Last year, SAP made SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation 7.0, version for SAP NetWeaver, generally available at the best possible time. It was April 2009, and companies struggling with the aftermath of the global economic crisis needed a solution to help them become more agile in their planning processes. They needed to adapt to dynamic market conditions yet keep costs in check by leveraging their existing infrastructure components and skill sets.
One year later, SAP continues to deliver on all counts with the latest iteration of the solution: SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation 7.5, version for SAP NetWeaver. The enhanced solution is the only unified planning, budgeting, reporting, and consolidation product that is tightly integrated with the SAP NetWeaver platform, yet is still designed to be owned and managed by the business user.
There are a number of enhancements and new features in the 7.5 release of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver, to help you deliver insight from your entire system landscape. This article focuses on three of them.
With this article and stories like it (to follow in future issues of SAPinsider), readers will learn how to wield their enterprise performance management (EPM) and governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) efforts for strategic and competitive advantage.
Improve Consistency and Efficiency with Business Process Flows
In a typical organization, planning and forecasting can be time-consuming, cumbersome, and inaccurate. Companies spend an inordinate amount of time and resources attempting to collaboratively input, collect, aggregate, and report on their information.
To alleviate this resource drain, business process flows (BPFs)1 provide controllable, consistent, and collaborative planning and consolidation processes, while simultaneously delivering guidance to individual contributors. BPFs enable the finance organization to implement processes across the enterprise by designing the logical flow, reviews, and approvals needed to drive planning and forecasting exercises.
Customers have two different BPF views to choose from. The Monitor view within SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver, is a global view enabling executives and reviewers to see the progress of a process (or processes) across the entire organization. Within this view, a user can:
- View BPF steps by department, region, or appropriate organizational grouping to better understand the process and its status
- View progress by the number of steps or percentage complete
- View owners and reviewers to see who the players are in the process and where they are in completing the functional processes
- Filter and sort views to quickly see information
- Run reports on BPF activities
Alternatively, the My Activities view provides a personalized view of step completion status and activities assigned to a specific user. Through this view, the owner or contributor can visualize a personal “to do” list of processes that are in progress and require attention (see Figure 1).
||Sample personal BPF view
Access Data More Quickly with Drill-Through to Source Systems
In the 7.5 release of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver, users can now drill-through to source systems to explore detailed information on transactions without having to replicate data in the SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation application.
This drill-through capability enables users to access data in various targets, including:
- SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (SAP NetWeaver BW) — for example, an SAP Business Explorer (SAP BEx) Web report
- SAP ERP — via the Internet Transaction Server
- SAP BusinessObjects BI tool reports — for example, an SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence report
- Any source that can be accessed via a URL
To help users get up to speed quickly on this capability, the solution includes a configuration wizard to assist with the creation of drill-through paths (see Figure 2).
||The configuration wizard
Get the Right Data by Integrating with SAP BusinessObjects BI Solutions
SAP BusinessObjects BI solutions — including Xcelsius, SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence, and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer — are a powerful ally for finance organizations responsible for planning and forecasting. Now users can leverage these BI solutions to access information directly from SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation so that information can be shared with users beyond the realm of the finance group over the Web. Companies can also leverage these investments for a common reporting interface across all sources of information in the organization. Access is made even easier with the single sign-on capabilities and multiple authentication types that are supported via the Central Management Server (part of the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise platform).
By integrating SAP BusinessObjects BI tools with SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver, customers can benefit in the following ways:
- Xcelsius. Users can create and embed Xcelsius dashboards (see Figure 3) that display the variances between planned and actual key performance indicators (KPIs), completed process steps, or any other dashboard-ready information directly within SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation. Xcelsius dashboards provide managers and executives with high-level, interactive views of key information pertaining to planning, budgeting, forecasting, and financial consolidation processes. The dashboards read live data from SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, automatically changing the display as the user changes viewing options.
||Xcelsius dashboards (licensed separately) embedded directly within SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation offer managers highly interactive views of KPIs and other relevant data within the application
- SAP BusinessObjects Voyager. Users can deploy SAP BusinessObjects Voyager for advanced analysis of multi-dimensional data sets from several sources, including SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, SAP NetWeaver BW, Microsoft Analysis Services, Oracle Essbase, and others.
- SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence. Users can create and modify Web-based reports containing SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation data and data from other sources.
- SAP BusinessObjects Explorer. Any business user can now quickly and easily explore SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation within the SAP BusinessObjects Explorer interface.
By expanding the reach of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, SAP gives companies the ability to improve agility, reduce cycle time, and increase user productivity.
New Release, New Benefits for Business and IT
The latest release of SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver, expands the value of the solution for both business and IT professionals. Business users, including those in finance, will benefit from embedded process flow capabilities and increased insight into information, while IT professionals will be better positioned to leverage their existing skill sets and technology investments. Both groups are better able to focus on the high-value projects that drive a company forward.
Please visit www.sap.com/americas/solutions/sapbusinessobjects/large/enterprise-performance-management/planningandconsolidation for more information about SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver.
David Williams (email@example.com) is Director of Solution Marketing, responsible for SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation. He has worked in product and marketing-related roles at a number of business intelligence and performance management software companies. You can see David regularly speaking at user conferences, industry shows, and on webcasts.
1 Business process flows are a series of business process steps, which can be tailored to your organization's specific needs, that must be completed in sequential order. [back]