Analytics Part 1: Integration of SAP Business Objects to SAP Sourcing
This is the first of a series of blogs on Analytics in the Sourcing, Contract Management and Supplier Management applications. We begin with an overview of the new additions in version 7.0 and the subsequent blogs will address specific sub-topics. The goal of analytics is to provide insight into the business process and enable the user to make timely decisions. With this goal in sight we have targeted usability (ability to access information easily) and content (delivering the right information to the user). Hopefully this will enable users (including admin users) to maximize the insight from reports and address their business problems.
With the acquisition of Business Objects, SAP has access to numerous tools with a rich array of functionality. That has led to the frequent question – when will SAP Sourcing incorporate these tools? Here we address this question by stating that SAP Sourcing 7.0 has integration to various tools. However, these tools are completely transparent to the end user, the business value of the content being the primary driver. The enhancements will be visible as new reports or dashboards in different components within the application.
The first enhancement is the default charting functionality that has been enhanced by using an advanced charting library. Called CVOM (Common Visualization and Object Model), it is an intelligent charting engine that analyzes the data and determines the recommended chart selection in descending order of preference.
There are two key enhancements for the the users of the application:
- Charting Options For each report there is a ‘view chart as’ dropdown chart listing all possible options. There are 10 chart types in total, providing a variety of ways to visualize the data. The charting functionality automatically lists the chart types in decreasing order of suitability to the data.The actual chart selection is at the hands of the end-user and can be changed at run time.
Personalization A user can select any of the charts suitable for the report and the system saves the user’s preference.When the user logs back on again, the previous session’s selections are maintained. To switch back to the system default, all you have to do is select the chart option with (default) label in the dropdown.
The second new feature is the integration to a Business Objects tool called Xcelsius. This tool provides highly interactive visualization of data in a dashboard format. The interactivity brings about a level of insight that empowers the end users to find answers to their business questions. For example, you will always find a standard report in most contract management applications listing current expiring contracts with the corresponding suppliers. Usually the follow-up question to that piece of information is – “what other contracts do I have with this supplier and when are they expiring?” Or perhaps – “What are the other contracts in the same category?” The dashboards will allow the user to continue any related line of analysis and extract information.
Three new dashboards that have been introduced in SAP Sourcing version 7.0, one in each solution area Sourcing, Contract Management and Supplier Management.
RFx Response Summary Dashboard – This dashboard is launched from wihtin an RFx document and gives an overview of the responses from all suppliers for a given RFx. It provides a summary chart of the current status and also includes the questions and responses, Line item price, supplier attributes and formulas defined at the line item level. The advantage of being able to select any supplier from the list interactively and compare the responses without running the report again, makes this dashboard very easy to use. Each cost contribution can also be compared between selected suppliers as the charts are also interactive. A single dashboard is used for small to medium events of 10-15 suppliers and less than 100 line items. For larger events (30 suppliers, 200 line items and upto 300 questions) the information has been split between two dashboards, one at the header level for questions and responses and the other with line item level data.
Contract Performance Dashboard – This dashboard is available under Reports-> Contract Management -> Master Agreements. It allows you to see all of your contracts by default and also find out the contract value of the top 10 Suppliers and Product Categories. There is interactive search capability to filter the contract list by key parameters like Business Unit, Supplier etc., and the ability to look into some of the line items of the contract. The other functionality is to identify all the contracts expiring within a given date range, in the past or in the future. So for example, if you were to select options to see all of your contracts that are expiring in the next month and two contracts show up on the list, you can switch tabs to the contracts overview and select all your other contracts filtering for the supplier in question to see status of the other contracts with the same Supplier and their expiration date and total
Supplier Scorecard Dashboard – The Supplier Management module includes the ability to define and track supplier performance scores. The performance can be captured as a function of product category and location. This dashboard gives visibility into the performance data. It has the charts that lists the sections and metrics of any individual supplier, the year over year trends and the time history for the past 3 years. If a supplier has multiple scorecards, say for different product categories, the user can interactively select one scorecard to display the details. Moreover, each selected Supplier can be compared to other suppliers in the same product category (with the same scorecard definition) for an apples to apples comparison. The average and the highest supplier score for the chosen category is also displayed.
All of these dashboards and reports can be found in the OnDemand and On-Premise version of the application. Future blogs will address further details on these areas.