Intention of this Document

Business Process Monitoring / Business Process Analytics (BPMon/BPA) and Process Observer (POB) are mainly complementary SAP tools to support monitoring and analytics of business processes run in the SAP Business Suite. The intention of this document is comparing tools and giving a recommendation for their most common uses.

Authors and contributors to this document are:
  • Andreas Krückendorf, Stefan Voll, Volker von Gloeden (SolMan, BPMon/BPA)
  • Bernd Schmitt (Process Observer)

BPMon/BPA

BPMon/BPA are part of the functionality in SAP Solution Manager that enables customers to operate their business processes. The rights to use SAP Solution Manager are provided to customers as part of SAP maintenance.
  • BPMon can be used for monitoring and alerting of business transactions, interfaces, background jobs, exceptions in processing logs and technical performance in the context of business processes in SAP and non-SAP environments.
  • BPA is an analytical application to be used for interactive analysis of business document data for investigating document backlog situations. SAP provides more than 800 predefined best-practice KPIs for different categories of business processes out of SAP Business Suite systems.
  • BPMon/BPA allows the periodical extraction of information. For BPMon, data extraction can run as frequently as every 5 minutes. For BPA, data extraction usually runs less frequently, for example, once a day.
  • BPMon/BPA offers a set of SAP Solution Manager based, web-based launch pads and UIs for monitoring and analytics of the BPMon/BPA KPIs
  • BPA KPIs are calculated out of existing and stored business documents. For example, business backlog such as the number of orders created or overdue as well as KPIs for technical issues such as message processing. BPMon/BPA allows a drilldown to the level of single orders.
  • BPMon can also be used to set up an alerting for specific BPA key figures.
  • SAP provides additional BPA key figures twice a year.
  • BPMon/BPA provides an extension concept for customer-specific enhancements. Customers can use those extension concepts to define their own monitoring capabilities or specific key figures for BPA for SAP and non-SAP applications.
For more information about Business Process Analytics, see http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-48233.

Process Observer

Process Observer is a component for tracking running business process. It is delivered as part of the SAP Business Suite (no additional license required). 
  • Process Observer allows the tracking of running business processes in the Business Suite itself, in near real-time, in a process log.
  • The process log delivers information about process steps executed, process participants, related documents, and the process status.
  • An API for the integration of external and non-SAP applications is available.
  • Process Observer allows additionally the near real-time calculation of different KPIs for the recorded process instances such as the cycle times between process steps executed, the numbers of steps or events occurred, or more complex process classifications.
  • Process Observer allows the reaction to predefined thresholds, defined for KPIs like the cycle time, in near-real time, in the business system itself.
  • For Process Analytics, Process Observer provides Operational Data Providers (ODPs) and allows the extraction of the process logs into BI (via data sources) or SAP HANA (via SLT). BI content and Virtual Data Models (VDMs) in SAP HANA are available to support process analysis.
  • External Process Mining environments can be integrated via MXML export functionality.
  • Process Observer processes are configuration-based. Processes can be extended and new KPIs can be defined via configuration. For the purpose of observation of new process steps, application events may need to be added to application exits/BAdIs. Sample configuration and application instrumentation for selected processes is available.
Process Observer is general available since ERP EhP4 and equivalent releases of other Business Suite components and is supported by Installed Base Maintenance & Supoort.
Current limitations of Process Observer:
  • Little preconfigured content (instrumentation, process definition, sample reports). Currently available:
    • Basic O2C (header level)
    • Procure-to-Pay (item level)
    • Master data distribution (RDS available)
          Further RDS are planned.
  • Creation of Process Log data starts only after Process Observer is activated and the process model is defined. Existing business information cannot be analyzed immediately. As a workaround, it is possible to transfer existing (historic) business data into process log data using an appropriate ABAP report [“process recovery”]. Sales Order historical data can be included into analysis with Process Observer.
The following strategies for further extension can be applied to Process Observer to extend it to a more complete BPM solution:
For more information about Process Observer, see http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-24983
.

Common Usage of BPMon/BPAnalytics with Process Observer

While already using BPMon/BPA for the monitoring of business process status via the set of predefined KPIs, Process Observer can be used to overcome the limitations of BPMon/BPA, such as:
  • Calculate KPIs such as cycle times along process chains: BPMon/BPA offers only limited capabilities for calculating cycle times.
  • Calculate KPIs based on temporary events not stored in business documents, such as the duration of locks in orders.
  • Automatically react to threshold violation near real-time, for example, when the processing of process steps takes too long (subsequent, expected process step is not executed within predefined threshold).
  • Capability to configure new KPIs based on a given process definition.
  • View individual details of the process chain: activities along process chain, process participants, related documents, process status.
  • Apply process mining techniques: find processing variants, identify problems in variants.
Some challenges exist in common usage of BPMon/BPAnalytics with Process Observer with regards to backend systems as well as UI tools used and supported for the monitoring and analytics of process data.
BPMon/BPAnalytics:
  • Extracts the data required for monitoring and analytics to SAP Solution Manager.
  • Offers own Web UIs for accessing the reports and analyzing the data.
  • Predefined and configurable reports and dash boards.
  • Customer-specific reports and dash boards can be created using SAP BEx and SAP BO tools on top of SAP Solution Manager. Therefore, SAP Solution Manager internal BI functionality is used.
Process Observer:
  • Monitor for reviewing single process instances as part of the backend (such as ERP).
  • For analytics data is extracted to BI or HANA like other business application data, it can be joined with business application data for analytics.
SAP Solution Manager uses a rather generic BI data model, so the data cannot simply be replicated to another BI system to combine BPMon/BPA data with application data/Process Observer data. A possible solution for the common monitoring of BPMon/BPA data with Process Observer data is the extraction of Process Observer Log information into SAP Solution Manager in BPMon/BPA proprietary UIs, or using SAP BEx or SAP BO Tools. This is currently under evaluation.
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14 Comments

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  1. Martin Hinderer

    Very nice, and at least now there is a comparison between BPMon/BPAn and POB.

    Is there anywhere an updated overview picture similar as in this old blog by Volker von Gloeden (Why SAP offers different tools for Business Process Monitoring & Business Process Optimization – Business Process Optimization (2nd picture)), where the three current tools are assigned to? Or even a roadmap with a recommendation on an implementation order?

    I’m still having a hard time deciding what really would be good to start with, also choosing between BPMon and BPAnalytics. I actually also didn’t find a comparision between those two tools and would be glad if there is one and I just did not find it…

    Regards

    MH

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    1. Volker von Gloeden

      Hello Martin,

      perhaps you have a look into the following blog to get a better idea why BP Analytics was developed as an evolution out of BPMon http://scn.sap.com/community/it-management/alm/solution-manager/blog/2010/11/18/new-functionality-business-process-analytics–how-to-improve-your-business-processes.

      If you look for our overview PPT in the Media Library at http://service.sap.com/bpimp you will also see a slide similar to the picture inyour referenced blog http://scn.sap.com/community/it-management/alm/solution-manager/blog/2010/05/05/why-sap-offers-different-tools-for-business-process-monitoring-business-process-optimization
      This picture shows the pupose of BPMon, BP Analytics and BP Operations dashboards.

      Brief summary:

      – BPMon is mainly used to technically ensure that business process is running stable, i.e. all background jobs and interfaces are working fine.

      – BP Analytics helps to clean-up and improve all the application related problems, typcially due to bad master data quality, wrong configuration/customizing and wrong end user handling.

      – BP OPs dashboards are used to inform people who are not necessarily working in an active manner with BPMon and/or Analytics and “make their hands dirty”.

      Kind Regards

      Volker

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      1. Martin Hinderer

        Hello Volker,

        thank your for the link to the Media Library, with all of the blogs and documents here on SCN I somehow missed that. Thank you also for the brief summary, this is very handy.

        I took a look at the overview presentation and think you are referring to slide 13. Sorry to ask one more question: is this Business Process Operations Dashboard now equal to the Process Observer, or are different POBs feeding a BPOp Dashboard in one BI system? Where in this picture would I find the Process Observer?

        Regards

        MH

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        1. Bernd Schmitt Post author

          Hi Martin,

          the BP Operations Dashboard is based on Solution Manager data only, so only BPMon/BP Analytics data at the moment. As discussed above, having the missing extraction of Process Observer data into Solution Manager (currently under evaluation) it would then also be possible to report over Process Observer data using the BP Operations Dashboard.

          Regards,

          Bernd

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          1. Martin Hinderer

            Hi Bernd,

            I tried to put all that in one overview, at least which would make it more clear to me. Can you check if that is understood correct so far?

            Overview.jpg

            Regards

            MH

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            1. Bernd Schmitt Post author

              Hi Martin,

              your picture does not contain the HANA options but with regards to BW and Solution Manager it is completely right.

              Regards,

              Bernd

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    2. Bernd Schmitt Post author

      Hi Martin,

      whether to start with BPMon/BP Analytics or with Process Observer depends on your licenses and your specific interests.

      – While Process Observer is included in the Standard Support licence for the Business Suite, you will need Active Embedded or Max Attention Support to use BPMon/BP Analytics

      – When you have specific interest in backlog monitoring (like how many orders are currently open/overdue etc.) you may have a very quick start using BP Analytics predefined KPIs and reports.

      – When you have more interest in having performance key figures (like cycle times, counts) as well as operational process activity monitoring you may then want to implement Process Observer.

      Actually at our customers we see both: either starting with BP Analytics and then implementing Process Observer, or starting with Process Observer directly.

      Kind regards,

      Bernd

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      1. Martin Hinderer

        Hi Bernd,

        Bernd Schmitt wrote:

        (…)

        – While Process Observer is included in the Standard Support licence for the Business Suite, you will need Active Embedded or Max Attention Support to use BPMon/BP Analytics

        has this been changed recently? Because I thought that if you have Enterprise Support you can also use BPMon with Solution Manager. Actually I searched through the service market place documents, but I could not find any statement on it. I found one old thread on SCN that states even that no license is required (Is there additional licensing required to use BPMon in SM7.1?)

        Regards

        Martin

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        1. Volker von Gloeden

          Hi Martin,

          you are perfectly right and unfortunately Bernd’s statement is incorrect with regards to licenses. BPMon, BP Analytics and the BP Operations dashboards are complete license-free as they come with SAP Solution Manager. There is only a distinguishing factor with regards to usage rights: BPMon (as it was first shipped 10+ years ago) can be used by all SAP customers with at least SAP Standard Support agreement.

          BP Analytics and the BPOps dashboards were only shipped as of Solution Manager 7.0 Enhancement Package 1 and hence can be used by all SAP Enterprise Support, PSLE, SAP MaxAttention or SAP ActiveEmbedded customers, i.e. far more than 90% of the customers.

          What Bernd meant perhaps is the fact that SAP MaxAttention or SAP ActiveEmbedded customers can book premium services where the SAP Active Global Support helps with the technical as well as conceptual implementation of BPMon, BP Analytics and the BP Operations dashboards.

          Also the notion that BPMon and BP Analytics would be limited to backlog measurements is not right. As highlighted in my blog about key figure types BP Analytics can be used for throughput and backlog measurements as well as exception analysis. Additionally you can measure automation rates in order to identify unecessary high proces costs due to too many manual activities. Also all common lead time measurements in SAP ERP are shipped out-of-the-box.

          Kind Regards

          Volker

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          1. Martin Hinderer

            Hello Volker,

            thank you, that clarifies at least the licensing!

            In order to have a big picture of all the applications SAP is providing I tried to draft a big picture (see my post above). If I now understand correct then I would summarize it as follows:

            Overview Draft Applications.jpg

            Would you agree?

            Regards

            MH

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            1. Volker von Gloeden

              Hi Martin,

              yes, that’s a picture that I would support. Process Observer can complement/enhance the functional scope of BP Analytics to measure more complex cycle times (even across systems and involving non-SAP) or complex measurements about document changes. SO from this perspective your picture could be one possible big picture.

              As Process Observer can also be used stand-alone or in conjunction with standard BW and/or Operational Intelligence (OPInt) there could be also other big pictures.

              That’s also the reason why we don’t have this one slide or one roadmap. If you would like to visualize all possibilities then you would require some 5 dimensional PPT 🙂

              Kind Regards

              Volker

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              1. Martin Hinderer

                Thanks for confirming this. You’re most likely right about the fact with 5 dimensional ppts …

                I just came from the view that you compared two things (BPMon, POB) and with the fact that both can be used together it raised immediately the question on how to do that. I like visualizing stuff like that as it makes this easier to understand.

                Now I can think on how to continue with this topic *g*

                Regards

                MH

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  2. Thomas Morgenstern

    Hello Bernd, Volker and Martin,

    is there a new status available regarding the discussed Process Observer Log integration to SAP Solution Manager?

    I have seach in SCN – but found no hint on that.

    Thanks and regards,

    Thomas M.

    (0) 

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