Obsessed with series of unboxing & review of all the smartphones and gadgets around, I just thought why don’t we do something on the RDS which is similar to getting something like MS Office (I hope can make that analogy). RDS being a preconfigured & packaged solution which is almost ready to be deployed in matter of few days rather than months, seems to be of great interest to all.
I am going to review about SAP RDS for Demand Planning & Analytics in this post followed by other RDS that are out in the market under the Supply Chain Management banner. Hope to cover them in a series on regular interval.
First to start with let’s look at the process, which is generally focus on the SCM projects. RDS for Demand Planning & Analytics covers the basic 6 step process in the usual demand planning function,
1. Load the historical sales
2. Clean the history
3. Run statistical forecast
4. Review & adjustment by Local planner
5. Review & adjustment by Central planner
6. Demand plan release
Typical steps that are required for any organization to execute in demand planning. Since all are pre-configured already, the system simply needs to be loaded with Master data and Swooosh we have the planning system ready for use.
On the software component side, the list isn’t so big. RDS helps to manage and leverage the existing ECC system. It involves,
1. SAP ECC 6.0
2. SAP SCM 7.0
3. SAP BO Xcelsius 2008
While it’s basic requirement to have ECC & SCM system in place, Xcelsius is something new on this landscape. Xcelsius is used for the Analytics part of the RDS, which generally takes care on the Local & Central planner reviews with standard features like Forecast Accuracy, Historical review, Bias, Future forecast in terms of value etc.,
I think BO Xcelsius is a tactical placement given the opportunity SAP HANA will (can) be adopted on the Analytical side. Moreover SAP BO is on the roadmap of SAP for long time and no wonder SAP has the same packaged here
Content wise, RDS for Demand Planning comes with Business Process Design document, Configuration Guide (aka Building Blocks earlier), Test scripts, Sample Master data for CVC loading which helps the organization to make the big leap without investing time on building them. This comes apart from the regular quick guides and other standard premium contents in any RDS. As said by someone in SAP sometime back, SAP is helping Business Analysts within the Client organization to realize the full potential of it’s software without depending too much on the project team. In fact in all sales flyers SAP markets that RDS implementations are co-owned by the customer which is very much appreciated.
Configuration are pretty neat. RDS for Demand Planning comes with standard characteristics & key figures required. However those planning levels are just enough for an organization to start with. Client needs to carefully pick during the personalization, if any additional is required and should have a proper justification of themselves to incorporate the same. It also has minimum required authorization objects enabled with the roles also preconfigured in the solution.
RDS for Demand Planning is a great package. As SAP claims it can be deployed in very short period (less than 10 weeks) and good part is you don’t have to build heavy interfaces if you have SAP ECC already up & running. It’s tool for any organization who are live in ECC and wants to improve their planning side in more sophisticated way.
It’s very nice move to add Xcelsius is in the package which helps a lot on the reporting angle.
I am not too sure about certain functionality which may come as conflict and also confuse. For example, forecast error techniques such as MAD or MAPE when calculated in APO utilizes the ex-post forecast as key factor. But when the same is calculated as report in Xcelsius I don’t think they use ex-post methodology. So literally, I can see 2 different values of error techniques in APO & Xcelsius reports.
ℹ What could be improved
SAP being over 40 years in the field, I would expect them to come up with more functions like promotion planning, lifecycle planning etc., which are missing in this RDS. May be those are reserved for Partner led RDS or for the project team. Nevertheless, these forms essentials in demand planning. Again a industry wise specific RDS will be cherry on the ice cream. For example, we a retail organization, I need promotions very much and the characteristics are also not enough. SAP having rich industry BU talents, could easily come up with this additions.
Well that’s it for now. Will meet you again on another RDS review in this series soon.