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Author's profile photo Daniel Lauer

Enrich your planning process with the new workflow capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud

Dear SAP Analytics Cloud community

with the 2021 Q1 release we introduce great new functionalities to the Calendar in SAP Analytics Cloud that will allow you to create even more advanced planning processes.

In this blog post you’ll learn the new calendar characteristics and the best practices on how to use them as part of your planning processes.

 

New Task Types

Enterprise planning processes can become very huge and complex. To cope with that complexity it requires a process modeling tool that on the one hand provides the capabilities and flexibility to model processes to the very details, and on the other hand hides the complexity from the end users to ensure ease of use.

In order to balance these two requirements we’re introducing new task types:

  • Composite Task to easily model simple approval processes in an integrated approach.
  • General Task and Review Task as fine granular task types to model advanced planning processes in more detail.

The task types are very flexible and can transform into one another. This gives you the freedom to start with a lightweight planning processes without loosing the flexibility to use advanced capabilities whenever it’s needed.

Let’s now have a look on the details.

Composite Task

This task type covers the functionalities of the former General Task and extends it with great, new capabilities to give you full flexibility.

The following three key capabilities remain:

  • You can add multiple assignees followed by one to many optional review rounds. The submission behavior slightly changes though which is explained in the next paragraph.
  • You can add work files to support your assignees by fulfilling their task.
  • You can define a task context that is passed as filters to the work file so assignees can focus on the relevant data.

Let’s now have a look on the new functionalities of the Composite Task.

Collaborative task submission 

Composition Tasks better support the collaboration of multiple assignees on the same task. In the past each assignee of the same task needed to submit the task separately of the other assignees –  the task was only accomplished if all assignees have submitted.
Now, a single assignee can submit the task on behalf of all other assignees. This brings much more agility to your planning process as reviewers can start their reviewing earlier and with more confidence. The collaborative submission behavior applies to each review round as well. Each Reviewer can submit on behalf of all reviewers of the specific review round.

Time Distribution

Whereas there was only one start and due date in the former General Task, you now have dedicated start and due dates for assignees and reviewers. This gives you the flexibility to determine in more detail which user group should be finished at a specific time. If assignees or a review round submits prior to their personal due date, the successors will be notified so they could already start earlier.

Conversion behavior

Composite Tasks are great if you want to hide certain complexity and therefore group multiple steps in one calendar object. But you can also convert a Composite Task and its steps to a process with individual tasks. That makes sense in the following cases:

  • As an process owner you’d like to maintain and monitor your planning process in more detail.
  • You need more flexibility to model advanced planning processes with high demands on approval procedures.
  • As an assignee of a task you’d like to delegate it down the organization.

A converted Composite Task results in a process that contains a General Task for the assignees, followed by a sequence of Review Tasks, one for each review round.
General Task and Review Task are two new task types which are explained further below.

Each Review Task has a dependency on its predecessor task. That means that the Review Task starts automatically as soon as its predecessor task has been accomplished.
For the time being dependencies are created implicitly. However dependencies is a strategic investment area and we’ll add more functionalities in the future that will allow you to explicitly model more complex dependencies between tasks and processes.

Converting a Composite Task with two review rounds

 

General Task

Since the new Composite Task provides you with all functionalities to design common planning processes, we decided to further simplify the General Task. It now comes without the review step.

For the time being you can’t create a general task from scratch. It’s implicitly created when you convert a Composite Task. Vice versa you can convert a General Task back to a Composite Task in case you want to add new review steps to it.

Review Task

A Review Task represents one Review Round of your planning process. It can have multiple reviewers.

For the time being you can’t create a Review Task from scratch. It is implicitly created when you convert a Composite Task.

As we’ll introduce more powerful modeling features in future, this task type will become more important as it paths the way to model more complex approval scenarios.

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Best practices on designing custom-tailored planning processes

The new task types and their conversion behavior provide you with the flexibility you need to design your process to the very details. In the next paragraph you learn how to make use of the new features to lift your planning processes to higher levels.

Combining Top-Down and Bottom-Up Planning

Organizing tasks in a hierarchical structure is a widely used approach in corporate planning.

Whereas Top-Down planning ensures the alignment of different sub-plans with the overall company strategy and goals, it sometimes neglects opportunities and threats that might exist on lower levels.
On the other hand Bottom-Up planning early involves employees that are well aware of strengths and weaknesses of their departments. This results in plans that are more accurate and realistic, but sometimes less ambitious or inconsistent with one another.

Combining Top-Down and Bottom-Up Planning requires a flexible planning process that can easily adapt to planning specifics on lower levels of the organization. While the planning process structure may be well defined on high level, on lower level it may be more diverse and agile. Therefore a static process won’t work.

In the Calendar of SAP Analytics Cloud you can now leverage the best of both approaches. It allows you to start your planning process top-down while the involved responsible persons can easily break-down their tasks and delegate to lower levels if needed.

Let’s have a look on the following example.

“BestRun Bike” is a globally operating bike retailer. The Global Controlling organization is in the process of collecting the forecast sales numbers of each region for the upcoming quarter Q1-2021. This time they want to set global targets on region level but let each region responsible decide on which granularity they want to provide their forecast.

Step 1: Top Down process initiation

Global Controlling creates a process that contains one Composite Task for each region. Each region responsible is assigned to the respective task.

Initial forecast process on region level

Step 2: Breakdown from region to country level

Each region responsible can decide to either provide the numbers directly for the whole region or break down the task to more fine grain tasks on country level.

The responsible for Asia Pacific, let’s call her “Christin”, wants to collect her region numbers bottom up from country level and delegates her task to her direct reports on country level. To achieve this Christin makes use of the new conversion behavior of composite tasks to split it to country specific tasks.

If an assignee converts a composite task, this results in a process that includes another process. The inner process represents Christin’s former task in which she can now create new tasks to delegate to the country responsibles.

Assignee converts Composite Task to Process

Christin is responsible for various countries in Asia Pacific so she needs to create many tasks.  For this purpose she makes use of the Task Wizard. Task Wizard is a helpful tool to create many tasks in one go and having responsible persons and work files assigned automatically.

After she has created the country specific tasks, the process looks as follows.

process%20broken%20down%20to%20country%20specific%20tasks

Asia Pacific process broken down to country specific tasks

Step 3: Collecting the results bottom up

Christin’s directs who are responsible for the different countries could now follow the same approach and break their task further down, or just keep their task and fulfill it on country level. Christin can monitor each country task individually and accept or reject their results. If she agrees with all results, she can submit her process for Asia Pacific. As soon as Christin’s peers who are responsible for Europe and the United States have submitted their tasks, the overall process “Forecast Q1 2021” will be accomplished as well.

This example shows how you can easily initiate a planning process top-down and leave the further operationalization of it to the involved peoples on lower levels.

Modeling planning processes more fine granular

In the new Composite Task you now have dedicated start and due dates for Assignees and Review Rounds. With the distribution slider you can define which portion of the task duration is  available for the assignees to fulfill their task and which portion is reserved for the review. In case of multiple review rounds the reserved time is distributed equally.

Time%20distribution%20of%20a%20Composite%20Task%20with%20two%20review%20rounds

Time distribution of a Composite Task with two review rounds

If you like to control the different parts of your Composite Task in even more details, you can do that by converting the task to a process. Assignees and all review rounds will now have their own tasks that you can maintain independent of each other. The workflow behavior though remains the same as in the aggregated Composite Task. This means that the first review task will be triggered automatically as soon as the assignee has submitted their task.

cdfc

Disaggregating a Composite Task with two review rounds

For the time being dependencies exist implicitly between the different task, however we’ll allow to design more complex and custom built dependencies in the future. Working with fine granular tasks will then allow you to design processes that automatically trigger a Data Action Task or Data Locking Task as soon as an assignee has submitted a task. This will lift your planning process on a higher level as it will run automated and with more intelligence.

Please also have a look on the below quick links for more details.


Quick links

 

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      3 Comments
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      Author's profile photo B. Jef
      B. Jef

      Great first additions and looking forward to more. When will we see a roadmap item for "task dependencies" in roadmap explorer?

      Author's profile photo David Sinkmajer
      David Sinkmajer

      Hi Daniel,

      could you please share with us roadmap for future capabilities? I am interested in automatically triggered Data Action and Data Locking Tasks.

      Thank you

      David

      Author's profile photo Sead Pozderac
      Sead Pozderac

      Hi David Sinkmajer,

      Data Actions can already be scheduled via the Calendar today. Data Locks are also available as tasks in the Calendar. With QRC2.2021 data locks can be automatically set based on date/time.

      You can find the roadmap here: https://roadmaps.sap.com/board?range=CURRENT-LAST&BC=6EAE8B27FCC11ED892E91C2A1DFA40CC#Q1%202021

      Regards,
      Sead