Exploring IBP – APO practitioner’s view
After exploring IBP this quarter, I gathered my thoughts together to share lessons learnt, practical points in this blog. Being a long-time (I dare not state since when) APO practitioner has its advantage exploring SAP IBP but equating everything to APO functionalities has its own peril. But I found trying to understand IBP Model Configuration and other features equating to APO configuration helps in quicker understanding and effective remembering of the core concepts.
The first thing (while waiting for IBP Starter Edition order placement and other technicalities beyond my control) I did was read up as much as possible on IBP S&OP mainly in this SCN space, blogs, Partner Enablement Webinars, Model Reference Guide (although I have to admit most of the content was chaotic in absence of actual system access) and even some of the discussion forum threads. The FAQ document on SCN is pretty comprehensive along with SCM Connections and some other Youtube videos of IBP tool was really helpful as a homework.
But nothing compared when you actually get your hands on to IBP system – its on cloud running on HANA accessible just on an URL / IP Address (we could not connect to from ofifce and then realised needed to request access to override firewall restrictions), no SAP Gui based access but only Web and Excel. The next major hurdle was being familiar with the data model – Attributes, Master Data Types, Keyfigure (ok I know that), Time Profiles, Planning Area etc. unlearning quite a bit of APO DP data model on the way. Once you get the hang of the core IBP Data Model components the next hurdle is to understand how Excel UI works and getting your head around Planning Views which are Excel template files with embedded EPM magic. The best thing to learn about Planning Views is to read, re-read and play with the attached Excel template files in SAP Note 1790530. TIP – before using any of the Excel files as templates copy the files in separate folder. Once you have selected Edit View option after opening any one file it will get Planning Area level details embedded in it. You cannot really switch it to another Planning Area. Explore Chart Feeder worksheet and play around it to understand high level how it drives the main Excel Planning view with embedded Chart. It is time to brush up Excel functions and explore the other hidden worksheet EPMFormattingSheet. Getting a good grip around these is essential in designing good, efficient Planning Views as per client or your own design requirements.
This is also the time to review latest version of the Model Reference Guide (140 page long in current 4.0.2 version) in detail even though it does not make useful sense in first reading. It helps paying particular attention to Planning Model section 2 and Activating Planning Models section 12 including Troubleshooting Model Activation Errors section. The Global Configurations is another section to review, most of the basic required ones are setup as default but it makes sense to review and update DEFAULT_PLAN_AREA parameter of HOME_PAGE group, TEMPLATE_PERMISSION under PLAN_VIEW group; MOVING_AVG_MODE under FORECAST group; STAGCLEANUP under INTEGRATION; SCN_COUNT_MAX under SCENARIO. Refer to the Model Configuration Guide – Miscellaneous Settings Section (16.4) for more details including explanation on the required settings.
Among the initial Planning Model setup, I found Time Profile as most challenging. It took me quite some time to finally figure out the exact date / period sequence to be entered and the importance of Period ID naming. And the fact how to manage period start date/time stamp in yyyy-mm-dd hh:mm:ss format in Excel and keep it same in csv file format required to upload. Another finding was the start and end date of Time Profile setting need not match with the dates you are loading through csv file. This means if you have defined your Time Profile for 5 years horizon, it is perfectly okay to create a period data file for first 1 year, load it successfully and then proceed with creating data for next years and reload the file back. Another tip is to use Excel to create the file save it as .csv format, open in Notepad to validate the contents before trying to upload in IBP – Data Integration option. Note this is not just for Time Profile but useful for Master Data and Keyfigure data load as well.