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Leveraging S/4HANA cloud best practices with SAP Analytics Cloud

The S/4HANA cloud solution already includes for several months the SAP Analytics Cloud embedded version. This version offers a variety of possibilities how to create new stories directly from S/4HANA, how to accelerate the development of beautiful and meaningful dashboards and how to unpack predefined content which supports a fit to standard project or a set of requirements.

In this blog I will cover the new integration points between S/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud, what type of content is available and how to remediate common technical issues when activating the predefined content.

Background

SAP announced the SAP Analytics Cloud embedded version for SAP Cloud Platform during SAP TechEd 2019, it was officially released for customers in the beginning of February 2020.

This announcement is aligned with the “cloud first” strategy of SAP and a closer look on this new offering highlights several points:

  • SAP Analytics Cloud going to be integrated with the rest of SAP cloud solutions: SuccessFactors, S/4HANA cloud, C/4HANA, SAP Fieldglass and in near future roadmap SAP Ariba.

Source: Embedded and Enterprise Strategy for SAP Analytics Cloud.

 

For Ariba the embedded version is planned to be released during the second quarter of 2020 along with some other interesting functionality.

Source: #askSAP Analytics Innovations Community Call 202003

  • The embedded version as it’s name implies is embedded directly in SAP cloud systems which means you are not using a standard the SAP Analytics Cloud instance where a user logins and browse through the folders and interacts with stories – it is available only through a guided menu entry or in the case of S/4HANA cloud – directly from tiles and from the KPI and reports management.
  • The embedded version is a thin version of the full enterprise edition and covers mainly the BI capabilities although Search to insight and Smart insights are part of the embedded road map. The full comparison between the embedded and the enterprise edition can be viewed here:

  • All the available stories and new stories are based on the Live connection and on analytical queries generated on top of ABAP CDS views. In S/4HANA cloud there are more than 240 analytical queries available that can be accessed through the Custom Analytical Queries tile and can be used as is in S/4HANA Cloud, as a basis for a SAP Analytics Cloud story and through Analysis for Office.

When refreshing a story in S/4HANA  you can check which queries are being in us or directly through the Manage KPIs and Reports Tile in the Stories section.

  • The use case is leveraging SAP best practices which are ideal for fit to standard requirements providing the business users access to embedded reports based on predefined LOB solutions , enabling them to start using reports from day one, decreasing the requirements for additional report development while using a unified presentation for all users.

Furthermore working with the SAP Analytics Cloud Enterprise version is possible as well if you require to address other use cases such as planning, predictive, analytics and hybrid scenarios where the underlying systems can be both on premise and cloud. The SAP Analytics Cloud enterprise instance will be a completely separate instance where the integration with the same S/4HANA cloud instance will be based on he the live data connection setup, the Identity provider configuration through the SAP Cloud platform and the SAP best practices packages solution execution.

Here is how the two scenarios diagram looks like:

source: SAP Analytics Cloud Embedded Analytics in Line of Business

SAP Analytics Cloud and S/4HANA Cloud options

There are several options available in S/4HANA cloud for leveraging SAC stories:

  • Using the existing SAC stories – there are couple of dozens predefined SAC stories scattered between several processes such as AP, AR, group reporting and some other areas. These dashboards can be accessed directly through tiles or through the main Manage KPIs and Reports tile.

The stories are based on SAP Best Practices explorer for S/4HANA cloud and can be found in the Rapid SAP site where a full description of each solution item and it’s configuration is available. The best practices explorer enables to run the project scope and choose only the relevant items that will be delivered to the client, thus aligning both the content with the project scope and the use of best practices as an accelerated starting point.

 A standard process would be to click on the corresponding tile, in this particular example in the Analytics for Account payable there is an SAC story that can be launched directly from the tile. Once the story is launched the user can interact with the dashboard: filter, add ranks, use comparisons, jump to and run further interaction based on the functionality available in the embedded version.

  • Another way is to create a new story directly from the Manage KPIs and Reports tile by using the add button and after a quick setup in the configuration tab we can create a brand new story based on of the available analytical queries.

After filling all the mandatory information required for creating the new story and the optional ones in the definition tab we will be able to create a story based on SAP Analytical Cloud. If you are wondering how analytical queries are born check out this useful tutorial and if you are looking for a repository of available  analytical queries you can simply check the Fiori app library while filtering the results on application type – Fiori – Analytical & product Suite – SAP S/4HANA Cloud.

Once we are happy with the story design, functionality and appearance we can activate the story and publish it into one the relevant Fiori app segment.

In order to deploy the SAC stories a Fiori tile format should be picked from the following list ,as a standard Fiori type the left tile type is used for launching a story.

After filling all the mandatory fields the SAC story will be ready for publishing and becoming available for the next step which is the catalog assigning.

Last step would be to assign the relevant catalogs and publishing them so the new tile can appear and be come available for the business users with the corresponding business roles.

Once the story is published to the catalogs it will become available as a new Fiori tile.

Working with the SAC Enterprise edition and S/4HANA cloud

As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the embedded and the enterprise versions can live side by side although currently there is no integration between them in the sense that stories developed in the embedded version can be moved to the enterprise version, but it is planned as part of the cloud first strategy.

Once all the perquisites steps are in place the SAC instance and the S/4 to communication are set, we can start building stories and dashboards based on the S/4HANA cloud live connection.

The main drivers for building the stories using the enterprise instance would be:

  • Blending data from different sources and connection types
  • Using planning scenarios
  • Using smart assist features for the live models like smart discovery and smart insights
  • Digital boardroom ,Analytics Catalogue (SAP Analytics HUB) and Analytics Designer use cases.

Working with the best practices solutions

Through the Content network twe can chose which predefined content and LOB solutions to import. If you are looking to check which LoB solution are available there are lot’s of great resources that support it:

The LoB and Industry Content for SAP Digital Boardroom & Analytics Cloud provided a great overview and preview of the LoB pre packaged solutions:

https://www.sapanalytics.cloud/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/SAP_SAC_Content_Roll_out_CI12_2019_EXT.pdf

And for a full documentation (only 727 pages 😊) have a good look here:

https://help.sap.com/doc/f04e1b585e9e40548d4e8de7582c9dfc/release/en-US/Documentation_SAP_SAC_CONT.pdf

Once you run a search on “best practice “ (not best practices as you will miss the treasury management pack) you will get the current full list aligned with the sap raid best practices explorer.

The content can be import by choosing each relevant package but not before you have established the S/4HANA live connection using the naming convention SAPEMC. Each pack describes what content is going to be unpacked and also mentions the best practice scope item ID.

If you didn’t established yet the SAPEMC connection you will get the following warning in the import notification status:

Once you set this connection (must be S/4HANA cloud and use the exact naming convention) you will be able to fully activate the content and start using it.

As the connection name can’t be changed after it was created, it is recommended to change the data source of the data model into the S/4HANA cloud live connection which is using the right naming convention.

Once the option Change Data Source is picked the connection can be changed into the connection we want to replace with.

 

Any story which is based on the model/s that their data source was changed will continue to work as expected, connecting directly to your S/4HANA cloud instance using the live connection. The auto refresh interval can be set to 30 seconds as the minimum latency time.

Creating new stories   

The process of creating a new story based on the S/4HANA Cloud live connection is straightforward:

First creating a model based on an analytical query available in the S/4 cloud system.

then saving the model in the designated folder

Then simply choosing that model as the basis for creating a new story and creating it using the SAC functionality.

What’s next

With the recent newest version of S/4HANA cloud 2005 there already additional pre-packaged content available, if you are looking for a deep dive reading you can go through the full What’s new version or follow the 2005 blog series.

There are new pre-packaged solutions available for FI, Sales, Asset management and other areas while the roadmap for 2020 will continue to deliver new analytics content that will cover more and more use cases.

Source: Analytics with S/4HANA what’s new 1911 & 2002

As there are some constraints at the moment with the smart assist and Smart predict there is a very interesting roadmap ahead for both the smart assist and the smart predict.

The Smart assist roadmap for 2020 is the following:

source: Analytics with S/4HANA what’s new 1911 & 2002

The smart predict roadmap for 2020 is the following:

source: Analytics with S/4HANA what’s new 1911 & 2002

Conclusion

SAP Analytics Cloud opens a whole new world of integration options that cab be whether accessed directly from S/4 or further enhanced through the Enterprise instance to take the full capabilities of SAC.

As you saw there is a great plan ahead and a wide pool of predefined content that should get you started fast from day one of your analytics project.

It is recommended to go through the best practices explorer and make sure that your project scope items are including the analytics best practices scope items while understanding the options and the use case both the Enterprise & the Embedded versions offers.

Hope you had a good helpful read and you are mostly welcomed to ask questions and respond.

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