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In order to persist Business Process Monitoring data and make it available for trend analysis, a first SAP BW based application was introduced in 2008 as described in the blog New Business Process Monitoring functionalities in SAP Solution Manager – BPMon Trend Analysis ReportingNow this application still serves its purpose and is widely used by Business Process Monitoring customers in order to report on trends for application related as well as technical related monitors. But some of our customers’ challenges could not be adressed via this application, e.g.

  • Avoid multiple similar data collection runs if the same key figures are evaluated for different organizational units
  • Allow an easier to use benchmark comparison of organizational units/document types for the same key figure
  • Provide not only trend analysis features but also age analysis features so that an exisitng document backlog can be divided into “old legacy” and “still operational” backlog
  • Provide drill down functionality into single documents (as already provided in the alert monitoring functionality of BPMon)
  • Provide a tool with which you can reduce the already existing document backlog to a level where it makes sense to switch-on the BPMon alert monitoring based on meaningful threshold values

All these challenges are covered by a new SAP BW based application that was shipped in April 2010 as already mentioned in the blog New key figure catalog for Business Process Monitoring available

Based on several successful customer implementations a new (SMP login required) Setup and User Guide for Business Process Analytics has been published last week under http://service.sap.com/bpm > Media Library > Technical Information. I want to take the chance and provide a short summary of what you can find in this document and especially explain the main features of Business Process Analytics a little bit.

Content of the Setup Guide
  1. The first chapter contains some information about what Business Process Analytics is and what it should be used for.
  2. The second chapter provides some insights on the used architecture and technical components
  3. The third chapter describes the technical prerequisites required to get started with Business Process Analytics. Minimum requirements are Solution Manager 7.0 SPS 23 (ST 400 SP23, BI_CONT 7.04 SP6, ST A/PI Type M) and ST A/PI Type M on the respective backend system. A step by step description is given on what needs to be configured/activated in order to get started. This takes usually less than 15 minutes.
  4. The fourth chapter describes how you can select and configure available key figures for the data collection. If you already know the setup of Business Process Monitoring, this chapter will look very familiar to you. You can reckon at most 5 minutes per key figure.
  5. The fifth chapter exaplains how Business Process Analytics can be accessed and used and introduces the different functions benchmarking, trend analysis and age analysis
  6. The data collected for Business Process Analytics can also be (re-)used for the alert functionality Business Process Monitoring. The corresponding setup is described in chapter six.
  7. Chapter seven describes very brief how this monitoring data can be accessed and used. This is basic Business Process Monitoring knowledge that is described in more details in previous documents
  8. The eighth and last chapter is dedicated to Troubleshooting and provides helpful answers to already known problems

Business Process Improvement 

As was explained in the blog Why SAP offers different tools for Business Process Monitoring & Business Process Optimization we are usually talking about four different life cycle phases when looking at business processes: Business Process Implementation, Business Process Stabilization, Business Process Improvement and Business Process Optimization. The Business Process Monitoring in SAP Solution Manager (and its related applications like Business Process Analytics) focuses on phases 2 and 3 the stabilization and improvement of business processes. As already mentioned in the blog Protect your SAP ERP investment & improve your core business processesOver 90% of all analyzed systems show (very) significant potential for Business Process Stabilization & Improvement!” The stabilization is usually technically related and for most customers rather straightforward once you tell them where the problems lie. The improvement piece is then the harder nut to crack as it is usually application related and as many customers have tens or even hundreds of thousands of documents in backlog it is difficult to analyze and resolve the different problems in a systematic manner.

(Internal) Benchmarking

Usually you collect data for a specific key figure across all organizational units (sales or purchasing organizations, plants etc.) and across all document types. The Business Process Analytics benchmarking allows now a visualization on how the document backlog is distributed over the different organizational units and/or document types. Hence you can figure out if the backlog is evenly caused across all areas in your company or if certain countries, locations or document types are sticking out. So perhaps you can focus on just a few areas (like in the example below you could focus on the top 3 plants) in order to resolve the root cause of 80-90% of your document backlog. Perhaps some countries require further end user training or the configuration is different for certain document types and certain countries and by changing the configuration many problems are solved all at once.

Benchmarking

Age Analysis (over months or years)

While the benchmarking is very useful to get a first impression where you should focus your efforts in order to improve your business processes it is additionally interesting to split your document backlog into basically two “heaps”. The documents still in use and relevant for daily operations and the (very) old documents no longer used.  For this  you can use the age analysis functionality. The collected backlog information is displayed according to the month or year since the respective document is due.

Perhaps you find then plants (or other organizational units or document types) that have created a high document backlog 2-5 years ago but where no current documents exist. Then you can figure out if the respective organizational unit is still in use. Perhaps it was sold or shut-down meanwhile and all respectivre documents could be closed and archived immediately. Or you may find out that the recent backlog is mainly caused by some new plant that just went live and where further post GoLive support is required.

In our example plants 0001 and 1000 show old an new backlog.

Trend Analysis

While the benchmarking and age analysis requires basically just one single data collection the trend analysis functionality is only showing meaningful results if data is collected continuously. The trend analysis allows the tracking of your progress with the improvement activties on the one hand (onceyou start your backlog cleanup the trend should decrease significantly) or you can use this functionality in order to identify increasing trends and react very proactively.

In our example plant 0001 shows significant imporvements as the backlog dropped  from over 3000 down to 438. Plant 1000 shows an increasing trend.

Getting detailed lists of backlog documents

Depending on the selection that you made in the previously described functionalities you can always jump into the respective backend system and have a look at the detailed list of backlog documents that fit your selection. From this list you can then navigate into the single document (e.g. sales order, purchae order or transfer order). So after you clustered you problematio documents via the benchmarking and/or age analysis you can really check for the respective root cause within all or sample documents.

Further Reading:

Frequently Asked Questions about Business Process Monitoring and Business Process Analytics are answered at  http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/SM/FAQ+Business+Process+Monitoring and http://wiki.sdn.sap.com/wiki/display/SM/FAQ+Business+Process+Analytics respectively.

The following blogs (chronological order) provide further details about Business Process Monitoring functionalities within the SAP Solution Manager.

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2 Comments

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  1. Reggie Obos
    Hi Volker,
    I find this technology as very interesting. In fact, I may even employ it on my upcoming project. Can you suggest any specific contact to whom I can present my project deliverables so that I cann now if BPA is the best solution for it?
    (0) 
    1. Volker von Gloeden Post author
      Hi Reggie,

      unfortunately I don’t really get your request. I don’t know who could evaluate if BP Analytics is the best solution for your project but one could only say if it fits at all. As you can look into all available key figures in our corresponding catalog (see also New key figures for Business Process Monitoring in SAP Solution Manager, especially for CRM Marketing) you should be able to evaluate yourself whether or not the provided solution may fit your needs.

      Best Regards
      Volker

      (0) 

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