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Reporting with Duet: Reports the Way You Want Them

by Microsoft and SAP

April 1, 2007

by Microsoft and SAP SAP NetWeaver Magazine - Volume 3, Issue 4
System Prerequisites for Duet Reports and Analytics
  • Windows Exchange Server 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2003/2007
SAP for Transactional Reports (ALV)
  • SAP ERP 2004 or SAP ERP 6.0
  • SAP for Analytics Report (SAP NetWeaver BI)
  • SAP NetWeaver BI 3.5* or 7.0*
    *Supporting all BI data sources,
    including R/3

Getting reports the way you want them has been a major goal for ERP systems. Duet for Microsoft Office and SAP offers reporting for users that is in an intuitive format and context and requires no more than five minutes of training.

Several years ago, many organizations felt paralyzed in their decision-making because they couldn’t get the reports they wanted when they needed them. Then came integrated ERP systems, such as SAP, and business information warehouses, such as SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (SAP NetWeaver BI). Today, the issue is not a matter of whether you can have certain reports, but how you get them and whether that process makes sense to the person who needs them.

Duet overcomes that challenge by making a litany of reports available with the tools regularly employed during a normal business day — Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Word.

But while many reporting tools generate reports in those applications, access has become an issue. In this age of Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, easier access also may mean a loss of compliance. A typical scenario would be that a business analyst might generate a report and email it to an information worker. Then the information leaves the system, and there’s no way to track where it goes. Duet takes advantage of SAP’s security protocols to keep the data in the system and makes it available to only those users who are authorized to access it.

Duet Reporting for the User

Duet allows information workers to “subscribe” to reports, much as they would subscribe to a Web site or a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed. Through the Duet Action Pane, which appears in Outlook, users can choose the reports they want to receive and how often they want to see them.

Because Duet is integrated into Outlook, it’s almost invisible to the user. Reports are delivered like email, but they are put into the Reports mail folder in the Outlook navigation pane to the left. Clicking on the folder “Duet Reporting” opens its homepage, which is a “marketplace” for reporting. End users can see a calendar of their scheduled reports, run favorite reports, subscribe to new reports, or view report updates (see the Duet Reporting folder homepage screen below).

With the Duet Reporting folder homepage, users can view all their scheduled reports by week and easily run their favorite reports. The tab “Available Subscriptions” shows all the reports to which a user can subscribe.

When a report is delivered to a user (see the Duet report email screen below), the Duet Action Pane, which appears on the right side of the report, provides contextual actions specific to the particular report. Therefore, the information worker can open it in Excel, access any related reports, or design a personalized template based on the report — (the equivalent of saving a variant in the SAP graphical user interface (GUI).

A Duet report is delivered to the body of an email and the Duet Action Pane on the right side of the screen provides the actions relevant to that report (e.g., open in Excel), as well as any related reports.

Duet leverages existing SAP security roles and authorizations to protect sensitive data, so users only have access to the data they’ve been approved to see. In addition, Duet provides administrators with control over the forwarding options. For each report, they can specify: no forwarding allowed, forward as a file, forward as a file and template, or forward as a template. Users must have the proper roles to receive a report as a template.

Configuring Duet Reporting

Administrators configure Duet Reporting using the SAP Implementation Guide. Configuration is a three-step process: setting up report details, assigning roles, and specifying report parameter behavior. Within the Admin user interface (UI), you can specify a report and assign it to a Duet role that is mapped to an existing SAP role. When a new report template is available, the Duet client fetches it for those users in an allowed role.

The screen for administrators to set up report details, below, relies on a straightforward, five-step process to establish the usage parameters for a report. The five yellow boxes on the screen indicate the five steps.

The five steps an administrator takes to set up the details for a report.
  1. Specify the name of the report. Duet supports any SAP List Viewer (ALV)-enabled transactional report or any SAP NetWeaver BI report.

  2. Specify the forward options and delivery type (PDF, Excel, HTML, Duet Report that appears in the body of the email).

  3. Assign documentation, a customizable description of the report for end users.

  4. Set active flag. Switching this on makes the report available to users.

  5. Define the report’s title.

Once the report details are specified, the report must be assigned to roles via the task Assign Multiple Roles (see the overview of added entries screen, below). Assign the report to as many roles as necessary, and lastly, the administrator needs to specify the report parameter behavior and any default values.

In this case, all Duet users will have access to the report template (see “Assign Multiple Roles” box on the screen).

Duet also comes with catalogs of preconfigured reports so administrators can easily get Reporting up and running. They simply click a checkbox to activate the desired reports.

The preconfigured catalogs complement the existing Duet scenario and address such areas as: SAP Human Capital Management (SAP HCM), SAP Financials, SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM), SAP Supplier Relationship Management (SAP SRM), Travel Management, eRecruiting, and SAP Supply Chain Management (SAP SCM).

Meeting User Reporting Needs

When fully implemented, Duet Reporting enables you to get the information you need in the familiar Microsoft Outlook interface and in a way that mirrors how you use that application and others in Microsoft Office. It takes advantage of the security protocols already existing within SAP, so if you use existing roles, access controls, and infrastructure, getting up and running will be quick and future security issues unlikely. Duet provides reports the way you want them while maintaining control in the manner that IT managers like it. Are you ready to let your users experience Duet?

To learn more about reporting with Duet for Microsoft Office and SAP, please visit the Duet presentations and demos at SAP TechEd 2007 and SAP Insider Reporting and Analytics 2007 events.

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