Introduction to the Planning Area Optimization for SAP Analytics Cloud
We are very pleased to release a performance optimization for planning users called the Planning Area. This optimization was released to SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) as part of QRC 4 2021 and will be available only for Planning models. This blog post will discuss the benefits of this capability by:
- Providing overview and context for the innovation
- Configuring this capability
- Showcasing the end-user experience
While not intended to be overly technical, this blog will assume some basic familiarity with SAP Analytics Cloud and planning activities.
For those of us that prefer to watch a video versus reading, we have included a link to a short video on this feature that walks through the configuration and end-user experience for this feature. We have linked to the QRC4 Roadmap webinar presented by Scott Godfree, a Product Manager for SAP Analytics Cloud, who focuses on planning topics The Planning Area is discussed at 18:00 – 26:45, which also contains a brief demo.
To set the context for this discussion, we are going to define the Planning Area as a region of data within the model that is plannable by the end-user within a story or via data/multi-actions. Currently, when planning on a public version within a story, for example, there is an implicit private version that is created from the public version where the user updates the plan. We are calling this an implicit private version because the version is not readily transparent to the planner as it is a technical construct to accelerate planning functions. However, for models with large versions, there is some overhead to creating this implicit private version from both a time and system resource perspective, which provides the opportunity for optimization.
The Planning Area optimization is intended to reduce the scope of the implicit private version to contain data that is editable by the planner within a story or via data/multi-actions. Data contained within the optimized Planning Area will be joined with data from the model to provide a holistic view of the data based on the user’s data permissions. In practical terms, this means that once the toggle is enabled, planners will be able to view data that are both read-only and plannable in a table in a holistic manner. The Planning Area optimization can be used when creating private versions as well.
Fortunately, it is easy to set the Planning Area Optimization toggle. This toggle is included in model preferences in the Data and Performance tab, see Figure 1. By default, this toggle will not be enabled, which is especially important for existing models. and will need to be enabled by the modeler to leverage. To take advantage of this function, the modeler will need to configure either data access controls and/or data locking. The configuration of these elements is beyond the scope of this paper.
Please remember, we are optimizing the Planning Area by minimizing the scope of the area available to each planner that is editable. When basing this optimization based on data access controls, this would be driven off the ‘write’ permission and from a data locking perspective, this would be driven off regions that are not locked. Planning scenarios where the editable space is minimized will provide the greatest benefits. However, this will likely vary by user based on Data Access Control (DAC) and by step in the planning process when model locking is employed.
While optimizing the Planning Area may help with performance and managing system resources, it is the changes to the user experience that will be most interesting to the planner. Included in Figure 2, we are showing the user experience for a planner that is updating the sales for several bike lines. Notice that the planner does not have any visual cues as to what cells are write-enabled or where there may be data locks.
We can contrast this with the results in Figure 3, which shows the table after the planning area was applied to the public version and the user has started data entry activities. Starting data entry activities can either mean editing a public version in a table or selecting ‘Version’ in the table display, opening the cell menu via a right-click, and enabling “Start Edit Mode” from the version menu. Notice that this action will trigger the implicit private version and we will now have a visual indicator for what cells are plannable by the user. When we create an explicit private version, we will experience consistent behavior for the application of the planning area without additional steps. This will make planning more intuitive and minimize planning on cells that are either read-only or previously locked.
Every customer should consider optimizing the planning area for your planning models. This is especially true when models contain large versions that may be resource-intensive. From a planner’s perspective, this could be as simple as the delay when editing a public version in a table. However, to get the most out of this approach, Data Access Controls and Data Locking strategies may also need to be reviewed. Some tangible benefits include:
- Minimizing overall size of private version editing
- Improved data entry and version copy performance
- Input readiness for data entry cells based on Data Access Control and/or Data Locking
Additional details related to the Planning Area will be maintained in the SAP help.