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Supply Chain Info Center: Operational Analytics Application for SAP APO

by Somnath Manna, Senior Managing Consultant and SAP SCM Product Champion, IBM GBS Global Delivery

March 20, 2014

Learn about the Supply Chain Info Center, a new operational analytics application for SAP Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO) based on HANA Live. Understand the concept of operational analytics and HANA Live technology and see how to set up the Supply Chain Info Center application.


The new add-on Supply Chain Info Center application provides analytics with dashboards and key performance indicators (KPIs) for four dashboard applications: Forecast Accuracy, Supply Projection, Stock Coverage, and Capacity Analysis. It uses Advanced Planning and Optimization (APO), Demand Planning (DP), and Supply Network Planning (SNP) data.

The data source is liveCache. Using replication models in liveCache the data is replicated in real time in a virtual data model (VDM) of the HANA system. Supply Chain Info Center is the user interface (UI) that uses this VDM data to display dashboards in overview, drill-down, and detailed view levels. The data is displayed in real time (or as soon as APO liveCache data is replicated), thus providing operational analytic capability.

The Supply Chain Info Center does not require a separate GUI (SAP GUI or SAP NetWeaver Business Client). Instead, you access it using a browser (Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer). Thus, you have zero client footprint in the user device (i.e., no need to deploy any client GUI package such as SAP GUI or SAP NetWeaver Business Client. This simplifies deployment and maintenance of client GUIs.

I describe the overall process of setting up and using the operational analytics capability of the Supply Chain Info Center. The high-level steps are as follows:

  1. Replication Model setup (mapping APO Keyfigures to HANA data model)
  2. Replicate data from liveCache to HANA database
  3. Consume replicated data in Supply Chain Info Center Dashboards
Operational Analytics Concept

Operational analytics as a concept focuses on providing an integrated analytic capability to review and slice and dice transactional data to enable better decision making. Operational analytics means there is hardly any time spent on separate extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) of planning data first to a data provider before preparing and generating reports or dashboards using that data. Another aspect of operational analytics is that the data being reported is live, operational data, not snapshots at different points in time for which BW-based reporting is still required.

The concept of operational analytics has existed from the beginning in APO in three areas:

  • Integrated SAP NetWeaver BW component in APO. This allowed use of a RemoteCube for reporting on real-time planning area data but had an interactive planning performance impact.
  • Use of ABAP/SQVI queries, which are possible for master data, but not for transaction data. Planning data in liveCache is not available in transparent tables in ABAP.
  • Dynamic alerts in APO providing real-time exception management capability.

However, all these functions lack a real-time analytics capability on transaction data within a user-friendly UI that provides you with slice-and-dice capability.

Although Web reporting on online application processing (OLAP) systems based on SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW) focused on providing a UI with slice-and-dice functionality for analytical reporting, there was a major shortcoming. Any BI system depended on the ETL process to source the data from the online transaction processing (OLTP) system before it could be used for reporting. This resulted in a lag (from a few minutes to hours, and in extreme cases a day or two) between the data in OLAP versus OLTP. This was especially important for operational planning-relevant data that has value in real time but not so much in immediate history.

The SAP HANA database makes it possible to have analytical processing for operational reporting in the database server without overloading computational resources of the application server. The SAP HANA Live software component provides a VDM on top of a persistent database layer that is consumed through browser-based analytical applications. It uses SAP UI5 technology leveraging the HANA XS Engine. This VDM is composed from the bottom up of a layered structure starting with database tables and then Private, Reuse, and Query Views that are used by the application dashboards. It is reminiscent of SAP NetWeaver standard content composed of SAP standard InfoCubes, the Operational Data Store (ODS) objects that serve as the data store for BEx Queries, and reports.

The main difference is that VDM components are truly virtual in the sense that no data is stored in any of them. Data resides in tables in the HANA database that can only be integrated if the SCM application is running on the HANA database or separately in a sidecar scenario. In the sidecar scenario an additional step is required to replicate data from SCM liveCache to the HANA database. This transaction data replication can be set up as near real time, with delta changes replicated every few minutes after an initial one-time full transfer.

(Note: The Supply Chain Info Center is not based on a separate installation of BW. It also does not replace the need for a separate BW for reporting. The Supply Chain Info Center uses real-time operational data for its dashboard applications. Time-series data or data snapshots (as different planning versions) still need to be extracted and saved in BW Info Providers for further BI reporting requirements.)

The sidecar deployment is an approach in which the SCM system is still on a non-HANA database. In the sidecar deployment there is an additional HANA database system that provides an option for trying out the operational reporting capability of HANA without having the SCM application running on the HANA database. It is technically feasible to use HANA cloud for sidecar deployment, giving flexibility in infrastructure deployment costs. An entire SCM database is not required. Instead, you can replicate a controlled data set from APO to an appropriately small HANA system (a cloud or on-premise enterprise system). This sidecar approach also suffices for deployment of the Supply Chain Info Center application.

Supply Chain Info Center Overview

To use Supply Chain Info Center three software components are required:

  • The data replication component must be available in the APO system (available from SCM 7 SP13 onward).
  • The SAP HANA Live content for Supply Chain Management must be in the HANA system.
  • The Supply Chain Info Center add-on must be implemented in the HANA system.

Data replication: Master data replication is done using SAP Landscape Transformation Server (SLT) in the sidecar scenario. You set up a secondary database connection from the APO system to the HANA system, but this is not required in the integrated scenario. (Note that this is normally taken care of by the Basis team.) You access the secondary database connection setup via menu path Tools > CCMS > DB Administration > Database Connection Maintenance. The database management system (DBMS) Type is SAP HANA Database (HDB). A suitable user name and connection information (HANA server connection with port) needs to be maintained.

Setup of a Replication Model

A replication model setup is used to replicate planning-relevant master and transaction data from APO liveCache directly to the HANA database. This is required irrespective of whether it is an integrated or sidecar deployment scenario. The replication report (/SAPAPO/REPL) is available in SCM 7.00 SP 13 or SCM 7.01 SP 10, SCM 7.02 SP05 onwards. SAP Note 1784479 provides a collection of all notes related to APO planning data replication to HANA.

Transaction code /SAPAPO/REPL_MODEL is used to define the model for replication of data. Each replication model is based on the Planning Book,
Data View combination along with Selection ID for a Planning Version.

Next, use transaction code /SAPAPO/REPL to carry out the actual initial replication, as well as transaction code /SAPAPO/REPL_DELTA for delta replication of APO Planning Data to HANA using the replication model created above.

The data replication-related transactions mentioned above are available from SAP APO menu path APO Administration > Data Replication Model. Figure 1 displays a typical replication model. It shows a transaction code /SAPAPO/REPL_MOD_VIE replication model maintenance view in which you maintain the Replication Model ID, Description, and Status. In this screen you also maintain parameters once, such as Planning Book, Data View, Planning Version, Selection ID, and other data replication details (consuming application, whether delta replication is possible or not).

Figure 1
Define a replication model

The field to the right of the Consuming Application section enables you to select three options: Demand Planning, Supply Network Planning, and Resource Planning. These options define whether the replication model is used for replicating data for Demand Planning, Supply Network Planning, or Resource Planning-related dashboard applications of the Supply Chain Info Center. You select one of these three options from the pull-down menu in the Consuming Application field highlighted in Figure 1.

The Consuming Application setting selection Demand Planning maps to Forecast Accuracy in SAP HANA; Supply Network Planning maps to Stock Coverage or Supply Projection; and Resource Planning maps to the Capacity Analysis dashboard in the Supply Chain Info Center application.

Now double-click the Add Key Figures folder in the replication model definition screen (Figure 1). The key figure mapping details appear in the next screen (Figure 2). You create a replication model in this subscreen by adding key figures from the Planning Book (the first column of Figure 2) and assigning them to the requisite semantic key figures (the third column of Figure 2). Depending on the Consuming Application that you select, different semantic key figures are available. You map APO Planning Book key figures to HANA Live VDM Semantics. It is important to map all semantic key figures to one suitable key figure from the Planning Book or Data View.

In addition to semantics key figure mapping, time-based aggregation and object-based aggregation mapping is also important. The default setting for both aggregations is Sum. Note that for key figures related to Stock, Shortage, and Days’ Supply, the time-based aggregation is set as Last Bucket instead of Sum.

Figure 2
Key figure semantic mapping and aggregation setup in the replication model of the consuming application Supply Network Planning

On the other hand, replication models of the Demand Planning consuming application only need to have history and forecast key figures semantically mapped as the KPI calculations are based on those two data points only. The Supply Network Planning consuming application’s key figure mapping for Total Demand, Supply Shortage, Stock on Hand, Safety (Minimum) Stock, Target (Maximum) Stock, and Days’ Supply semantics are required for KPIs related to Supply Projection and Stock Coverage.

Figure 3 shows different semantic key figures for the Resource Planning consuming application that show the typical APO Capacity Planning Book key figures mapped to the relevant semantic key figures required in a capacity analysis dashboard application.

Figure 3
Key figure semantic mapping and aggregation setup in a replication model of the Resource Planning consuming application

You have now completed the one-time setup of the replication model. Remember to activate the newly created replication model by executing transaction code /SAPAPO/REPL_MODEL_VIE. This step of replication model activation in APO creates a corresponding FACT Table in SAP HANA. The replication models can be managed later through transaction code /SAPAPO/REPL_MOD_MNG (Replication Model Maintenance).

Replicate Data Using Replication Model from APO liveCache to HANA Database

To use your replication model to replicate data from the APO liveCache to HANA, execute transaction code /SAPAPO/REPL. In the screen that appears (Figure 4) enter the name of your replication model in the Replication Model ID field and a suitable profile in the Parallel Processing Profile field. Select the Save Application log indicator and click the execute icon (Figure 4.

Figure 4
Replicate data from APO Livecache to SAP HANA

This step transfers planning data from APO liveCache to the created FACT table in HANA database. When the replication is complete, the system displays a log with the number of planning objects (i.e., Characteristic Value Combinations [CVCs] for DP or Product-Location combinations for SNP) for which data from liveCache was replicated (Figure 5).

Figure 5
A data replication log for a model

(Tip! The APO system table /SAPAPO/REPL_TAR provides mapping of the replication model to the ABAP Dictionary [DDIC] table in the HANA system. If you have access to the HANA system through HANA Studio, then you can check for the mapped table showing the column store with attributes and key figures under the Table Content section. The planning data after replication can also be displayed in the column store table. This Fact Table data on the HANA system then is reused in the VDM of SAP HANA Live and finally is consumed by the Supply Chain Info Center application. The consumers of the various semantic key figure data as listed earlier [Figure 2] are Stock Coverage and Supply Projection dashboard-related KPIs.)

Supply Chain Info Center Application

Once the data is replicated and available in the HANA database, the Supply Chain Info Center application can be accessed by a user through a Web Browser link (SAP recommends Internet Explorer 9 and above, Chrome Version 23, and Firefox Version 16). The URL is http://<host>:<port>/sap/hba/apps/apoan/WebContent/index.html.

The Web browser link has specific nomenclature that points to the HANA XS Engine through a combination of suitable host name and port details. The Supply Chain Info Center application opens, and the user can navigate among the four different applications: Forecast Accuracy, Stock Coverage, Supply Projection, and Capacity Analysis.

After logging in to the Supply Chain Info Center, you access one of the four applications available by clicking the appropriate application link in the top navigation bar. Each application has an overview, drill-down, and detailed view, and you can select a set of KPIs to be placed in the Overview screen. For example, Figure 6 shows the Overview screen for Forecast Accuracy with a maximum of six KPIs, such as Forecast Accuracy, Forecast Error, Bias, Weighted Forecast Error, Weighted Forecast Accuracy, and Actual Bias displayed.

Figure 6
The Supply Chain Info Center Forecast Accuracy Dashboard Overview screen

In the General Settings section in the right panel of the screen (Figure 7), you can maintain the Planning Book, Data View, and Planning Version for the various KPI and chart data that is displayed in the Overview screen (the left side of Figure 6). The General Settings section also has a Periodicity setting with periods Offset and Horizon (in this case data displayed in months for the past 12 months) that is considered for the displayed KPI calculation (Figure 6). The Threshold setting highlights the KPI value in red when the calculated KPI value falls below the threshold. For example threshold = 90 means that a forecast accuracy less than the threshold will be highlighted in red.

Figure 7
General Settings for the Forecast Accuracy dashboard

The Drill-Down View (Figure 8) provides a detailed display of a particular attribute (e.g., stock keeping unit [SKU]) for a particular KPI (e.g., Forecast Accuracy). Clicking different KPI buttons changes the drill-down data in this view. It is possible to put selection criteria based on the available attributes such as Product Group, Region, Channel, or Sales Org in the data display selection section. The Drill-Down Sequence (SKU in Figure 8) defines how the different KPI values are sliced down by a maintained characteristic.

Figure 8
The Forecast Accuracy dashboard Drill-Down View

Figure 9 shows the Forecast Accuracy dashboard Detailed View with the actual sales KPI for all products within the last 12 months. Note the slider selection in the x-axis for the time dimension for ease of use. You can also use the Time granularity selection option on the top right corner of the KPI (currently set as Month). It is also possible to switch to a Table View that displays the same bar chart data in a tabular data format.

Figure 9
Forecast Accuracy dashboard Detailed View

Now I discuss the first of the two SNP applications: Supply Projection (Figure 10). In this application under General Settings a particular Planning Book, Data View, and Planning Version combination is preselected. The combination maps to a replication model. All product-location combinations as defined in the Selection Profile are displayed in the various KPIs and also in the associated charts and dashboards.

Figure 10
Supply Projection dashboard Overview

Figure 11 shows an overview of the Stock Coverage application. The available KPIs are different from those used in the Supply Projection dashboard, but are based on the same SNP planning data.

Figure 11
Stock Coverage dashboard Overview

Capacity Analysis is the final Supply Chain Info Center application available in version 1.5 that provides KPIs based on Resource Planning data. Figure 12 shows resource use for all available resources for a given location. The information is displayed by week for a three-week horizon. If the percent of utilization is less than the minimum threshold, the color yellow designates underloading. Green indicates normal use, whereas red is used to designate overloading of resources. The threshold for over- and underutilization is maintained in the Overview settings on the tab strip to the right portion of the screen (Figure 13).

Figure 12
Capacity Analysis dashboard Overview View

Figure 13
Overview Settings for the Capacity Analysis dashboard

Unlike the DP and SNP applications, Capacity Analysis provides only Product Drill-Down and Overview views. Figure 14 displays drill-down by products processed on a single resource. It shows the number of units and capacity consumption in hours by products. It is possible to switch from a graphical view to a data view in tabular grid format by clicking the Table View button.

Figure 14
Capacity Analysis dashboard Product Drill-Down view

The KPIs in each application and associated formulas are documented in SAP Note 1792742 (refer to the three PDF files in the SAP Notes attachment section). The attachments in the SAP Note explain each available KPI with examples and provide an explanation. It is now possible to set up custom KPIs in the four dashboards of the Supply Chain Info Center. For details refer to the attachment in SAP Note 1880437.

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Somnath Manna

Somnath has 12 years of SAP experience primarily in SCM planning applications and, prior to that, three years in the engineering industry. At present, he is Senior Managing Consultant at IBM's India Global Delivery organization, serving as SCM Product Champion and Lead Consultant. He has strong experience in multi-country rollouts and support across the global Pharma, Downstream (Lube) Oil, Consumer Electronics and Premium BeautyCare industries.


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