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The Best of Two Worlds: A 21st Century Planning Tool

InMemory11.jpgPlanning applications are essential to corporate operations, enabling senior executives to streamline their planning, forecasting, budgeting, and consolidation processes.

Currently, SAP offers two planning instruments: SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, and SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse Integrated Planning – each with its own strengths and focus.

But recently SAP Global IT has combined the best features of both – and added a very valuable third ingredient – to create an optimized, end-to-end planning solution that is already being put to the test by SAP planning community.

Diverse planning requirements

“SAP has a complex planning environment,” explains Holger Faber, Solution Lead. “For example, our company does three-year financial planning, target setting, high-level budgeting, and forecasting. Each requires different content and different levels of detail. Yet they need to be similar in look and feel, and they need to be connected to one another in order to exchange data.

“At the same time,” Holger adds, “there are also lots of decentralized planning and forecasting needs that are specific to our lines of business or regions. So it’s difficult to develop a single solution that fits both models.”

Further complicating the task was the fact that corporate requirements have changed in recent years. According to Matthias Wild, Enterprise Architect, “Since our applications were developed, planning and reporting requirements have grown more complex. So in addition to bridging the two systems, we needed to update them for today’s realities.”

Dependent and independent

The team’s answer was to convert to a planning concept that places SAP corporate planning needs at the center using SAP BW Integrated Planning, while allowing for multiple “satellites” that use SAP Planning and Consolidation to reflect decentralized requirements. Through a standardized interface, all of the entities have the ability to share data as needed.

“Some of the processes depend on the core,” Holger explains, “and some are independent. But all can be connected by a standardized interface.”

Adding the magic: SAP HANA

As it presented big challenges, the consolidation project also offered a big opportunity to upgrade the new planning application to the SAP HANA platform.

Holger explains, “A planning application may not sound like a typical big-data solution. But sales forecasts and other plans can often involve hundreds of thousands of records – especially when a company is dealing with snapshot versions, matrix planning, and reference data. Also, planning requires stable and reliable performance; you need to know that it will be completed in time for corporate and regulatory reporting. Speed, stability, and reliability are areas in which SAP HANA excels.”

Now that they’ve developed the ultimate planning tool on the ultimate platform, the team is already thinking about the future. “We’re investigating the potential of a mobile planning app,” Holger says. “We want to make sure our stakeholders have the latest and best planning tools available.”

See it at SAPPHIRE NOW 2012

For a closer look at the new SAP planning application, stop by the “SAP Runs SAP” booth at SAPPHIRE NOW 2012 Orlando, May 14-16, 2012.

Author: Bill Kozel

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