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BW Business Content – Take it or Leave it? It’s like Capt. Picard vs. Capt. Kirk

I can’t decide whether I like BW Business Content or not.  I am 50-50.  It’s just like Star Trek: I can’t decide if I like Capt. Picard from Next Generation better than Capt. Kirk from the original Star Trek.

In my previous position at my previous employer, my first experience with using BW Business Content a few years ago was great – we used it for Budget Control System Funds Management.  It was one of the reasons we implemented BW as ECC did not support Funds Management hierarchical reporting and that was a customer requirement.  

We only had to add one extra field!  However, at the time, I was the “functional” analyst on the project and the BW developers had develop pages and pages functional specs to ensure the content was correct.  

At the same time, the BW developers turned on FI-AA business content with the asset master data and transactions without obtaining the requirements.  As the functional analyst, this was a nightmare.  Where were our custom fields?  The developer kindly gave me an article from SAPTips written by Pat Pesa, who explained the flows into the DSOs and the InfoCubes…but goodness, the compound characteristic of cost-center controlling area was driving me crazy in the BEx queries!!  Calling Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza: Serenity Now!!  This project was abandoned at this time.  FI-AA Business Content

My next experience was as a BW developer to try to use it with Plant Maintenance Business Content.  I tried and tried to get the preventive maintenance forecast hours by work centers to work with Business Content; it was a no-go.  I would have been better off starting the modeling exercise from scratch.  I ended up writing my own views to extract from to get the data needed from the maintenance plans and task lists.  I spent countless hours on this task!!

Then the next time we were implementing ECC 6.0 Travel Management; the requirement was to track how long the travel process worked; the driver of the entire travel project was to get the employee’s travel paid in less than 5 days.  BW was responsible for calculating and gathering this data.

I studied the Travel BW content and immediately decided the cubes would not work.  However, I could reuse the InfoObjects such as 0EMPLOYEE, traveler, location, city, etc.  So in a sense I was using Business Content.  The other challenge was, should this be a full or delta load?  After studying predicted data volumes, and looking at whether BW did delta or full loads for transactions.  I decided to do full loads as well.  I had to develop my own extractor using ABAP but at least I didn’t struggle with developing my own delta load.

The next project was to load training data from training & events management – the question was, who is taking our classes, and from what organizations?  Guess what?  Standard Business Content worked, and we were live in production in less than a month…what a timesaver, as the admin was manually gathering the statistics from several ECC reports.  I could also reuse the 0EMPLOYEE info object I activated as part of my Travel project.  A BW Business Content Success story, for sure!

Another project was to provide Warehouse Inventory reporting; there’s not much Business Content in WM, but at least I was able to reuse the 0MATERIAL infoobject.  Everything was custom after that.

There are dangers to Business Content; to the untrained, you could activate all sorts of Business Content you really don’t need or use (hello, xRPM BW Business Content?).

At the end of the day, I am still 50-50; I like being able to use the BW variable content for queries, the infoobjects, but the cubes/DSO’s/extractors are an entirely different story.  If you gather your requirements, do the use case analysis, prototyping, requirements reviews, technical reviews, then your project should be successful (another blog coming on this).  This was not done for the FI-AA Business Content project, and therefore it was a failure.

And as for Capt. Picard vs. Capt. Kirk…well, I am really a Worf gal myself (“let’s attack!”)Worf

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  • I love business content. Without it, I think most developers would need longer to figure out what information is available to analyze.

    However, I rarely use the DSOs, Cubes etc as they are delivered. I use them only as templates and invariably I do my own modelling. Queries and workbooks in BCT are awesome in blueprinting workshops. You can turn them on and have sample reporting to show using the ECC data – and this is a much faster way to get BI requirements than staring from scratch and using excel mockups.

    • Vijay,
      Thank you for responding.  In the past I eventually end up doing what you just said, but it takes a while to come to that realization.

      I love business content too, especially when it works like a snap such as with FM-BCS and HR-TEM. 

      However it’s a nightmare when your predecessors have activated way too much; in some cases, it’s difficult to recover from.  The struggle for me has come from working the Logistics side – the BW LIS has rarely worked for me.

      That’s why I am still 50-50. 


      • I agree with Vijay too. The Extractors and InfoObjects are most useful, the InfoProviders and Queries, not so. May be because the kind of metrics users need to measure are also specifically influenced by business rules and processes in that organisation.

        Tammy, since you mention xRPM, I need to say here that I wish they had taken the xRPM content another step or two further. It seems to be incomplete. We are using xRPM and I find it very interesting (I have been wading through the GUIDs :-), but getting the reports that the business needs has been quite challenging.


        • Hi Bhanu,
          Thank you for responding; I really struggled with xRPM.  Fortunately for me, the xRPM project itself was cancelled…


      • Hi Tammy

        Nice blog,
        My opinion about using BC is:
        1. using standart extractors with customer ext.
        2. using some standart characteristics
        3. custom data modelling.

        • Artem,
          Very concisely put…there are times when you can do it all without custom modeling (HR-TEM, FM-BCS are good examples) but otherwise, you are right.
      • Just came across your blog post, and it’s quite an interesting topic to read on.

        Personally, I would only activate BI content on a “needs-to” basis, rather than activate everything at one go.

        My only personal gripe about the BI content is that there is no official documentation (or is there?) citing which source fields are to be mapped to which InfoObjects in the DSOs/Cubes. Save for referring to table RSOSFIELDMAP, which I found after trying to google around… (but are the references in this table official?)

        Also, I would have to agree with what Raf mentioned below about the Logistics part – the LIS extractors has worked pretty well for me so far (except for the part about setup tables when you have enhanced the extraction structures). Again, this part seems to be very poorly documented by SAP…

        Thanks for the blog post!

        On a side note, does anyone know if there are any official guidelines on which version of BI Content release you can install, based on your NW version (e.g., EHP1 SP10, EHP2 etc)?

  • Hello Tammy,

    thanks for your blog. BW Content definitely has it’s pros and cons as you described. I believe, that you are missing one important point: Giving feedback to SAP! It does not help to complain about the content when it does not work or does not meet the business requirements. Unless we (SAP) get to know about those issues, nothing is going to change.

    Please collect your feedback on BW Content and pass it to SAP (in your case via ASUG). Please keep in mind that the content is implemented by each Business Suite / ERP application and not by BW development. Therefore the feedback needs to go to the corresponding ASUG Business Suite influence councils.

    Kind Regards,

    PS: Feedback works… check to see all the new developments and improvements we made in BW Content recently (and there’s a 7.05 release coming up with even more).

    • Hi Marc,
      Thank you for replying.

      My main reason for the blog was to explain why some ASUG members would like a webcast on BW Business Content best practices.  At Annual Conference, we heard from some of the ASUG Chapter Chairs (Ohio and PA) that they wanted a webcast on Business Content best practices and tips.

      This has worked, and a webcast is in the works.  After the webcast, I will definitely check into the influence councils.

      Many thanks for your response, suggestion and links.


    • In my mind, raising the issue on an SDN blog should be considered as good a feedback as any. I would think that SAP should “pull” feedback from any/all sources and act on it. And the fact that Marc did respond to the blog makes me believe that “pull” does work. 
  • Back in the BW2.0 days I was not in favor of Business Content, but since BW3.0 I find it more and more usefull. Whether you can use full BC (extractors, transformations, InfoProviders, reports, roles, …), mainly depends on how your source system is set up. I’m not going to start a discussion on that, but in a lot of projects thàt’s the real problem. Anyways, I think you should use at least BC extractors & InfoObjecs as much as possible. Anything else is kind of situation dependent I guess. On “clean” projects where the analysis parts “fails” (trust me, that latter part happens quite often), I usually set up an entire BC flow to see what I get out of the system (or to show the “analysts” what they’ll get out of the source system). Then you simply match it with the requirements and if necessary start fading away from BC InfoProviders.
    I personally find it strange that a lot of people “struggle” with the Logistics Workbench. The BC extraction works perfectly fine (except in very specific cases), however I have hardly ever used anything further than the extractors and the InfoObjects (but that was mainly due to the way the source system was set up).
    My advice, if you have a ZAP source system (instead of a SAP source system), don’t expect miracles from BC (which is actually rather obvious), else try to use as much BC (especially extractors and InfoObjects) as possible. It’ll make your life ànd the life of the people who come after you a lot easier.