As part of the BI Expert teams for the “Dear aBI” gives advice on Business Intelligence, here another set of answers to some of the questions that have been put forward and this time I must say that I really liked the set of questions and especially was looking forward to provide my point of view on this.
Russel (BI COCT) from Cape Town is asking the following question:
I am BI Architect at the City of Cape Town – Public sector.
We run a SAP BI Netweaver 7.0 shop.
We have recently impelmented the BOBJ XI 3.1 suite – including Xcelsius, WEBI, Crystal Reports, Voyager but excluding Polestar. I am busy formulating a Staregy to impelment BOBJ and replace exisiting BEx toolset and reports availabel to business users.
We plan to define projects to deliver on the Strategy defined going forward.I have two main questions:
1. BOBJ Strategy definition and conversion of SAP BI reporting to BOBJ toolset We need strategic guidance on which tool to use for specific applications.
Xcelsius is being and will be used for dashboard requirements – replacing BEx WAD – but it is not clear how the other tools should be implemented. Although there are shortcomings in Xcelsius – see Comment example below.We currently use the BEx suite as follows:
– Pack reporting – BEx Analyser – should we do this in Live Office or Crystal reports?Currently the advice received / thinking is that this depends upon the current delivery mechanism. Live Office will generally still require you to create the Crystal Reports. Deliver with Live Office if the current board pack is delivered using MS Office. If the reports are currently printed out and then collated, then use Crystal Reports.Packs are complex and often governed by Government templates e.g. Treasury submissions
– BEx Web reporting via SAP Enterprise Portal – is currently used for static and analytical reporting.
Which BOBJ tool should be used i.e. Do we use WEBI, Voyager or Crystal reports. Or a combination. And how do we go about converting from BEx Web to the relevant tool? The new Pioneer product will likely be the replacement for analytical reporting. Should we still use BEx Web until this is released.
For more ad hoc requirements and providing a self service capability, then you should consider using Web Intelligence.
– Dash boards via BEx WAD – to be replaced by Xcelsius – but will have to address shortcomings. Ideally we need assistance from a resource that has an indepth understanding of both SAP BI front end tools and BOBJ tools. Essentially SAP BI tools have functionality that is not available “standard” in BOBJ Examples being:
– Report to report interface – link one BEx web template, query or cube to another web template, query. This is a simple 2 step process with no coding required. This is complex to achieve in WEBI and a little less complex in Xcelsius.
– Comment functionality – we have current available SAP BI commenting functionality which cannot be replaced standard by BOBJ – feedback we have got from SAP is we should create a database and writing to it. This is a custom as opposed to standard solution. We will require external resources potentially to do custom development – This means that there will be an additional cost – with no available budget.. challenging.
Question is why would we convert from a WAD application with standard BI comment functionality to a solution where we have to do custom programming?
BOBJ is supposed to minimise IT involvement not increase it.
The BPC has been pitched as the ultimate commenting solution but is also not an option as we do not yet have it at the City.
Answer could be – remain with WAD applications until we have BPC?
2. SAP BI / BOBJ Road map understanding and impact – gain access to developers involved in development of the BOBJ/BEx toolset (Pioneer) to understand the impact of decisions we make now.
For example if we deploy Voyager now what re-work will be required? Should we deploy now or wait etc? Look forward to your feedback.
Which BI Client to use When
First of all I would like to say that I really do appreciate that you take the time as part of your BI project to focus on the question of “which tool to use when”, because this is a very important and fundamental question. I think the best way to outline the best possible usage of each available BI client tool is to use a set of common use cases and requirements. I tried to outline my thoughts here in this presentation and I hope that this presentation helps answering the questions around which tool to use when.
I would also like to highlight the SAP TechED session BI160 in Berlin or Las Vegas here, where you will have the opportunity to experience four of the SAP BusinessObjects BI Clients in a 2 hours hands-on session.
Very often “Pack reporting” means that the customer would like to create a package of reports, which are scheduled and viewed togehter. Assuming the underlying requirements of your reports to fit a Crystal Reports based content, I would suggest you take a look at the Report Package which is possible as part of BusinessObjects Enterprise and has been created for those kind of requirements and allows you to combine a set of reports into a single package for scheduling and viewing.
Business Explorer Analyzer (BEx Analyzer) or Voyager or Advanced Analysis Office
As you indicated already yourself in the question, Advanced Analysis Office is the replacement for BEx Analyzer and you can find an overview presentation here.
The recommendation here for SAP NetWeaver BW based customers is to leverage today BEx Analyzer and to move to Advanced Analysis Office as soon as it fits your project cycle. Advanced Analysis Office is currently in RampUp and will be released on top of the SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.1 platform very soon.
Dashboards and Web Application Designer (WAD)
I could imagine you have some requirements in this area where Xcelsius will be a perfect fit because those requirements are more of the nature of data visualization. But on the other hand it is clear that you also have requirements which I would categorize more like a BI application building where today the Web Application Designer is the “go-to” tool for SAP customers. This direction has not changed and the Web Application Designer is also today the recommendation for such scenarios and you could also integration content from SAP BusinessObjects BI systems into your application. For the future it is planned to provide a Analytical Application Development Kit and you should see more details on this topic very soon in the Advanced Analysis Area here in the BusinessObjects community and at TechED in Las Vegas or Berlin.
For the previous two topics I would like to highlight the two sessions around Advanced Analysis at the upcoming TechED in Berlin and Las Vegas.
Additional Functionality : Comments and Report Report Interface
In addition you mentioned the functionality of creating comments as part of your current BI tool set and to leverage the Report Report Interface. Here I would like to point to the next major release of the SAP BusinessObjects platform (XI 4.x) where especially the topic around product interoperability is being started to get adressed withnew functionality where a user can start the analysis workflow in Advanced Analysis and then share the findings in Crystal Reports or Web Intelligence.
SAP BI and BusinessObjects roadmap understanding and BI Strategy
Russell, in your last paragraph you mentioned that you would like to understnad better the impact of the decisions and the upcoming roadmap and how SAP BI and BusinessObjects BI strategically fits into your overall landscape and to your requirements.
Here I would really like to suggest that you do reach out to your account manager and discuss with him the option of a BI Assessment Workshop that we offer, where we build in combination with your different stakeholders a BI Strategy for leveraging the tools to its best usage.
In case you have further questions on this topic or I missed items to be clarified or some of my explanations aren’t clear, feel free to reach out to me.