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Beyond BPC Roadmap-Part I

In this article I will try and shed more light on details beyond roadmap of SAP BPC such as BPC terminologies, BPC modeling, future for BPC skills, future Netweaver versions,  BPC skills needed.

Future of SAP BPC

Let me start by saying the future of SAP BPC aka outlooksoft looks bright. The market for SAP BPC is four pronged.

 

  • 1. The current customer base that have implemented outlooksoft.
  • 2. The Business objects customer base who have implemented SRC or INEA.
  • 3. The current SAP customer base who have implemented SEM-BPS or IP
  • 4. The customer base who need a unified planning and consolidation platform can implement consolidation in BPC. 

 

Evolution of SAP BPC Netweaver

 

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SAP BPC 5 (Microsoft version)

Outlooksoft 5 was re-branded and sold as SAP BPC 5 after SAP acquired outlooksoft.  This version of BPC runs only on MS SQL server.

The BPC user interfaces are through BPC for office or BPC for Web. The BPC for office includes:

  • BPC for excel
  • BPC for word
  • BPC for Powerpoint

BPC for excel is where majority of the action is. Some of the things you can do here are

  • Create reports using classic templates or EVDRE functions
  • Create input schedules to take user inputs using classic templates or EVDRE functions
  • Use data managers to load data
  • Offline planning

Classic templates are like having business content in reports. This I say strictly from a perspective of report layout. For example a trend report may have time in columns, and  a consolidation report may have Account is rows. So by having a template you have a starting point. This also is possible because of a concept called current view. A current view is defined outside the report in a toolbar where you specify the dimension values. The values of dimensions in current view determine the data you see in the report. In the report layout you can specify overrides to the values in the current view.

Classic templates use a bunch of EV functions which are pretty powerful and easy to use. As outlooksoft evolved a more powerful function called EVDRE was introduced. Through EVDRE you can do pretty much all the things you did with those bunch of EV functions. EVDRE was also better in the sense it generated a much more efficient SQL/MDX.

 

Some BPC 5 Terminologies

1. Application Set: We have the Application Set within which all BPC objects are included. They are equal to a MS Analysis services database. Normally you will have one Application Set for Development one for Quality and one for Production. There are certain limitation which may force you to create multiple Application Set, for example there can be only 20 dimensions in an Application Set.

Appshell is standard Application Set out of the box which you clone and create your Application Set.

2. Application: Application Set can have multiple applications. Fundamentally there are 2 types of applications these are reporting and non-reporting. Reporting application can be Financial, Consolidation, Generic. At the end of the day Application are cubes in MS Analysis Services.

3. Dimension: Each Application can have multiple dimensions. Dimension can be flat or hierarchical. This depicts the relationship of its members. Dimensions are shared across applications. Dimensions of certain dimension types are required for every application and there are also specific dimensions needed for certain application types.

4. Properties: They are nothing but attributes of Dimensions and they describe a Dimension. There are some predefined properties.

5. Members: They are values of a Dimension.

6. Fact table: Data is stored here and is associated with a member from each of the dimension in an application. Each application has a writeback table, fact2 table and a fact table. Ultimately all data will be stored in fact table. There is a process called optimization which will move data from writeback to fact2, fact2 to fact.

Lite Optimization: Moves data from writeback to fact2 and can be done without  taking the system down.

Incremental optimization: Moves data from fact2 to fact.

Full optimization: Is incremental + processing of Dimensions.

7. Input Schedules are excel layouts that accept user inputs. Pretty much like a report that accepts inputs from users.

 

Some BPC 5 Data modeling concepts

BPC 5 is based on star schema. This means Dimensions are shared between applications.

The data model of the application is Account based and not keyfigure based. You only have one keyfigure. What a value stands for is determined by the value of the Account Dimension it relates to.

There are inbuilt logic which assigns positive or negative signs based on the Account type property of the Account dimension.

 

Logic

When data is sent to the database from the input schedules it will pass through default script file. This is where you can write your code which needs to be executed each time you hit save after you key values in input schedules. If the logic needs to be executed whenever you want then you write your code in logic files other than default file and execute them through datamanager. The Logic language is a proprietary SQL code and MDX. The logic file are .lgf files and they create a .lgx on compiling. The Default.lgf file is the default script file. You can create other .lgf files and use them as includes in default.lgf or run them through data manager.

 

Some skills good to have for BPC 5

  1. Strong business acumen and education in Finance will be helpful
  2. Excellent data modeling skills
  3. Excellent BPC frontend skills (proficient with EV functions)
  4. SQL server skills like DTS and SSIS
  5. MDX and proprietary SQL language skills
  6. VB for Excel skills
  7. Excel Skills

 

SAP BPC 7NW(Netweaver version)

BPC 7NW is the first Netweaver version of this product and is to be available for general shipment 1H of 2009. The Ramp up is currently underway. So some of the details I list below may change.

A person working with BPC 5 will not see any change in the user interface offered by the BPC 7NW version. The user interface is the same look and feel but beneath the hood is where all the changes lie. Yup, it is a change you can believe in.

There are features like BPF which are in BPC 5 which will not be in the initial netweaver version of the product and in the same way there are some features in BPC 7NW not in BPC 5.

 

Some BPC 7.0 NW Terminologies

1. BI will be the backend for BPC 7x. This means all objects are created in BI.

2. When we create an Application Set through the GUI it really creates an Infoarea

3. When we create an Application we are really creating a transactional Cube.

4. When we create a dimension we are really creating an InfoObject

5. Properties become attributes of InfoObject

6. Security and lock management will be driven through BI functionality.

7. Datamanager will kickoff processchains. There will be new process types for BPC.

8.All BPC objects will be created in BI in CPMB namespace.

 

Some BPC 7.0 NW Data modeling concepts

This is classic extended star schema. Account based modeling is only possible currently.

 

Logic

Things are not clear at this time if logic will be written in ABAP or MDX/SQL. It looks like SAP is leaning towards using ABAP.

 

 Some skills good to have for BPC 7.0 NW

  1. Strong business acumen and education in Finance will be helpful
  2. Excellent data modeling skills
  3. Excellent BPC frontend skills (proficient with EV functions)
  4. Excellent SAP BI skills including SEM/IP
  5. ABAP skills
  6. VB for Excel skills
  7. Excel skills

 

SAP BPC 7.5NW(Netweaver version)

This will be the version where integration between BPC and Business object is expected to happen.

 

SAP BPC 8.0NW (Netweaver version)

This will be the version where both frontend and the backend will be unified across all products within the EPM aka FPM suite.

 

BPC Strategy

The current SAP position regarding BPC is very simple. SAP recommends using BPC for all future planning projects. SAP has clearly taken a position that BPC will be the planning toolset within SAP landscape in the future. Integrated Planning will be a planning engine. SEM-BPS is already not enhanced anymore and we can say it is in maintenance mode.

What this means is, if the client has no content for business planning currently then they should implement planning content in BPC only. If they are already invested in SEM-BPS/IP they can switch over to SAP BPC at the appropriate time they feel comfortable but before these products are phased off.

8 Comments
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    • I am sorry I am not privy to when it will be introduced exactly. I will not be surprised if it is introduced later by a support pack in this version.
  • You have indeed given a very exhaustive update on BPC. Thanks a ton. Really we are all excited about this product but concerned about the long delay in getting a unified solution with BI backend.  Your input on required skill set is very apt and hence, we, accountant, need to improve our skill set more technically. As a whole, you have painted a rosy picture. But we need to know about your concerns also, if any, in order to know make ourselves comfortable in handling RFP on BPC.
    • It is important to note from skill sets perspective, that people from business need not know all the skills I listed above only few of those skills are relevant. I dont expect them to know ABAP etc.

      A person leading a BPC NW implementation should know most of them. Also there are going to be different folks filling different roles in real life.

      Regards
      Ganesan

  • Hi,

    Thanks for this excellent compilation. I am little upset to hear that BPF is not going to be part of BPC 7.0 initial release. Till date we were using BPF as the main differentiator while comparing BPC with other products during our client presentations. Hope SAP releases a BPC version with additional functionalities enchanced to earlier BPF version.

    regards,
    Lokesh Nandula

  • Hi there:
    I haven’t seen any news, but am wondering whether SAP will package BPC MS version as a stand-alone product for non-SAP ERPs in SMB (i.e. MAS200, MACOLA). It seems to me that as long as an ERP has flat-file export functionality (which I believe most of them do), it can utilize BPC’s environment for planning and analyzing.

    Thank you!