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Author's profile photo Alexander Peter

SAP Analytics Cloud, add-in for MS Office – working with co-auth

Within Microsoft 365, co-authoring feature allows close and efficient collaboration of several team members on the same MS Office document. When you share a document and set editing rights, all recipients can work in the same document at the same time. It is typically automatically saved (auto-save) and changes are reflected for all users immediately.

While this feature is very helpful when creating content-based documents, there might be challenges for analytic workbooks in SAC add-in. If you centrally store and share a workbook and two team members open it at the same time, there might be strange effects: every navigation of one user (e.g., hierarchy navigation, filtering, adding dimensions etc.) is immediately reflected for the other user. Any new planning values of one user will be immediately shown for the other user.

In some cases, this behavior might be suitable – if not, there are a few options to work around this behavior.

In Excel desktop (both Windows and MacOS), you can switch off auto-save. With this, any changes of one user are not immediately stored and reflected in the workbook opened by another user.


Switching off autosave in Excel desktop


The disadvantage is that the end user needs to think of switching it on or off – depending on the content that she/he is working on. In addition, there’s no option to switch it off in Excel Online.

An alternative is to share all workbooks in read-only mode. Note, that in read-only mode, currently the add-in is not loaded and shown. If the user wants to change the workbook, she/he needs to locally store it. On this local copy, any navigation is possible without impacting other users. The user should delete the local copies once in a while to avoid a massive amount of unused local copies. And the user should refrain to open the local file the next time (e.g., via the history) – otherwise possible central changes are not visible.

Here’s an example. A new workbook is shared read-only with other users. Once opened, the SAP Analytics Cloud add-in is not active.


Opening read-only workbook


The user needs to save a local copy. Once opened, the SAP Analytics Cloud add-in is active.

After logging on, the workbook is fully functional and be used in a single-user mode, i.e., any activity is not impacting other users.

Note that we already discussed the scenario with Microsoft and they see the necessity to handle these planning and BI reports in a more flexible manner. However, their planning just started and we should not expect a solution within the next 12 months.

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      Author's profile photo Jef Baeyens
      Jef Baeyens

      How can we prevent users from adding or deleting dimensions in rows/columns or filters? (thereby breaking the input template or potentially saving data on wrong combinations in the planning model)

      In web interface there is a clear distinction between view and design mode of a story.

      Author's profile photo Alexander Peter
      Alexander Peter
      Blog Post Author

      There is no view mode in SAC add-in. We assumed the typical use case for Excel for a power user - who wants to take advantage of Excel features (formulas, references etc.). If you really think, we would need to add a view mode, we will discuss this and prioritize in the future product development.


      Alex Peter

      Author's profile photo Jef Baeyens
      Jef Baeyens

      Hi Alexander,

      SAC add-in could be very helpful for many data input providers (who might have their own local excel files), so not only for power users.

      But in this case, I think there definitely needs to be some more protection options or some sort of controllable restrictions or advanced data validations... Otherwise users could accidentally mess up the planning table template (as it was pre-build for them) and even the whole planning model dataset if they would save wrong data combinations & publish it.

      Author's profile photo Paul McKinsey
      Paul McKinsey

      Hi Alexander,

      Is currently available the command "Add-member" at Excel Add-in for SAC like it is within the web-browser environment?

      Thanks for help.
      Best regards,

      Author's profile photo Alexander Peter
      Alexander Peter
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Paul,

      please follow the roadmap of SAC add-in in roadmap explorer.

      "Add member" is one of our next bigger dev projects - however it will be slightly different than the current SAC implementation. It is rather something like "copy new lines into the table" ... we will update the roadmap explorer in the coming weeks and there you will find more information.