Is your business ready for real time reporting?
The real time reporting allows you to monitor activities as they happen, and take actions accordingly. Thanks to SAP HANA, the reports/dashboards can be updated immediately to reflect the latest status of activities. When you think about it, it sounds like a great idea. However, before rushing to implement it, there are several aspects of the real time reporting that need to be addressed;
From the IT perspective; it’s just updating the business facing reports/dashboards/alerts as transactions as they occur. But the following questions should be answered first;
- Business users and customers expect real-time data availability all the time. As an IT organization, we have to ensure resources are in place to support it in infrastructure, development, and at analyst level.
- End users would have to be informed that data is refreshed immediately to avoid unnecessary reconciliations.
- There are always skeptical users, how can they reconcile data when the things are changing all the time?
- There are many EDW reports show the data until EOD yesterday. Should we remove the date restrictions?
- If operational reports from ECC show real time data, but EDW reports show the data from yesterday, will the EDW reports disabled/discontinued/altered?
- Since readily available data exist, organizations need to decide if operational data to be extracted to EDW anymore, or eliminated.
- Do you have real-time data for all functions to work efficiently? For example if sales orders are real-time, shipment data should be real-time as well
- How do we align our current backup, DR, HA, Risk, Audit, regulation strategies to real time reporting?
- Are the SLAs, procedures for tickets/defects reflected with real-time? It’s harder to resolve an issue when target is moving(real-time data changing). Same applies to business as well
- For our business continuity, we must consider updating our test scripts, training docs
- If for example SLT replication server and/or network connection have issues to prevent loading real-time data, do you have ways to alert business immediately? In other words how would the business know if the latest information they have is really the latest data?’
- What are the impacts to other systems/SW/applications/middleware etc?
From the business perspective it may get even more challenging;
- Moving from a nightly, weekly update to a continuous update will require different business processes, approaches, strategies and corporate culture. Is your business ready?
- Are your suppliers aligned and ready to provide goods and services after you transformed your business? For example, now you can see critically reduced inventory in one of your distribution center. Are your shipping companies and distribution centers re-structured/re-organized to dispatch/receive goods from another distribution center immediately?
- Usually monthend processes are executed using EDW reports. Have the business processes transformed to run monthends in ECC, or do they even need a monthend closing now?
- Is real-time data desired for all your business units?
- If your ECC is real-time but SRM, CRM, Planning systems are not, when a supplier calls for a dispute for example how do you/helpdesk resolve the issue?
These sample questions shouldn’t slow us down to move forward, yet they should be addressed to make us better prepared and be sure everybody knows what it takes to deliver and support it end-to-end.