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What a topic! I guess this is going to turn out to be a long blog, but I will do my best to keep it readable… Where to start? Ok, let’s first describe CPM (Corporate Performance Management). I’ll assume that if you are reading this blog you already have a good handle on the fundamentals of CPM, so I will skip that and go straight to how CPM translates into specific products at SAP…

Firstly, let’s take SAP’s acquisition of OutlookSoft. The OutlookSoft product (formerly called OutlookSoft 5) is now called “SAP Business Planning and Consolidations 5.0”, or SAP BPC for short… it wouldn’t be an SAP product if we couldn’t abbreviate it into another three letter acronym :-). As you could probably guess from the name, this product fills out two capabilities in SAP’s CPM portfolio, namely, Planning (including budgeting and forecasting) and Financial Consolidations (legal and management). Next up is “SAP Strategy Management” (SAP SSM), which was the former PilotWorks product from Pilot Software. SAP SSM is a scorecarding based solution, designed to monitor and manage organizational objectives, initiatives and metrics, as well as cascade these throughout the organization so that corporate strategy becomes relevant for all employees. Also a part of the SAP CPM portfolio is the SAP Business Profitability Management application by Acorn (SAP BPM by Acorn). Again, as the name implies, this solution is designed to model and optimize profitability, through the use of Activity-Based Costing methodologies (for those interested, I would also recommend reading this white paper on Time-Driven Activity Based Costing, which is a methodology that SAP BPC supports).

Last, but by no means least, is reporting. The SAP BPC and SSM products do come with built-in reporting and/or dashboarding capabilities for their respective solutions, however, as most readers will already know, SAP also has extremely sophisticated reporting and dashboarding capabilities in SAP NetWeaver BI. So today, we do have a number of options available for reporting, however, SAP NetWeaver BI does offer the most robust reporting capabilities and still remains the future direction for BI and reporting at SAP. However, the SAP BPC product in particular has some sophisticated Microsoft Office integration (particularly, but not limited to, Microsoft Excel), and was purpose built to provide some very nice capabilities for financial reporting. Therefore, as it stands today, financial reporting is possible through both the BEx Suite in SAP NetWeaver BI, as well as through the Microsoft Office client in SAP BPC. If you are interested in financial reporting, you should take a look at the capabilities of both products and see which solution is a better fit for your specific requirements. I will come back to the reporting topic a little later in the blog when I discuss how SAP is planning to move forward in the CPM space, but while we are on the topic of SAP NetWeaver BI, I just want to confirm that this is the strategic platform that all of the above products (SSM, BPC and BPM) will run on top of. Integration to the NetWeaver BI platform is the highest priority for us at SAP, and development is well under way for both SSM and BPC already. That does not mean that any customers running their solutions on the currently offered platforms will be forced to migrate off them as soon as the NetWeaver BI release is available – just that the NetWeaver BI option will become available for those who wish to leverage it.

Returning back to CPM now… I hope it is clear at this point what products and capabilities we are referring to when we at SAP use the term Corporate Performance Management. I think these products should completely cover any industry definition of CPM, and I believe SAP is one of the few vendors who could claim to have such a comprehensive CPM portfolio. However, for those with a bit of a history in the SAP world, you may well be asking “What about SEM?” (for those not familiar, SEM, or Strategic Enterprise Management, has historically been SAP’s offering in the CPM space). So let’s take the same approach and go through each of main products in the SEM portfolio.

First up… SEM-BPS (Business Planning and Simulation). Several years ago, the BPS product was transferred into the NetWeaver BI platform, and became known as BW-BPS. Since the release of SAP NetWeaver BI 7.0, the BPS product was no longer being enhanced any further, and BI Integrated Planning (BI-IP) took over it’s duties. So really, the question is not BPS vs. the Planning capabilities in BPC, but rather BI-IP vs. BPC. Fortunately for me, Prakash Darji has already written a SAP Business Planning & Consolidations (Outlooksoft) vs BI Integrated Planning. I won’t repeat anything he has already discussed, but to try and summarize, both of these two products bring a lot to the table, and each have different core strengths. The NetWeaver BI-IP solution offers an excellent infrastructure for planning applications that the BPC application will be able to take advantage of in the future. Therefore, SAP will continue to invest in both of these product lines because we are going to bring these two solutions together in the future. So you should feel completely comfortable with any investment you put into either of these two products. I know your next question is then probably “when and how are you going to bring them together?”. As I mentioned earlier, we are currently integrating the BPC product to SAP NetWeaver BI, and this takes time. You can expect the next BPC product to be completely integrated to BI (estimated for late Q2/2008), but this product will not be integrated to BI-IP, and nor will the BEx front-ends and the BPC front-ends be converged (i.e. we will still have 2 separate front-ends in the next BPC release). Front-end convergence, as well as having the BPC application leverage the BI-IP infrastructure, is planned for in the subsequent release, so more details about what this means from a product perspective will be available closer to the applicable release date.

So hopefully this answers your questions (at least the big ones) around the direction of planning. The next SEM product I would like to take a look at is the Balanced Scorecard and Management Cockpit solution. With SAP’s acquisition of Pilot Software, the future direction for scorecarding (not dashboarding… there is a big difference!) at SAP is SAP Strategy Management (i.e. these SEM components are not being enhanced any further, but continue to be supported by SAP). We see the SAP Strategy Management application brining a lot of to the table, including:

  • A methodology agnostic approach, where the Balanced Scorecard is just one of many supported methodologies
  • Advanced Operational Review/Briefing Book capabilities
  • A highly collaborative solution that encourages discussions and explanations around the figures
  • A modern and intuitive user interface
  • Administration of the system by business users, with minimal reliance on IT
  • The ability to use interactive, custom strategy maps/goal diagrams
  • Support of both qualitative and quantitative KPI’s
  • And many other benefits!

In terms of the Management Cockpit, similar results are achievable in SAP NetWeaver 7.0 through the BEx Suite and Visual Composer. Therefore, whilst there is no direct replacement of the Management Cockpit, the functionality it offered is readily achievable in SAP NetWeaver 7.0.

The last SEM product I wanted to discuss is SEM-BCS for consolidations. Obviously, BCS is a very functional product that SAP has developed over many years now, with many customers, for management and legal consolidations. Due to the breadth and distribution of SAP’s customer base, it has been enhanced over time to successfully support the language and regulatory requirements for all regions of the world. While the BPC solution for consolidations has not yet had the chance to go through the same scale of implementations to get to the same degree of robustness as BCS, it does provide business users with flexible, decentralized administration and reporting. That does not make one product more capable than other, it’s just that again, each product has its core strengths, and which one is right for you will depend on your specific scenario and requirements. However, you should feel totally comfortable investing in either solution today as both the consolidation capabilities of BPC and SEM-BCS are going to continue to be invested in by SAP. You may have seen the recent enhancements to SEM-BCS in Enhancement Package II, and more enhancements will be coming in future Enhancement Packages too. Of course the long term goal of SAP is to have one consolidations product, but the timing of when this will happen has not been finalized yet, which is why you will see SAP continue to be investing in both product lines. As I said, you should feel totally comfortable investing (or your prior investment) into either of these products.

Probably another burning question you might have at this point is what about migration between releases? SAP will be providing migration utilities to assist any upgrades to future product releases, but until we have the new product actually developed, we obviously can’t develop any migration tools. That means I can’t describe exactly what the migration tools will or will not do for each product, at this point in time. However, I can tell you that we are VERY conscious of this topic, we give it A LOT of thought, and we do intend to provide appropriate tools to minimize any work involved in upgrading from older product releases to newer ones. In fact, you can start to see the very beginning of the migration tools from SEM-BSC to SAP Strategy Management in OSS Note 1060670, where we have provided an export of the BSC customizing that will be able to be imported into SSM (note: this is just the beginning of the SSM migration tools as they are still under development, so this is not the complete offering of course).

So even though it was a bit long, I hope this blog has helped clarify some of the questions you might have around the next-generation CPM products we are working on. I of course don’t expect to have answered all of the questions you might have, but we will continue to provide more and more details over time.

BTW – We have recently launched a CPM Enterprise Performance Management (SAP EPM), so I would encourage you to post any questions on the overall CPM topic you have there, and we will also be launching a CPM page on BPX soon.

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  1. Caforio Claudio
    Hi Ryan, thank you for this blog and detailed information.

    You say: “the next BPC product to be completely integrated to BI (estimated for late Q2/2008),…”.

    1st question: BPC will read directly to BI cubes tables in this release?
    2nd question: what will be the macroscopic differences between the architecture of old (Outlooksoft) and new (SAP) release of CPM (except SQL server/Oracle substitution)? What lost and what added?
    3rd I have OS 4.2 and NTW BI 7.0 software licences: what are the three most important point to decide the implementation on a unique platform of Allocations and Analytical/Industrial Accounting with volumes of 3-4.000.000 record/month? What is the best scenario in this light-off future 🙂 ?

    Thank you,

    Claudio

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Claudio,

      Thanks for your questions.

      1) Yes, BPC will read/write to InfoCubes in NW BI in the next release.

      2) For specifics on differences between releases, we will publish a lot more material closer to the product release date. But for now, the most significant difference is that the new BPC release on NetWeaver will only ever read/write to the ABAP dictionary, rather than reading/writing directly to SQL Server. That means the next BPC release will be Database independent.

      We then of course also have the differences in architecture between NW BI and Analysis Services. So for example, there would not be a need to “Process a Dimension” in NW BI (Dimension in OSFT = InfoObject in NW BI). This makes maintenance of master data much faster for the user (a caveat here of course, is that if you used aggregates that were affected in NW BI, you would still have to execute a hierarchy/attribute change run). Also, since we are using NW BI, there is also the potential to use BIA in the NW BI based architecture for BPC.

      3) I see you have posted this question in the CPM forum… I will ask Jean-Hubert to respond to your thread/get in contact with you (he works with me in the CPM Product Management team, and is responsible for Planning).

      Regards,
      Ryan

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        1. Ryan Leask Post author
          Hi Rao,

          As per my previous post – very sorry about the delay in responding!

          VC capabilities will not be directly included into the product in BPC 7. However, you should be able to technically connect VC to BPC7 (using either Web Services or an RFC potentially). I am not sure as of today, which API’s we have that will be *supported* for external consumption such as this though.

          In addition to supported API’s, there are a few different complications to think through in doing this, so I would need to prototype it out for sure (which I will probably do at some point)… but I do think it will be technically possible.

          Now with Business Objects products, integration to other dashboarding products are also being planned for BPC in the future too.

          Thanks,
          Ryan

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  2. Aaron Batchac
    Hi Ryan,
    it is good news that SAP is moving in the area of CPM.  The described concept for SSM sounds good.  I have just implemented CPM-BSc at a client and they were very frustrated with many things (espcially the limited configurability of the frontend). 

    I am soon to begin a project advicing another client on a scorecard solution.  They have rejected SEM-CPM-BSc, but now I might be able to propose something else from SAP.

    Suggestions for the future:
    1) Ensure that a tighter integration to BI70 is POSSIBLE (but not necessary if they dont want it) than was the case with SEM-CPM (e.g. same variables, a way of transferring values in both ways regarding the application context – currently only possible from scorecard to BW drill down).
    2) An enhanced configurability of the front-end is key (here I dont need to say more).
    3) The collaborative features are very important (examples of missing features are e-mail distribution lists – the current central ones are not usable, hyperlinking between comments).

    I think Prakash Darij´s discussion on the level of integration is very good.  I agree that it is essential that the business can be given more autonomy vs IT.  Here, careful consideration needs to be given as to what is defined as transportable objects and what shall be defined directly in the P-system. I believe that objects with business ownership must be moved more towards P-systems definitions (i.e. not transporting).  Examples in the current BSc solution was Measure ownership and substitute definition. 

    Just a few thoughts.

    Greetings,
    Martin

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  3. Anand Murthy
    In the current SAP-SEM context, the central catalog of KPIs created using the Measure Builder (SEM-CPM-MB) can thereafter be accessed in Planning, Scorecards (CPM-BSC) Risk Management (CPM-RMS) Value Driver Trees (CPM-VDT) and Cockpits(CPM-MC)

    Given the strategic acquisition of OutlookSoft, PilotSoft & partnership with Acorn; and subsequent replacement/ repackaging in BPC, CPM, Profitability Mgmt etc., what is the change to the role of the Measure Builder and its relationship with other components of CPM by SAP.

    Tx & rgds
    /AM

    PS: I may not have used the exact terms correctly, but if you have a question or clarification on what I’m trying to enquire about, pls. do write & I shall clarify further. Thank you!

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Anand,

      I understand your question, but I see you also posted it to the CPM Forums too. Just to avoid duplication of effort, we will answer the question in the forum…

      Regards,
      Ryan

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  4. Caforio Claudio
    Hy Ryan,

    what release will have a standard tool of communication between SAP ECC/SAP BI and OS CPM (<=4.2) or SAP BPC? There is a roadmap for the previous and actual releases?

    In particular I refer to a tool “SAP Standard Certified” as between R/3 and BW, with good and performances of communication (in RFC) and with consistent rules (Idoc).

    …. also, but secondary, are you studying an equivalent of these “BW extractor”:
    1) General Ledger: Balances, Leading Ledger (0FI_GL_10 or 3FI_GL_xx_TT) from New GL
    2) Line Item extractor for New GL (secondary importance)
    and extractor for
    – master data
    – hierarchies
    – text

    Thank you,
    Claudio

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Claudio,

      We are working on a BI / BPC 5.x integration paper at the moment, so we will publish it as soon as it is ready. It’s not a separate tool as such, just a strategy on how it can be approached with the software today.

      There are also some newGL BI Content extractors planned for next year. I dont have the exact date, so let me get back to you on that.

      Regards,
      Ryan

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        1. Ryan Leask Post author
          Hi Claudio,

          I think the extractors for balances should already be there? The line item extractor for newGL will be delivered in EhP3 for ERP 2005.

          Cheers,
          Ryan

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  5. Caforio Claudio
    Hi Ryan,

    In SAP BPC 7.0, it will be possible to use BI cubes (and not only MS SQL Server) or something very similar to SAP BI cubes with metadata for communicating with BPC application engine.

    In this version it will be possible to use also the planning functions (transfer, distribute…) of SAP BI 7.0? …. in other words …. can I use BPS0 and/or RSPLAN and so the powerful engine of SAP BI??

    Thank you in advance,
    Claudio

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi again Claudio,

      Obviously a large part of the functionality of BPC is the planning capabilities. BPC has it’s own functionality, which cover the types of functionality covered in those transactions (i.e. BPC has it’s own planning functions, locking mechanisms, data slices (called work status), etc).

      So those transactions you mentioned would only be relevant for a BPS or BI-IP implementations, not for BPC, because BPC will have it’s own methods of creating the equivalent type of functionality.

      Hope that helps clarify.

      Cheers,
      Ryan

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      1. Caforio Claudio
        Thank you Ryan,

        It’s partially exhaustive. The approach, as you know, is totally different … BI-IP has load on server system side (SAP BI), BPC actually on client (Excel with BPC engine + VBA)…

        If i’ll develop distributions and trasfer allocations now on BPC 5.1 it will be in good part on MS SQL side and in part for BPC local client.

        When I’ll have BI cubes in BPC 7.0 and not MS SQL,… my “server load” development will have an equivalent instrument on server side?

        Thank you again for your support, I know it’s very difficult and sometimes visionary 🙂

        Claudio

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        1. Ryan Leask Post author
          No problem Claudio 🙂

          I’m not sure if i understood your question correctly, but what you have said is correct. As you mentioned, you can also write server side scripts in BPC too. So when we move to BPC 7.0, there would also be server side scripts that would operate off the data in a NW BI cube.

          Cheers,
          Ryan

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  6. Daniel Goersch
    Hi Ryan

    Thank you for an interesting and very important blog. However, I’ve recently attended a presentation by Martin McCann (CPM Solution Principal SAP UK). He said that while IP and BCS will continue to be supported, there will no longer be significant functional enhancements, as the attention will be focused on BPC instead.

    What can we therefore tell organizations who plan greenfield implementations or for example contemplate migrating from BPS to IP?

    Kind regards
    Daniel Goersch

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Daniel,

      BCS is definitely continuing to be enhanced. We have put out quite a bit of new functionality in EhPII, and more enhancements are coming in EhPIII and in the future. The roadmap for BI-IP is unaffected by the BPC plans.

      For new implementations or upgrades, it of course depends on what the customer is looking for, but I would definitely recommend them to look at BPC. We are seeing a lot of customers going for this solution as it is generally a better fit to their requirements. You can of course feel comfortable going for BI-IP if that is the preferred choice – but I would recommend looking at BPC.

      Regards,
      Ryan

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  7. Fiona Lunt
    Unfortunately Prakash Darji has removed his detailed blog on this topic as it proved to be too confusing. I am in the process of assessing how we move forward with our planning tools. Currently we have built solutions in BW-BPS and SEM-BCS.

    We have a new project coming up which would fall into the BW-BPS area. I am trying to get to grips with what is the correct tool. From my understanding, only reading up about the subject.

    1. Migrating from BW-BPS to BI-IP is a rebuild, i.e. there are no automated tools for this ?

    2. The current version of BPC is not integrated with SAP Netweaver BI, but will be in Q2/2008 – assume this is June.

    3. BW-BPS is no longer being developed.

    Is it possible to get a simplified version of the blog BI-IP vs BPC

    Regards
    Fiona

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Fiona,

      Unfortunately we dont have a summarized/simplified version of the IP/BPC blog, as of today.

      Also, all the assumptions you mentioned are correct.

      Regards,
      Ryan

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  8. Anand Murthy
    Hello Ryan,

    Context:
    ========
    Timeline: I’m engaged in leading a Project around Planning & Scorecarding which is slated for go-live in the ’09 timeframe.

    Functionality: Based on fairly detailed evaluation, it has been determined that the final solution will demand extensive use of “Allocation” planning function to meet business requirements as the “Distribution” function has been determined to lack certain elements of flexibility that the solution requires.

    As such, we have to make some early calls on the application track that will be used.

    Questions:
    ==========
    1. My belief (based on experience, readings, discussions etc.) is that the Planning Function Type “Allocations” is currently only delivered with SEM-BPS, and not within either BW-BPS or BI-IP.
    Both BW-BPS and BI-IP have “Distribute by Key” and “Distribute by Reference Data”. Is my understanding accurate?
    2. If the above is true, is there a plan in place to create the “Allocation” function type in BI-IP and BPC? If yes, can you provide indicative timelines?
    3. If there is no current plan to address # 2 above; will my Project necessarily have to go with SEM-BPS for the parts that require “Allocation” and/ or create Custom Planning Function Types/ FOX within BI-IP/ BPC.

    Thank you for your guidance

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Anand,

      Your assumptions are correct, and I am not aware of any plans to roll the allocation function into BI-IP.

      I would however encourage you to look at the allocation functionality in BPC as well. If you are going to begin a new project today, this is definitely the path I would recommend investigating.

      Regards,
      Ryan

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  9. Ashish Shanker
    Ryan:

    Does BPC / MDX have a SQL equivalent of a data defintion language (DDL). For example, could I create applications, appSets, dimensions, measures, etc. programmatically?

    Regards

    Ashish

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Ashish,

      I apologize for the really length delay in my response – I have been extremely busy in the past few months.

      In short, there is not a clear API layer that would support creating these types of objects programmatically in BPC. We do have a client/server separation, so the Admin client in BPC is calling discrete functions exposed on the server – but these are not supported API’s that people could consume.

      Thanks, and sorry again about the delay.

      Ryan

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  10. Jimmy Reaves
    Ryan,

    I have heard rumors that ability to use MDX will be removed from BPC 7.0. Is there any truth to this? Also, I was hoping that you could either give me or point me to a list of likely changes to BPC for 7.0.

    Thanks,
    Jimmy

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Jimmy,

      As per previous posts – sorry about the delay!

      We are making heavy use of MDX internally in BPC 7.0, so it’s definitely not going away. Some EV formulas that are associated with MDX (like evENE, evPXR) won’t be available though if that’s what you might be referring to?

      We are getting pretty close to the end of development for BPC 7 now, so I (or someone in my team) will begin to put up more material on changes in functionality/architecture/etc soon – nothing is published as of today.

      Cheers,
      Ryan

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  11. Srinath Gampa
    We are comparing only SEM / BI-IP vs BPC only.

    As BPC consists of creation of its own cubes, Why can’t we have directly integrate R/3 to BPC and use for Reporting and also for planning & consolidation.

    In BPC 7.0 : You are going to integrate to BI, Is IT not the data duplicated in BI & BPC.

    Instead of that why can’t we get r/3 data directly into BPC cubes without going to BI Cubes and do reporting , planning & consolidation. (Assume that BI is not implemented sofar)

    Next, Can we have modified dual role extractors from R/3 to either BI OR BPC otherwise new extractors for BPC.

    Srinath

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  12. Sen Suparman
    Hi Ryan,

    Visual Composer is very powerfull to build a ‘nice-looking’ web-report (I think is much better than Web Application Designer in term of freely position the chart/graph/table/selection parameter in anywhere we like. We can’t have this flexibility in WAD) plus having strong capability to integrate to R/3 for posting some transactions (such as changing customer credit limit, approve PO, approve Sales Order, etc), so that the R/3 user won’t even have to know the TrxCode.

    My question for you is: can VC write plan data via Write-Enabled Query back to transactional cube ? Probably via data service (ex: Function module: API_SEMBPS_POST ?).
    If possible, could you please give some advice  how to achieve ?

    Many thanks,

    Sen

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    1. Ryan Leask Post author
      Hi Sen,

      I havent been working directly with VC in a while now, but I do know some work has been done on this. Please post your question to the forums and someone should be able to provide an update.

      Regards,
      Ryan

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      1. Vijay Vijayasankar
        Since VC can read and write using an RFC, I see no reason why this cannot be done technically. However, since the planning data needs to be interpreted correctly, the actual implementation might be complex. There are published APIs to write to a real time cube.
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  13. Zlatko Radisic
    Hi Ryan, another excellent blog. I see it was created Sep 2007.

    Please share any other updates to this information if you have it lately.

    For the PERFORMANCE side, we still use SEM scorecards & Management Cockpits, but we supplement them with Xcelsius, Flex, & BSPs custom presentations.

    For the PLANNING side, we still use SEM-BPS & BI integrated planning. Again, custom coding in various respects, allows us to supplement these tools.

    We, of course, still use and will forever use  SAP BW.

    Don’t really want to purchase totally new products for Performance or Planning, but would like to continue to leverage existing ones. i.e. we need to watch our ROI.

    Best regards.

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