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 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 Monitoring, see http://scn.sap.com/community/it-management/alm/solution-manager/blog/2009/07/23/functional-scope-of-business-process-monitoring-in-sap-solution-manager
For more information about Business Process Analytics, see http://scn.sap.com/docs/DOC-48233.
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:
- Use predefined KPIs and further capabilities offered by BPMon/BPAnalytics.
- Build custom reports / UIs on top of Process Observer and application data in SAP BI or SAP HANA.
- Extend with SAP Operational Process Intelligence (SAP OPInt) powered by SAP HANA for 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.
- 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.
- 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.