback. As you may have seen in my response to Darin, printing is an issue that has been brought up to me before. But each mention of it as an issue is validation of the importance of enhancing this. I’ll be consolidating these web log responses and providing the information to development, so if we need further clarification on any point, someone will be in touch. But they all sound reasonable and pretty clear to me.

      Thanks again,
      Katie

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  3. Kartheek Kandikuppa
    Hi Katie,

             You will be happy to know that we are also using web reporting extensively. Really, web reporting is faster many times than Bex. However, please find below some of the additional issues which act as show stoppers:

    01. There is no web item to retrieve the technical name or description of a view.

    02. Alert monitor web item should be enhanced so that we can do some customization on it. For example, its look and feel, Freeze scrolling facility etc.,

    03. There should be a provision to open the Bex workbook corresponding to the web report. I mean, not just download to excel, users should be able to navigate on the excel download.

    Thanks & Regards,
    Kartheek

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  4. Matt Geiger
    Hi Katie,

    There are two big reasons why we are not implementing web reporting.

    1.) The printing and exportation to Excel are not very elegant.  Our business clients are much more comfortable with making business decisions if they can print out the results of a report and examine them without having to scroll on a screen.

    2.)  The layouts of the web reports cannot be customized enough to do sort of a pixel by pixel alignment of the data.  So, web reports with multiple queries come out looking clunky.

    We realize that there are many advantages to standard web based reporting, but until some of these issues are solved, we need to provide a way (Bex analyzer with VBA) for the business clients to make decisions faster and easier.

    Thanks!
    ~Matt

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  5. Dave P
    I have recent completed an implementation for 500 users providing access to financial and HR reports in the Portal v5.

    The financial users cannot cope with the reporting in the portal, they are simply lost without Excel. The option to download to Excel is flaky and cumbersome.
    However the HR users who are not familiar with Excel in their normal reporting are perfectly happy with the portal.

    David

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    1. Pankaj Gupta
      Another Issue:

      I have not seen how to user “Selection Variants” on the Web.

      Pankaj

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      1. Anonymous
        Pankaj,

        I am not sure that this is what you are looking for, but have you seen the “How To … Use a Dropdown Box to Set Variable Values” document? You can find it in the Service Marketplace at alias /bw, under the Services & Implementation in the BW3.0B/BW3.1 Content section.

        Thanks for the input,
        Katie

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      2. Marc Bernard
        Pankaj,

        also in BW 3.5 you can user can define their own query views. A query view contains the variant (i.e. the current selection and drill-down state) and the visualization (i.e. table grid or chart).

        Regards,
        Marc
        SAP NetWeaver RIG, US BI

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    2. Anonymous
      David,

      I’ve also heard many opinions that Financial users won’t give up Excel. I think as we develop the product further, you’ll see fewer differences between the two options and also better integration. But clearly enhancements would be desirable.

      Thanks,
      Katie

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  6. Brad Daniels
    Katie –
    We are pushing users to web reporting more and more here, and as many peole have stated, the performance increase can be dramatic.(5-10X).
    We have also been able to achive some good results in terms of flexibility and functionality by customizing the std template and using capabilities such as table-API.
    However, we do seems some gaps in web reporting that are not available with web. Some of these are significant enough to prevent users from moving from BEX(excel) to web:
    1. printing (already mentioned many times in the discussion).
    2. ability to copy selected cells/upload list and paste in variable input
    3. GUI functionality such as cut/paste into other documents
    4. ability to highlight (non-sequential) cells and select as filter values
    5. cannot order characteristics and key figures in any desired manner
    6. usability of search functionality much better in bex
    7. cannot select/deselect ALL in web when searching for values
    8. can do functions for ALL charceristics in BEx (show results rows, etc..) – have to do individually in web.
    9. “change local view” functionality is very popular in BEx – allows “one step” to do multiple changs – web requires refresh after each change

    To be clear, overall , we are still very happy with web for the most part. There are many other advantages on time of performance that web enables (conditions/exdeptions “on the fly”) that users can take advantage of.
    Just wanted to note the gaps that we have found so far.
    Curious if any of these will be addressed in future releases?

    Brad Daniels
    Rohm and Haas

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    1. Anonymous
      Brad,

      Thanks for both the positive comments as well as the good list of suggestions. I can’t give you any specifics at this point on future releases, but I know that we are always working to enhance our reporting capabilities.

      Thanks,
      Katie

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  7. Eddy De Clercq
    Hi,
    I´m writing from the Munich Teched on a German keyboard, so forgive me for typos.

    We did some web reporting indirectly by using the WEB AS as the presentation layer.
    Why?
    The main reason is that the presentation capabilities (HTML-wise) are rather poor (to my knowledge) and the adaption of the L&F is rather tedious.
    You might say that about the updating of the data. It only needs to be update once, since loading the SAP R/3 data into an infocube takes too long in order to have it interactive.
    So how I did it?
    I made a batch job which runs directly after the infocube load. This job runs the queries one would run via Bex. Now running queries in batch and even just after another job isn´t a painless task, but that´s maybe something for another weblog or whatever.
    Anyway, after running this queries off line, we have some raw data in tables. To make the results understandable for the audience I need to join the data with repository tables, etc. One could do this on line, but since the data is only changed once a day, another batch job is made which does this after running the qeuries.
    For the record, all these batch job run on the BW system. The last step is to say the web as BSP that it can read the data from the BW system by setting a date.
    The web AS BSP will use this date in order to get the correct data. The data is retrieved via RFCed FMs and that displayed via the WEB As BSP.

    Greetings

    Eddy

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    1. Anonymous
      Eddy,

      Your comments were interesting, because I think most customers felt the HTML capabilities were much improved in SAP BW 3.0B. Which release are you working on?

      Thanks,
      Katie

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  8. DJ Adams
    Hi there

    We’re just investigating BI (3.5) for data and reporting consolidation, and if we go ahead, intend to use web reporting in a big way. Not through the EP, though (we don’t have that, nor do we intend to use it, for various reasons). We have our own portal, and want to make the web reporting available through that.

    Kind regards
    DJ

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    1. Anonymous
      Thanks DJ. We’ve had several customers go live with SAP BW 3.5 in the SAP NetWeaver ’04 ramp-up, so the upgrades seem to be going pretty well. I hope you decide to go forward with it.

      Katie

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  9. Dirk Herzog
    Hi Katie,
    some of my experience with German companies:

    1. BI is often used for controlling and financials data. These people love and need Excel and they are very suspicious if their data is transmitted via web (even if there is no real reason for this).
    2. In Excel you are able to sort and calculate outside of BEx.
    3. In-Depth analysis has priority over widely distributed reports. Many companies see BW merely as a more beautiful replacement of their R/3 reports and just begin to explore the new possibilities a BW can offer.

    Best regards
       Dirk

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