SAP BPC going through a sea of ideological changes. Firstly the tool was built with a different perspective and development standard. From its birth ‘Outlooksoft’ was positioned more towards from a business centric view. Gradually it created a niche for itself but one fine day SAP has acquired it and positioned it as the ‘tool to go’ for Financial Consolidation & Planning.
The classical SAP folks, who were more used to the old ECCS, SEM-BPS, BW-BPS, BI-IP, SEM-BCS tools will find it radically different from its onset. The service oriented architecture model in comparison to the ‘technically robust, training intensive’ is bound to create a gear shift in the world of SAP-Consolidation & Planning.
Not only this, as SAP trying to make ‘Outlooksoft/BPC’ more SAPiezed, by creating two separate parallel version of BPC (we know it an ‘N’ for NetWeaver & ‘M’ for Microsoft) – it is important to understand the consulting partner’s look ahead to serve the client thoughtfully.
In this series of article, I am going to walk you through the BPC – Implementation best practices from an architect point of view. In the part 1, we will cover the general discussion and in future parts we will deep dive into Consolidation, Planning etc.
Point # 1: Software positioning & strategizing:
SAP – BPC is based on 2 key points.
- a. Service oriented architecture – Business Driven. ‘Flexibility’.
- b. Microsoft technology based platform.
The way I see BPC as a tool is a ‘close knit controlled combinations of several excel objects connected by a well defined SQL/MDX based business logic’. The first time, I looked at BPC, I was looking for all those technical robustness SAP BI has or the pre-defined Business rule SEM-BPC has. In fact, when I realized, there are no standard BAPIs, extractors (remember 0FIGL_10), no STS (transport system) – I was quite disheartened. But if you see the tool from a business user’s angle, you will be amazed. The toll is so flexible.
Always remember, the best thing, the best saleable feature BPC posses, is its ‘Flexibility’. It might not have all the other technical advancement like other SAP tools, but the amount of flexibility, and comfortably it provides to a native Finance user is unmatched. Never compromise on this.
In a SAP based environment, the only options you have right now (Jan’09) to install BPC is its version 5.1. The BPC 7.0 version is still at its ramp-up stage. There are some projects which are the ramp-up customer for this right now but generally 5.1 is the version you should concentrate. The SAP BPC 5.1 is a Microsoft based tool, it uses ‘SQL server’ as its basis. Remember, mostly in the SAP BPC environment you need to do some work on SQL and not everything will be readily available. So in your implementation team you got’ a have resource(s) who can work on –
SQL server Management Studio (equivalent to RSA1) à priority 1
SQL server Integration Services (Data Flow controller – Remember BI process chain) à priority 2
SQL server Analysis Services (OLAP world) à low priority
Internet Information Services (Web application server) à low priority
If you planning to use the new version of SAP BPC (7.0), you have 2 options – ‘N’ & ‘M’. Now before you choose the route for your implementation(s) – hold back and understand –
Pro’s & Con’s of the two BPC versions.
Which one fits your companies need?
All the SAP savvy technical group will jump into the BPC ‘N’ versions, but consider the facts where this is pretty new integration model. Also the backend is getting integrated to SAP-BI model. This is good from the point of view of the SAP CC team. But one of the premier salability of BPC as a tool is/was ‘less dependency on IT’. With this, ‘N’ version this might be severely compromised. Does your company really needs that? In future, I will discuss more on this topic about when to choose which version.
Lastly consider you reporting tool. You can use BPC’s reporting feature fully and can house 100% of your report there. You also have an option of using your old reporting tool or SAP reporting tool (BI). Whatever the option you choose, make sure there is a clean & thoughtful segregation report housing strategy. When you have some report coming from BPC & some coming from outside BPC, make sure you have decided about the reconciliation, migration & sequencing strategy clearly defined. I have seen multiple occurrences when there is not so clear reporting disposition strategy between BPC and non-BPC reporting tool.