SAP NetWeaver BI: Integrated Planning – Overview and Customer Experience
At the Atlanta ASUG/Sapphire 2007 conference in April, I had the pleasure of delivering a presentation about Integrated Planning in SAP NetWeaver BI, in conjunction with Teresa Miquelarena from Kimberly-Clark Corporation.
The purpose of this blog is to share that presentation with you and to highlight some of the points from it. I’ll give you an introduction to the Integrated Planning tool, followed by some insights from Teresa based on her experiences at Kimberly-Clark implementing this new planning tool.
You can see the full presentation at:
SAP introduced planning as a part of SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (BI) with BW-BPS in SAP BW 3.5. The next generation planning tool within SAP NetWeaver BI is Integrated Planning. BI Integrated Planning will allow for the ease of use of planning in the SAP NetWeaver BI environment, while also being fully integrated with SAP NetWeaver. With BW-BPS (and also SEM-BPS), we addressed the challenge of providing a single, corporate-wide planning backbone that shared a common database and common data models. The BI Integrated Planning tool takes this a step further, by introducing an integrated planning and analysis interface. This enhanced integration provides many benefits, as illustrated in the following excerpt from the presentation:
The following picture provides a graphical illustration of the architecture of BI Integrated Planning tool.
With BW-BPS, designers used BPS-specific tools to deploy planning layouts to the planning users, while the SAP Business Explorer or BEx suite was used for reporting. Therefore, a business process expert supporting both reporting and planning activities would have to use more tools to provide that support. From a user perspective, planning and reporting could be brought together in the SAP NetWeaver Portal, but would have different features. BI Integrated Planning models are deployed to the end user using the BEx tools – a planning-enabled query is developed and can be included in a BEx Analyzer workbook or a Web application developed in the BEx Web Application Designer. This change benefits both the designers, who have fewer tools to master, and the users, who have a single user interface for their reporting and planning activities.
Previously, we also had separate OLAP and planning engines. In this illustration, you can see that the engines have been merged to create the Analytic Engine. This provides the planning user with the advantages of having access to OLAP services, such as drill down, formulas, exceptions, conditions and so on, while reducing the effort for the planning model designer by eliminating overlaps in functionality, such as the requirement to build variables in both BEx and in the planning environment.
The part of the architecture that has not changed is the integration with the Enterprise Data Warehousing layer, which provides the common database and common data models that help support consistency and accuracy across the organization.
The next illustration provides a view of the planning process:
The modeler starts by creating the real-time InfoProvider (or MultiProvider that includes a real-time InfoProvider) that will be used for storing the planning data. For this step, you use the same back-end modeling tools as for reporting. In the planning modeler, the designer identifies the appropriate InfoProvider and defines the appropriate planning objects, such as the aggregation level, characteristic relationships, data slices, filters, planning functions (e.g., copy, delete, revaluate, etc.) and planning sequences. For details on all of the planning objects, see the online help at http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw04s/helpdata/en/43/1d2440301a06f4e10000000a422035/frameset.htm (http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw04s/helpdata/en/43/1d2440301a06f4e10000000a422035/frameset.htm).
The Web-based Planning Modeler is the central application where the complete modeling and customizing for the BI Integrated Planning is done. In the modeler, one maintains the different planning related objects like aggregation levels and planning functions and the relationships among these objects.
To assist a first time or infrequent user in creating a planning model, a planning wizard, which offers support in the form of an assistant that leads you through a simple scenario, is also provided.
The final two illustrations from the overview of BI Integrated Planning show planning models deployed via BEx Analyzer and BEx Web Application Designer:
Designers will create input-ready queries based on the planning model and combine these with the planning functions to develop an interactive planning application that allows data to be entered and changed automatically or manually by users. These applications can be Web-based or Excel-based, using the BEx Web Application Designer or BEx Analyzer. As a front-end for planning applications, the BEx Analyzer combines the power of Excel as a rich client with a centrally managed planning model. For example, users can enrich their workbooks with their own private calculations and save workbooks locally without loosing the link to the central planning model. With the BEx Web Application Designer, your planning users have access to the same OLAP features and planning capabilities, with the advantage of a light client solution.
That concludes my quick overview of BI Integrated Planning, so I’ll now turn it over to Teresa to share her experiences and key lessons learned about this tool from a customer perspective.
BI Integrated Planning at Kimberly-Clark Corporation
Kimberly Clark was a ramp-up customer for SAP NetWeaver 7.0 (2004s). As part of our ramp up experience we decided to prototype BI Integrated Planning since we use BW-BPS. The first question that should come to mind is “What do we need to use BI Integrated Planning?” The following pictures provide a step by step needed to start using BI Integrated Planning:
To be able to start using BI Integrated Planning you will need to upgrade your BI landscape to SAP NetWeaver 7.0 (2004s) with the latest Support Stack released by SAP. Usually the next question comes to “Do I need to upgrade the back-end and front-end?” To use BI Integrated Planning you will need to do an ABAP upgrade (back-end) as well as a JAVA upgrade (BI Java Stack). The JAVA upgrade will allow you to use new front-end tools such as BEx Analyzer, BEx Report Designer, BEx Web Application Designer and BEx Query Designer.Installing the JAVA component doesn’t mean that you will also need to upgrade all your reports. You can decide whether to upgrade the BW 3.x reports at that moment or later on. It means that you will need to install the new SAPGUI for BI 7.0 in order to be able to use the new BEx Query Designer. The BEx Query Designer is needed to be able to create input-ready queries based on the planning model and combine these with the planning functions to develop an interactive planning application that allows data to be entered and changed automatically or manually by users. It also means that you need the JAVA component in order to use BI Integrated Planning. BI Integrated Planning runs on the SAP NetWeaver Portal (mandatory). To be able to use the planning modeler from BI Integrated Planning as a Web-based application that is installed on the SAP J2EE Engine, the system automatically creates, with the help of the template installer, the following JCo destinations in the Web Dynpro Content Administrator of the SAP J2EE Engine: 0.1. BI_MODELDATA
* *Configure all systems (including the portal) with the settings for the Java Virtual Machine recommended in SAP Note 723909. For users to be able to call the tools for business planning as an iView in the portal, you must assign them the portal role com.sap.ip.bi.business_planning_showcase in the Portal Content Directory (PCD). Specify J2EE: You can choose from: * Add-In J2EE installation
J2EE installation that is defined using an arbitrary URL. If you choose this option, you have to specify a URL prefix using the format <protocol>://<host>:<port>. For details on all of the Business Planning and Analytical Services, see the online help at [http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw70/helpdata/en/fa/c1194276e0de2ce10000000a1550b0/frameset.htm | http://help.sap.com/saphelp_nw70/helpdata/en/fa/c1194276e0de2ce10000000a1550b0/frameset.htm] The following picture provides lessons learned with the SAP NetWeaver 7.0 (2004s) Upgrade:
The ramp-up of SAP NetWeaver 7.0 (2004s) Support Stack 9 was done on a sandbox. We decided to go with the ABAP and JAVA upgrade. At that time, we learned to go first with the ABAP and then with the JAVA mainly because of two reasons: 1. We ran into a couple of issues trying to install the BI Java Stack. SAP didn’t have enough information on how to install the BI Java Stack so we lost a couple of days in there. However, at this time, SAP has created documentation on how to install the BI Java Stack, and this should not be an issue anymore. 2. We ran into a couple of issues trying to convert all reports from BW 3.x to BI 7.0. Most of these issues are now resolved by SAP since they released many Support Stacks after 9. Our approach to upgrade all landscapes to SAP NetWeaver 7.0 (2004s) was first to do the ABAP upgrade and after on during the year to do the JAVA including the front-end upgrade. To be able to prototype BI Integrated Planning we used a demand process already running on BW-BPS.
The following picture provides recommendations and differences between BW-BPS and BI Integrated Planning:
A first question that usually comes to mind is whether to use BI Integrated Planning or BW-BPS. The answer is very easy, if you are implementing a brand new scenario SAP recommends that you use BI Integrated Planning. On the other hand, if you are planning to do an enhancement on an existent scenario then SAP recommends going with BW-BPS. A good point about the SAP NetWeaver 7.0 (2004s) upgrade is that you are not forced to upgrade also your BW-BPS application to BI Integrated Planning. You are able to run both in parallel since they use the same data basis. BW-BPS will be delivered and maintained with SAP NetWeaver BI releases equal or higher than SAP NetWeaver 7.0. A second question that usually comes to mind is “Do we have any migration tool from BW-BPS to BI Integrated Planning?”The critical and time consuming part for modeling the planning application (InfoCubes, characteristics, key figures, authorizations, locking concept, status & tracking,…) can be reused in BI Integrated Planning.Only front-end related objects like planning layouts (being replaced with input-ready queries), web interfaces, planning areas, planning levels, planning packages, planning sequences need to be rebuilt with BI Integrated Planning. The following picture provides business benefits gained from the BI Integrated Planning prototype: