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This is my first blog on SDN and I’ve decided to start off by attempting to set the record straight on the fairly hot topic of consolidation and SAP’s strategy in this area following the acquisition of Business Objects which saw us bring together 3 solutions in this space:

  • SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (formerly OutlookSoft)
  • BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation (formerly Cartesis)
  • SAP SEM BCS

Before I get into the detail however I think its only right to set the scene a little…

On February 12th, 2008, Business Objects, an SAP company published the new roadmap for our EPM applications and while some argued that this took longer than they expected, this was in fact the result of very extensive research by our various product teams and incorporated the feedback of numerous customers and industry analysts including Gartner, IDC and Forrester.

Unlike some of our competitors, Business Objects decided to take some tough decisions early and as a result rationalize the EPM product set in order to allow us to drive not only integration but also innovation into our product strategy.  As part of this product strategy we will optimize our applications for both SAP and non-SAP environments, drive integration between the EPM applications, our governance, risk and compliance applications (GRC) and the Business Objects BI Platform, and subsequently extend beyond finance by adding additional capabilities to measure and optimize operational performance.

This may sound like a lofty goal but this is a strategy that will be fulfilled by our roadmap over the next 3 years and is one that we are already delivering on with the release of EPM 7.0, a move which according to Gartner proves we are executing on our commitments. According to Gartner “Business Objects is building a strong vision around its combination of BI, performance management applications and GRC”. 

The fact is this vision is not only unique and one that our competitors cannot even contemplate delivering (as they don’t have all the component parts) but is made possible only by our decision to rationalize the EPM product set.  Understandably however rationalization is not an easy process and in order to achieve this we have two guiding principles; that no customer will be left behind and that all customer investments will be protected.   

Now we understand the strategy we can turn our attention back to consolidations…

The aim of the rationalization was to select a single application in each EPM domain on which we would deliver our vision, something we achieved in all cases except the consolidation market. Here the breadth of our customer base in this space meant that we wanted to take a multi-product strategy in order to continue to meet our existing and future customers’ needs.   Now before certain parties start chastising us for this decision I would like to point out that there is not a single vendor in the leader’s quadrant of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Corporate Performance Management that doesn’t also have a multi-product strategy in this space, SAP is at least being upfront about that.

So let me state the facts clearly:

  • To meet the demands of our customers in all sectors of the market and provide them with the optimal consolidation applications based upon their needs, Business Objects, an SAP company will continue to support and sell both SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (formerly OutlookSoft) and BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation (formerly Cartesis)
  • Both applications are best in class and leading solutions for their respective target market segments
  • Both fully support complex calculations and both applications cover all the basic consolidation requirements
  • SAP SEM BCS is supported through 2013 with options on extended support to 2016. SEM BCS will also continue to receive enhancements required for legal/statutory changes through 2013.

I thought it would also make sense to share some of the common questions that we have received in relation to our consolidation applications strategy along with our formal responses to them.

Question: I currently use SAP SEM BCS. What should I do now?

Answer: You don’t have to do anything.  Your current application is still supported with legal enhancements and enhancement packs through 2013 with options on extended support to 2016. 

Question: I am currently evaluating consolidation applications but how do I know which application to consider?

Answer: The decision on which application is most suited to a given customer is specific to the customers use case and requirements. Both applications are market leading solutions which meet all the standard consolidation requirements and are being sold worldwide. Business Objects has developed a decision tree framework and team of consolidation experts to help our Account Executives and Solution Engineers review a customer’s consolidation requirements, roadmap and infrastructure to recommend the best solution to meet the customer needs and deliver the biggest return on investment for that customer.

Question: When would you recommend SAP Business Planning and Consolidation?

Answer: SAP Business Planning and Consolidations is ideal for customers requiring strong financial consolidation capabilities tightly integrated with planning, budgeting and forecasting.  This is a key differentiator for SAP Business Planning and Consolidation and a unique proposition in the market.  SAP Business Planning and Consolidation also serves as the ideal solution for those that prefer their consolidation application run on the SAP NetWeaver platform.

Question: When would you recommend BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation?

Answer: Our analysis has identified a number of scenarios and use cases, often process related where customers will benefit from BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation.  For example BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation suits large multinational customers with complex consolidation requirements and/or a highly distributed consolidation infrastructure e.g. data entry / validation, audit / controls, mgmt of consolidations at local / corporate centre.

Question: What is overall roadmap for EPM at Business Objects, an SAP company and how do the consolidation applications feature in it?

Answer: Both SAP Business Planning and Consolidation and Business Objects Financial Consolidation form a strategic part of the overall EPM roadmap and feature in the latest release of EPM 7.0 and in the future 7.5  and 8.0 releases as stand alone applications.  Released in August 2008, EPM 7.0 honors existing customer commitments and introduces the first phase integration with the Business Objects BI platform and SAP NetWeaver.  Release 7.5, expected in 2009, supports additional enhancements to all products, extends integration with Business Objects BI platform and SAP NetWeaver and introduces integration across both the EPM and GRC product sets.

Question: What integration plans exist for both consolidation applications into Business Objects BI?

Answer: Integration between BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation and BusinessObjects BI has already been delivered in the 7.0 release.  This includes full integration with the Business Objects Enterprise platform.  This integration allows users and connections to be managed from the central BusinessObjects Enterprise environment to simplify overall administration and allow users to report and analyze information from additional sources other than BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation. Further it will leverage the collaboration and search functionality of BusinessObjects Enterprise and as well will provide  support for all Business Objects front-end tools including Crystal Xcelsius for dashboards, BusinessObjects Web Intelligence for ad-hoc reporting and BusinessObjects Live Office for integration with Microsoft Office.  Similar integration is planned for SAP Business Planning and Consolidation in the 7.5 release. 

Question: What integration plans exist for both consolidation applications into SAP NetWeaver BI?

Answer: With the 7.0 release of SAP Business Planning and Consolidation we are introducing a brand new version of the product which is integrated with the NetWeaver BI platform. The official name for this release is SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver.  The release is currently going through the Ramp-up process which is expected to last approximately 6 months.  Furthermore the 7.5 release of BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation will allow customers to export consolidated financial information to NW BI for additional reporting and analysis.

Summary

This blog represents the ‘official SAP answers’ on this topic. Anybody who contradicts a statement made above may be misinformed, so please direct them to come here and read this blog!

I fully expect there to be many more questions on the precise content of future releases and rest assured that we will be providing more and more information as and when we are able to do so.

However, I hope I was able to clear up any confusion, and this helps answer some of the big questions you might have had.

James Fisher

Senior Director Solution Marketing

Enterprise Performance Management

SAP

james.fisher@sap.com

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7 Comments

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  1. LOKESH NANDULA
    Hi James,

    Thank you very much for an excellent blog. I think it is the most widely discussed topic now among SEM/FPM fraternity.

    A matrix which compares these three products with the customer’s consolidation requirements will be very useful if available on this SDN space (as a white paper or article)….. something similiar to the decision tree framework you mentioned above.

    thanks/regards,
    Lokesh Nandula

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    1. James Fisher Post author
      Hi Lokesh and thanks for the feedback.  SAP has invested in a comprehensive review of the three applications and from this we have prepared a range of materials which are avaliable to customers through their account teams. That said the detailed comparisions are not being published. Instead we have created a global SWAT team of consolidation experts who are trained to help customers make the appropriate decisions and define their future strategy and we recommend customers engage this team through their Account Executive.
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  2. Selva Nayagam
    Hello James,

    Thanks for the blog. Please find below a statement from SAP’s definitive strategy for planning technologies moving forward: What’s the word on BPC, BI-IP and SRC? by Ryan Leask, Director, BPC Solution Management.

    Quote:
    SAP has published a Statement of Direction, which answers this question best:

    “In evaluating Business-Objects Planning XI (formerly an SRC Software product) and Business-Objects Planning Extended (formerly an INEA product), it was determined that SAP Business Planning and Consolidation was a superior solution and provided better functionality overall. Customers using Business Objects planning products can migrate to SAP Business Planning and Consolidation for all of their planning, budgeting, and forecasting needs. SAP is currently developing offerings to aid with database migration and user authorization conversion and the standard planning methodologies to help with the migration to SAP Business Planning and Consolidation.”
    End Quote.

    Your blog seems to recommend evaluating both BPC and BO FP. Is there a shift in SAP’s strategy?

    Please correct me if I was not correct in understanding your statement. I am looking forward to your response.

    Best regards,

    Selva Nayagam.

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    1. James Fisher Post author
      Thanks for the comments Selva.  No there is no shift in strategy and Ryan’s blog is accurate.  Ryan’s blog looks specifically at how we would address customers planning, budgeting and forecasting requirements and his blog correctly recommends SAP Business Planning and Consolidation to meet these needs.  My blog is focused specifically on consolidation and reporting requirements and here we have two options, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation and Business Objects Financial Consolidation depending on the use case and whether or not a unified planning and consolidation application is required.  The Business Objects solution is a pure consolidation application and does not support planning, budgeting and forecasting. Hope that helps.
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  3. David Velasquez
    Hi James,

    I am participating in a new ERP implementation, wich includes aditionally Consolidation, because it is a Canadian Corporate Group. We mentioned the 2 new products for consolidation to our customer, but he likes to use BCS, arguing it is a mature product and that BPC and BO financial consolidation are not. Is it valid to implemet BCS in a new project? What would we recomend to our customer to do?

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    1. James Fisher Post author
      Hi David, thanks for the question.  SEM BCS is a supported solution and it is indeed mature. However strategically our stated direction for new implementations is either SAP Business Planning and Consolidation or BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation depending on the customers requirements.  Both may be relatively new solutions to SAP but both are mature in their own right, and are used by some of the world’s largest organisations including some of the largest SAP customers. See http://www.sap.com/epm for customer stories and case studies. The key here is that both these solutions form part of a broader strategic EPM solution set, where integration betwen the EPM applications, into SAP ERP and SAP Netweaver, and the integrtaion with Business Objects BI and SAP GRC will ofer additional value to customers.
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