Where does SAP Strategy Management (SSM) fit in the at large Business Intelligence/Business Objects landscape?
There is not a day that goes by where I am not asked this question at least once. Given the changes in the SAP and Business Objects landscape it is very understandable. So what is the answer?
A lot can be inferred by looking at the name; SAP Strategy Management. – SAP – meaning it was part of SAP prior to the acquisition of Business Objects, Strategy – Its focus is on entire organization, business unit, team business objectives. Management – The ability to easily manage stated business goals and their related objects, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Initiatives.
The SSM solution came to SAP via the Pilot Software acquisition in February of 2007 and has been chosen as the go forward product for the newly combined Business Objects an SAP Company in the area of Strategy Management/Scorecarding. The solution is part of the Financial Performance Management set of offerings which include SSM, SAP Business Planning and Consolidations, and BusinessObjects Profitability and Cost Management. The idea behind the suite is to create a closed loop integrated system (referred to as a Closed Loop Management System by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton in Mastering the Management System – Harvard Business Review February 2007) for organizations to Strategize, Plan, and Adapt that is owned and maintained by business users.
SAP Strategy Management at its core is simple. It integrates Business Goals/Objectives, Initiatives, the projects we put in place to achieve the goals, and Metrics, the individual sets of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that map to business goals to align all levels of an organization. Think of the alignment piece as making strategy relevant for each level. At the corporate level strategy is focused on the big picture goals of Profit, Cost, Customer Focus, etc. but as you cascade that down it often becomes more specific per line of business/team. For example an Automotive Manufacturer may be focused on Achieving Profitable Growth at the corporate level by monitoring KPIs like Direct Profit, Avg Cost per Sale, etc. but within the Manufacturing/Production team itself they may be focused on the Process of production and its related costs (Avg Time to Build, $ of Scrap, etc) which does relate back to Achieving Profitable Growth…relevance/context is key.
I believe ‘business context’ is the easiest way to distinguish SAP Strategy Management from the traditional set of Business Intelligence solutions offered by SAP and Business Objects an SAP Company. It allows an organization to discuss its Key Performance Indicators’ in the context of the business goals and Initiatives while linking to the underlying set of operational metrics via Dashboards and Reports that drive the Strategies and their associated KPIs. This is not to say that Xcelsius, Web Intelligence, Voyager, etc. do not provide useful business information but the information provided/culled out of these tools often help us begin to answer questions like why is Direct Profit not meeting expectations or Operationally what is the Avg time is it taking to build XYZ Vehicle piece/section 59. These are metrics/items monitored on operational dashboards but these dashboards often lack the business context of why do we care about this metric in the first place and what are we doing to improve it.
So where does SAP Strategy Management fit in you ask? It sits on top of the Business Intelligence Platform and Information Discovery and Delivery tools to help provide organizational alignment in a business context.