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Thanks for going through the previous blog and posting questions. I request you to please post the question in the same thread as the blog and not email it to me so that other readers may also get benefited. I will though answer the questions already posted and will put them later in the blog.

My intention is to take small steps, and with slow and steady pace carry forward the main theme “Clear the mist from SAP BI/BOBJ Integration Scenarios”. Thus I am structuring my posts in a way that they go along with the main scenario.

Question from the last post- “How to decide on what to use between Crystal and Webi? The obvious answer is not the complete answer :-)”

The simple and obvious answer: 
 Webi is used for adhoc reporting scenarios where users are able to carry out their own analysis by creating adhoc reports based on their needs at that particular moment. Webi reports are easy to create (simple drag and drop with intuitive UI) and with very basic training users are able to create the reports on their own, thus reducing the load on IT department.
 Crystal is used in operational reporting scenarios where printer pretty pixel perfect reports are required. Crystal is a developer tool and access for creating the reports is limited to IT department or super users who are comfortable with database and have taken significant training on crystal.

Answer based on my experience with different clients:
During the Reporting Requirement phase I always try to find with my users- is the Adhoc reporting requirement (they have come up with) really Adhoc? Mostly it is not. The first supporting reason users come up with is that they should be able to report on anything at anytime. But on probing further they tend to come up with details on what fields they would like to see first and then based on that information what additional details they would like to see in the report and then maybe they would like to look at some additional data from another functional area based on few fields in the current navigational report. And not always they would come all the way to the final navigation state.
Thus it is a Predefined drilldown scenario and not a true adhoc one. In such scenario a Crystal Report would be a right fit as the report can be created with a layout in a printer friendly format as well as based on certain fields additional information can be requested from another functional area (within the same crystal report).  The best part it can be prescheduled thus it doesn’t put a run time load on the BI/BOBJ server. Users are also happy with a pretty report and also because they don’t have to wait for results.
Though for a true adhoc scenario definitely a Webi report should be used.

 Continuing from my last post-
Let’s have a look at the first point in detail- “Why it is very important to find with the users their reporting needs at a little detailed level, not in terms of what information is requested, rather how they want to analyze and look at the information.”
The BI/BOBJ suite of reporting tools today is comprised of Webi, Crystal, BEx Analyzer, BEx Query Designer, Voyager and Xcelcius. I am excluding Web Application Designer and Report Designer intentionally from this list based on the future roadmap provided by SAP. But still these tools are being used at numerous clients and will continue to be supported by SAP for a long time. For new scenarios though I would not recommend using these.
First and the most important point to remember before we look at these products in detail is that- to address all different kind of reporting needs from all different kinds of users in an organization no single tool can be the right fit. What a crystal report can do, a webi can’t do; what a Voyager can do a crystal report can’t do; etc. Thus never try to position one tool or even two reporting tools as an answer for all reporting needs.
Try to find what a user wants and then try to position a product as an answer:
1)      A report which can be published for legal/financial purpose having a fixed layout as per the external standard template- Crystal can do it best
2)      A report on which multi dimensional analysis is needed- BEx Analyzer or Voyager is the right tool
3)      A report which has to be created for adhoc analysis and for the casual business user- Webi is the right fit
4)      A dashboard for the KPIs- Xcelsius is the right tool
 
In the next post I would be discussing about the Crystal capabilities and usage with real life examples so as to make it clear which are the right scenarios to position Crystal.
 

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4 Comments

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  1. Alexander Schuchman
    I’ve had this same discussion within my organization and used your same points.  It was nice to see that I’m not alone in my “find the best tool for the specific job you are trying to accomplish” mantra.
    Everyone is so quick to ask how long it would take to develop this report in WebI, that they forget to ask the simple questions…like what columns do you want in the report…what would you like to drill down by?…the basics.

    I would also like to add that some cases are still best suited with a BI Analyzer or BI Web Report.  Not all user communities need this new toolset immediately(long term yes, once Pioneer is in full force).  I dislike when people resist proven solutions because they aren’t new technology.  New isn’t always better.
    -Alex

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    1. Amit Bhatnagar Post author
      Yes Alex you are absolutely correct. BEx Analyzer still has a pretty strong use case for multidimensional reporting scenario in BW-BOBJ integrated world. Pioneer release date is somewhere around H2 next year, till then no urgency is there. It has to be totally driven based on reporting needs.
      Please let me know if you have any particular use case to share and discuss.
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      1. Amit Bhatnagar Post author
        Vitaliy you are absolutely correct in commenting that the general issue with BW was the look and feel. That’s seems to be one of the prime reason behind BO’s acquisition.
        About your other comments I would say it is more about the difference in perspective- the way one looks at the different tools, and more importantly who is the person looking at the tools- is the person a simple user, an analyst, an architect, a manager, a sales guy or a CXO?
        And yes with this new integration and new collective capabilities definitely nothing should be excluded out of the reporting requirement discussion.
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    2. Witalij Rudnicki
      As time goes, I realize that BEx is actualy very powerful and flexible suite, but the issue – I think general issue in SAP’s BW – was the users’ look and feel.

      Looking at what has been said: “The BI/BOBJ suite of reporting tools today is comprised of Webi, Crystal, BEx Analyzer, BEx Query Designer, Voyager and Xcelcius.”, I have following comments:
      1/ I think we should stop calling BI tools “reporting tools”. Word “reporting” immediately narrows business perception of what they are going to get
      2/ I would not classify BEx Query Designer as a reporting or BI tool. It is designers’ tool, that does not have its own output (it is webtemplate based output, unles we are talking about List output in RSRT 😉
      3/ Once discussing *reporting* needs, we should not exclude standard ECC reports or CRM searches from the list – often it is all business need to satisfy their information requirements.

      Nice blog overall!

      Thanks,
      -Vitaliy

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