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I was in Technical Training for VSN last December in snowy Walldorf and saw a bit more of Service Pack 1.0 for VSN3.0. I was fairly familiar with a number of changes, but there were several newer features that I was pleased to see included. It looks like a number of features were intended to be released with 3.0, but for one reason or another (maybe SAP pushing Nakisa to release 3.0 to coincide with EhP5 in September) they didn’t make it into the final cut.

Nakisa’s message for SP1 is that it is themed around quality, stability and performance. They have also extended OrgChart and enhanced their “Customer partner enablement”.

Regular readers of my blogs will know that I’ve probably already got as far as I can go without using bullet points, so I’m not going to disappoint. Below you can find some of the best features I saw from Service Pack 1.0:

  • Enhanced AdminConsole
  • Native support of Assistants and Council
  • Export to CSV & Excel for Listings
  • Enhanced Chartbook
  • Performance improvements
  • Enhanced printing
  • Other enhancements

           

Enhanced AdminConsole

Like with the major 3.0 release, a lot of work has been put into making the technical solution easier to implement and allow consultants with less XML knowledge perform further customizations. So, in SP1 the following additional functionalities have been introduced for the AdminConsole (mostly for OrgChart):

  • Additional Security configuration options
  • Style configurations
  • Template based view creation
  • Enhanced Details Designer
  • Work Council filter
  • Caption Editor
  • Enhanced Data Center
  • Enhanced Add-on Manager
  • Export Settings
  • User Preferences options
  • Log Viewer
  • Logging level options

                     

SP1 brings 2 additional authentication options to the SIs; Active Directory Integration and Active Directory Form. Both of these options provide Active Directory as an alternative authentication source to SAP. This option has proved popular in the past for those not using the SAP Enterprise Portal or those that have only a small percentage of their employees using SAP. With these options it also means non-SAP users can use role-based security.

For OrgChart 2 new configurations for styles of an orgchart have been introduced. For each style used, the style used by the child objects can be changed. This, for example, would enable you to set a Vertical style for positions when the orgunit style is Horizontal. Another configuration available is to set the maximum number of boxes per column.

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The enhanced Details Designer allows section captions, which were previously uneditable in the AdminConsole, to be editable. Business Card sections can now also be created easily in the Details Designer, as well as Staffing analytics, Demographic analytics and Silo sections. I also spotted something called Position Employee Pair Section, although I have no idea what it does yet. This is quite powerful stuff and would’ve saved me a lot of effort on some recent implementations…

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Views can now easily be created from templates in the AdminConsole. There’s not much to write home about, but I thought I’d point it out 🙂 You can also create linked details to other details so that data from different sources can be displayed – previously this was only possible directly in the XML files.

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A filter for Work Councils is now available in the configuration of each orgchart (see Native support of Assistants and Council below).

The Caption Editor feature allows the captions for any caption key to be changed in all available languages. It’s nothing fancy and still doesn’t make a lot of use if you don’t know what the caption key is used for, but generally you should be able to find the captions you need to change using the Search feature.

An enhanced Data Center is shipped in SP1. This adds some additional functionality to create new data elements from various sources for various different uses and create linked data elements (I have a blog in the pipeline about these). It also allows you to create custom hierarchies using HR-OCI or custom evaluation paths using NakisaRFC. You can also add custom relationships to standard hierarchies. Most of the changes here are to improve application data architecture and allow the utmost flexibility in enhancing and customizing the application for client’s specific SAP system configurations.

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The Add-on Manager has been enhanced to make management of Add-ons a bit easier. Add-ons can now be analysed, allowing a bit of greater control in imported new configuration into the system.

You can now comprehensively select or deselect the export options required. This is much handier than changing SettingResources.xml and also gives you the power to choose either PowerPoint 2007 or pre-2007 exports for the PowerPoint option rather than 2003 or all. Options for export to Excel and CSV for Listings have also been made accessible in the AdminConsole.

User Preferences previously could only be enabled for RDBMS, but now you can also choose Cookie storage, including expiry date of the cookie and what preferences are saved.

The Log Viewer is now a standard feature for all applications. I believe this is only available in builds compiled later than those available on Service Marketplace.

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The Logging Level can now be selected from the AdminConsole. This allows the user to increase how much information is recorded in the log file to help debugging errors. This is a very useful and welcome option, particularly for SAP Support and those that contribute to the SDN Forum.

Native support of Assistants and Work Councils

Experienced users of OrgChart will know that there has been Assistant support for all STVN versions prior to the release of 3.0. However, in 3.0 the Assistant support has been improved greatly and Work Council support has also been added.

Previously Assistant’s were only displayed in “flat hierarchies”, such as the Position Hierarchy. Now they are natively supported in any orgchart. Functionality is also available to change the positioning of the Assistant node to be left, right, centre or floating below the node for which it is the assistant. This does depend on the style you are using to display your orgchart. It’s also worth noting that Nakisa are using the HRP1003-STABS field to indicate an Assistant.

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The Work Council functionality enables a “floating” orgunit (the Work Council) to the left of the structure. For those of your not familiar with Work Council, you can check out this info:

http://help.sap.com/erp2005_ehp_05/helpdata/EN/7e/5e06104a1611d1894c0000e829fbbd/frameset.htm

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Both of these objects can be hidden or displayed in the Settings Panel.

Export to CSV & Excel for Listings

Listing results can now be exported to CSV or Excel files. Not a huge feature, but very useful for getting lists of information out of OrgChart (and easier than using SAP…).

Enhanced Chartbook

Chartbook is one of the lost changed features in SP1. This functionality was removed in STVN2.0 but came back in STVN2.1 – and is now back with a bang in 3.0 SP1. Logically the Chartbook feature is now accessed from the Actions menu. The options for setup of Chartbook and the output have been greatly enhanced meaning that you really do get a booklet.

The new Chartbook now includes customisable options for:

  • Cover page (with legal footer)
  • Header and footer
  • Contents, Legend and Index
  • Hierarchy options
  • Password and modification settings

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And all this with the bonus of being able to export your Chartbook to a PDF with navigable bookmarks.

Generally the layout of each page hasn’t changed much, but it’s the additional options that make it useful. Being able to add a title page and configure it in a true booklet will provide real value. While the Print option has gone, the PDF is neat and can be printed just as well as from your browser. It is possible to password protect your PDF document or enable certain permissions (permission to print, permission to edit and permission to copy). From SP2 it should be possible to both password protect and enable certain permissions, but for now it is one or the other.

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Performance improvements

Nakisa have worked hard all over the place to try and bring in new performance improvements. They’ve reworked how their integration classes connect to SAP so that data can be downloaded quicker, with less calls and with more client-side caching. For example, some detail panels can be fetched with a time reduction of around 66%.

Enhanced Printing

The printing was already enhanced in 3.0, but with SP1 Nakisa have enhanced it further and tidied up some of the presentation. The HTML printing is not improved greatly, although this is kind of expected as it’s just the print module from standard 2.1. However, the new Flex print module is where it’s at. I like the ability to print a chart over multiple pages, meaning those huge charts of your entire company that you’ve always printed are now possible, even if you will need to use the entire outside of your building to put it up.

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Overall the printing is more reliable and fine-tuned in SP1 and I think will finally make customers happy.

Other enhancements

OrgChart views now take into account orgunit and position cost centre. The Nationality View now has flags for all countries out of the box. The views have all been redesigned, but content-wise there is no difference. Portraits can also be sourced from a different location than SAP. Previously Image, PDF and PowerPoint exports were only available in HTML mode but now work in the Flex mode. Another important change is to allow mixed-case searches in Live mode – previously the case had to match SAP. Export to PowerPoint 2003 is no longer supported because of the limitation of using ActiveX. This only worked with Internet Explorer and also caused security issues at some clients.

In SuccessionPlanning I noticed some nice changes, like the ability to view listings and grids alongside details panels so you can see information about selections without navigating away from the source. I also like the new Development Plan tab on the Talent details panel. This displays the Development Plan information of the employee and also allows Development Plan items to be added to the employee’s profile.

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We don’t like change

Some applications haven’t changed much. Generally during BETA I didn’t find any specific functional enhancements to TalentFramework, CareerPlanning or OrgModeler. DataQualityConsole has no new features in SP1.

What about upgrading?

Upgrading to SP1 from 3.0 out of the box is fairly easy, but because of the new architecture it is not easy to upgrade from 3.0 once configurations or customizations have been performed. A new transport package and new ABAP add-on will also be required for SP1. Upgrading SP1 to SP2 or straight to SP3 will be very easy I’m told.

Conclusion

If you’re about to implement then get SP1! For those implementations already done I would evaluate the functionality available and see what benefits it will bring. If you’ve already blueprinting and started to build then it’s likely you’ve found a workaround for some of the new features. For things like printing, there is nothing comparable to having SP1 installed.

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12 Comments

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  1. Great summary Luke.  I see they are allowing us to configure different hierarchies by using our own evaluation paths.  Do you know if we supply the evaluation path in configuration or the view?  The next step would be for them to let us specify not only the data selection object but the root object selection rules.  This would allow us to create our own methods for determining dynamic org chart roots.

    thanks again.

    JB

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    1. Luke Marson Post author
      Hi Jamie,

      Thanks! The backend configuration is via HR-OCI, so you would setup your views there and specify evaluation paths/function modules etc and just provide the HR-OCI view and structure root object to OrgChart.

      Best regards,

      Luke

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      1. Hi Luke,

        Using this method though we will still need to change some XML tags to make sure the root can be dynamically derived from HR-OCI correct?

        thanks.

        JB

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    1. Luke Marson Post author
      Hi Petr,

      Thansk for your comment. SP1 should have been on SMP on 1st of April (that’s no April fool!).

      Best regards,

      Luke

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  2. Carlos Duverdier
    Hi Luke,
    We’ve facing up very huge performance issue with NAKISA STV 2.1 (JAVA release) Orgchart, Manager and Succession Planning…
    For example, assigning a successor can take from 40 s to 10 mn depending of the nodes expanded. My client suggests perhaps to stop the project. What is your feeling about the performance on the latest release? 
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    1. Luke Marson Post author
      Hi Carlos,

      There are a number of reasons why you can be getting performance issue and the application(s) should not be blamed without any proof. Usually under-spec/cheap DEV hardware can cause the application to not perform as quickly as it should – and also if the network bandwidth hasn’t been optimized for this (which often for DEV servers it isn’t) then this can also be a source of the problem.

      SP1 certainly has a lot of performance benefits as many of the backend function modules have been re-written and can see an increase in performance of about 250% in most cases.

      Best regards,

      Luke

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      1. Carlos Duverdier
        Many thanks for your quick answer. We investigated on the hardware and we’ve got the latest CPU and so on. But we ran ST12 and we saw when orgchart started 67 connections to the backend with the out of the box build. By the way, when trying to assign a successions with   26 orgunits and 127 positions expanded, SP performed 1’559 RFC connections with the OOB Build and last 10 minutes.
        Have you ever customized this release (JAVA 2.1)I know there are a lot of OSS notes about performance for this release but in .NET.
        Many thanks if you have an idea how we can move forward.
        NAkisa is working in house to improve the performance for us with SAP but they went onsite to improve Orgchart performance One time but the result isn’t enough good for the customer.
        Best regards,
        Carlos
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        1. Luke Marson Post author
          Hi Carlos,

          Performance varies from organisation to organisation so without. In your scenario I find it unusual that you would have 26 orgunits and 127 positions expanded – this is not always a production scenario.

          I would recommend going to 3.0 SP1 if you’ve not done many configurations or customizations in 2.1. 3.0 SP1 will run on the same infrastructure you use for 2.1.

          If you have any further queries I advise you head over to the SDN Forum for SVSN and post something there: SAP Organizational Visualization by Nakisa and SAP Talent Visualization by Nakisa

          Best regards,

          Luke

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  3. Francois Horion
    Hi Luke,
    Thanks for this article. It is very interesting.
    I am trying to understand how the Council Configuration works in Nakisa and what source data it is using. You say in your article that it is related to Work Council – IT0054. But I am a bit surprised by that as they seem to be 2 separate things. You may have councils, advisory boards or committees that you want to show as a floating org unit. However, I don’t see how it’s related to running the payroll for a semi autonomous works council. I would have thought Nakisa would look at the org structure instead and whether some org units belong to the same root but do not share any reporting line. Have you had a chance to experiment this functionality?
    Sorry if I misunderstood.
    Cheers
    Francois
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    1. Luke Marson Post author
      Hi Francois,

      There is no relation to payroll here. This functionality is purely to display the “floating” work councils, if they are not part of the Org structure (which is sometimes the case). Of course, through customization you can also use this functionality to display something different.

      Let me know if this answers your question or not.

      Best regards,

      Luke

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