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Forum transcript: Q&A on BPC with Scott Cairncross

by Kristin Bent

May 12, 2011

Make sense of your BPC options: Exclusive Q&A with Scott Cairncross on SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation

Welcome to today's SAP BusinessObjects Forum on evaluating and implementing BPC. In this one-hour Forum, we invite you to ask Scott Cairncross of TruQua  -- and a featured speaker at BI 2011 and SAPinsider's upcoming BPC Bootcamp  --  your questions about SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation.

Scott, thank you for joining us today! It looks like we have some questions waiting for you, so please feel free to jump in.
____

SandyYang:  Hi Scott,

Our Business owners ask us to extract high level GL data from SAP R3 in real-time. We looked into the extractors and could not find any. Do you have any suggestions?
Thanks, Sandy

Scott Cairncross:  Hi Sandy,

The question of real time data pulls is always an ask from the business however the reality is in my experience that it is not frequently a hard requirement but more of a nice to have. Is your company using Classic or New GL?

Regardless of which GL you are using if you look at the standard extractors to get into BW you could use RDA (Real-time Data Acquisition) in BW to pull your data into BW and BPC at regular intervals or you could setup a process chain that links the load from ECC into BW and BW into BPC and execute it on the interval that your business required.

Cheers, Scott
 
RamSharma: We are from S C Johnson (Consumer Products company) and are embarking on our BPC Implentation and have the following questions..hopefully Scott can answer some or all of them during the session today

Many Thanks, Ram Sharma - Business Process Manager FICO - SCJ

1.) General question about how hierarchies will be set up in BPC: If we have a hierarchy established in SAP ECC already, and then need to add to the hierarchy to include our non-SAP companies, how will this work?

2.) Chart of Accounts: do we need to include Cash Flow accounts in our CoA recommendation? At what point do we need to begin discussions around the design of the Cash Flow?

3.) Chart of Accounts: should we include statistical accounts in the same application as the legal consolidation/management reporting application, or is it better to have this information in a separate application?

4.) Customer Dimension: Where will the customer information be included in BPC? Will it be included as part of the Product Profitability application? Will it need to be a separate application? How will it work if we only have selected customers that we want to report on? How will the load from ECC to BPC work?

5.) Cost Center: Our current proposal is to bring all SAP companies’ cost centers to BPC. We have a cost center hierarchy in ECC today. What are the pros and cons of using the hierarchy from SAP versus establishing the hierarchy in BPC?

6.) Time dimension: What are the pros and cons of having semi-annual rollups in addition to months and quarters?

Scott Cairncross: 

Hi Ram,
Good questions.
1. Your first question: "1) General question about how hierarchies will be set up in BPC: If we have a hierarchy established in SAP ECC already, and then need to add to the hierarchy to include our non-SAP companies, how will this work?"

The standard hierarchy data manager package will handle the loading of BW Hierarchies into BPC however you will still have to load your ECC hierarchies into BW ahead of time. You could also create a custom process chain for BPC that merged the Trigger BW Process Chain Task/Process Type and the existing Hierarchy Load Process Chain for BPC which would make the load from ECC to BPC completely seamless to the end user.

Regarding overlaying your existing hierarchies in BPC simply add your new branches to the hierarchy within BPC directly.

However if you are going to be sourcing that non-SAP company data from a different system the solution gets a bit trickier.

2. “Do we need to include Cash Flow accounts in our CoA recommendation? At what point do we need to begin discussions around the design of the Cash Flow?”

Ram, design in BPC just like any planning application is about trying to think ahead to all the different needs that the customer may have and come up with some good options. I would definitely have a recommendation including Cash Flow Accounts. I would begin the discussions early and iterate often.

 3. “Chart of Accounts: should we include statistical accounts in the same application as the legal consolidation/management reporting application, or is it better to have this information in a separate application?"

Ram, I participated in a Starter Kit design for Cost and Expense Planning and we did consolidate Statistical Key Figures into the Account Dimension in ord er to have a consolidated reporting application. We were able to manage the separation of Cost Elements and Statistical Key Figures with separate hierarchies.

 4. “Customer Dimension: Where will the customer information be included in BPC? Will it be included as part of the Product Profitability application? Will it need to be a separate application? How will it work if we only have selected customers that we want to report on? How will the load from ECC to BPC work?"

Ram, this completely depends on what type of an application you are building inside of BPC. You can manage groupings of customers using customer segments or a custom hierarchy inside of BPC. If you cannot group the customers you want to report on in the way I suggest you may have to do some creative formula work in your EVDRE to drive the MEMBERSET field for your Customer Dimension to get the grouping you desire for reporting. The load from ECC is very straight forward you would load your data from ECC into BW with your standard extractor and use the standard data manager package to load infoObjects loading from 0CUSTOMER.

5. “Cost Center: Our current proposal is to bring all SAP companies’ cost centers to BPC. We have a cost center hierarchy in ECC today. What are the pros and cons of using the hierarchy from SAP versus establishing the hierarchy in BPC?"

Ram, I would go ahead and load everything in from ECC and if you then want to manipulate the hierarchy once it is in BPC you can do so. Establishing the hierarchy directly in BPC would be a lot more work than loading directly from ECC as there are delivered data manager packages that SAP provides to do this work.

6. “Time dimension: What are the pros and cons of having semi-annual rollups in addition to months and quarters?"

Adding additional roll up dimensions to the time h ierarchy at the level you are suggesting does not have that big of an impact as you are not changing the lowest level of granularity. If you were to say include Calendar Week below Calendar Month in the Time Dimension there would be a pretty big "con" to that in that the data volumes would increase tremendously and it would make reporting more challenging.


Annapureddy: Hello, Do you have any design document on planning and consolidation?

Scott Cairncross: Hi Annapureddy,
At every project we have created some sort of a design document on planning and consolidation however they are specific to that Customer's requirements.


If you are looking for some documentation around how to design for BPC, I would highly recommend attending the BPC bootcamp series coming up (www.bpcbootcamp.com). I and two other colleagues in the EPM community - Jens Koerner, Director of the EPM RIG at SAP Business Objects and David Dixon, A Thought Leader in the Planning & Consolidations and Business Intelligence space - will be giving a great deal of sessions around design topics.

Cheers, Scott

Chris Kornely: Hi Scott,

Can you comment on the top 3 delta functionality in NW BPC 10 and the changes in the BPC 10 landscape ? Does it require NW 7.30 ?

SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation Release Notes shows that .NET server is still required...is this correct as I was told it was not ?

When is BPC planned to run on HANA ?

Is there a sizing document for BPC 10 available ?

Thanks, Chris

Scott Cairncross: Hi Chris,

So if the .NET Server is still a part of BPC 10.0 NW that is news to me because it is my understanding that the .NET server is completely removed in BPC 10.0. I am currently in the process of installing a s ystem with SAP for 10.0 and can give you more insight on this later on as the software was just released onto the service marketplace a few days ago I believe.

Regarding BPC 10.0 requiring BW 7.3 that is absolutely true. This is also documented in the installation guide on the service marketplace. service.sap.com/instguides.

I can't really comment on when SAP is planning to run BPC on HANA but I think we can assume that it will be the release after 10.0 which is being called Next-Gen EPM. I believe that ALL new applications are planned to be on HANA as this is the go-forward platform for them. I have had the opportunity to work on a separate project around HANA and it is very promising and has great potential.

There is no sizing document available yet for BPC 10 and I don't imagine there will be until BPC 10.0 is released into GA. Usually the Ramp Up phase of a product release at SAP is when that type of documentation is sorted out and built.

Cheers, Scott
 
Madis Udam: Hi Scott!

Currently the only planning-specific functionality in the product seems to be allocation allocations. Customers often require different methods such as driver-based planning. You mentioned the Expense planning kit. What is available in there? In addition to that, what are options in general for designing planning applications that do not require constant maintenance on the logic or dimension member level i.e. can be configured fairly easily but still have the advantages of the application server model.

Thanks, Madis

Scott Cairncross:  Hi Madis, Great question.

So yes, there is not a huge amount of standard "planning functions" with financial logic built in as there was in SEM-BPS. What has happened is there are a lot of different Accelerators from both Partners as well as SAP to help augment BPC based on the industry or area of planning /consolidation s you are implementing.

For example, SAP offers a set of BAS (Business Analytic Solutions) for SAP BPC specifically for different industries; SAP BPC for Banking, SAP BPC for Healthcare, SAP BPC for Public Sector are among them. There are also RDS (Rapid Deployment Solutions) from SAP most notably the SAP S&OP RDS for Sales and Operations Planning. Finally there are the starter kits which I mentioned above for Capex Planning, for Cost and Expense Planning among others.

If you are interested in the Starter Kits I would contact David Williams at SAP. Send me an email and I can put you in touch if you are interested.

Regarding the last part of your question there, "Designing Planning Applications that DO NOT require a lot of maintenance" this is a passion of mine. Empowering the business through a term that David Dixon coined IT/Business Co-Creation. You can empower with BPC the business user in many ways so that ALL of your logic is driven by flat files. I demoed a solution like this at BI 2011 and Financials 2011 in Las Vegas and will be showing the demo in Amsterdam in early June as well. I am happy to follow up with you on this as it is a very in depth topic.

Cheers, Scott

FredericJubier: Hi Scott,
We started our BPC project without any sort of integration with ECC meaning the master data are directly created in BPC (hierarchy, property and so on).

In the next phase we want to bring Master data from ECC (hierarchy, attribute...).

I'd like to know what is the risk of starting loading Master data from ECC after doing the maintenance in BPC. My concern is getting some mismatch and had to delete data from the cubes to load the master data from ECC. Is there any best practices to sync up the hierarchies and attributes ?

Thanks, Fred

Scott Cairncross:  Hiya Fred... Tricky question.

Unfortunately there is not silver bull et solution here. I recommend loading your ECC hierarchy into a separate PARENTH* hierarchy and doing a manual reconciliation between your master data using Excel Functionality in the Admin Console. At least then you can analyze your master data without effecting your transaction data.

Once you are comfortable that the data will not get blow away you can then go ahead and overlay the load into PARENTH2 on top of PARENTH1 and continue loading directly from ECC.

Does that make sense to you?

Cheers, Scott

FredericJubier:  Yes it makes sense.

I think there will be some challenges around attributes as well. Maybe we go into details during the bootcamp! Hope to see you soon!

Cheers, Fred

Dave Hannon: Scott,
A BPC user recently told me the training for BPC is made easier for finance folks by the MS Excel front-end.

But I wanted to get your thoughts--any tips, caveats, or advice to training BPC users to ensure maximum ROI? Thanks.

Scott Cairncross:  Hi Dave,

Having a deep knowledge of Excel is definitely a plus. I would make sure that your end users have knowledge of Excel and that the pre-requisite is mandatory prior training or the users will frankly just be lost. The fact of the matter is BPC for Excel is really just Excel++ with the Action Pane. What I mean by that is aside from the custom ribbon and the Action Pane (both graphical UI elements that are a part of the frontend client) the frontend client really just installs a bunch of new BPC specific excel formulas into the client that can then be used by the expert Excel Planners within your organization.

Definitely a knowledge of Excel and Office is a must other than that I would just make sure the trainees can be focused and have the week or two dedicated to learning without other tasks. I have had experience with failed training not b ecause the training was bad but because of the fact that the class was not focused because they were trying to multi-task and missed key concepts.

Hope that helps.

Cheers, Scott

SandyYang: Hi Scott,

Our Business owners ask us to extract high level GL data from SAP R3 in real-time. We looked into the extractors and could not find any. Do you have any suggestions?

Thanks, Sandy

Scott Cairncross:  Hi Sandy,

The question of real time data pulls is always an ask from the business however the reality is in my experience that it is not frequently a hard requirement but more of a nice to have. Is your company using Classic or New GL?

Regardless of which GL you are using if you look at the standard extractors to get into BW you could use RDA (Real-time Data Acquisition) in BW to pull your data into BW and BPC at regular intervals or you could setup a process chain that links the load from ECC into BW and BW into BPC and execute it on the interval that your business required.

Cheers, Scott

SandyYang: Hi Scott,

Thanks for your answer regarding the delta extractor.

We are on R/3, using Classic GL. We checked all standard GL extractors under FI-GL, the best of them supports delta, once a day, once an hour after applying an SAP note. None of them is real delta or RDA enabled.

If new GL extractors are RDA enabled, that's actually good news for us. Could you confirm?

Also, when is the earliest date of BPC training course or bootcamp? Are there different  training courses for the business users and IT stuff?

Thanks again! Sandy

Scott Cairncross: Hi Sandy,

Are you planning to go to NEW GL? I would have to double check the exact DataSource / Extractor Delta settings as I don't know off the to p of my head what types of deltas each supports. I would first though make sure that the business really does need this before going down that road.

Check out the BPC Bootcamp website -- all the dates are listed there.

Thanks a million.

Cheers, Scott

Kristin Bent:
Thanks to all who posted questions and followed the discussion. A full summary of all the questions will be posted here in the SAP BusinessObjects Forum and in the Financials Group on Insider Learning Network. I encourage you to join these groups for ongoing information and additional resources.

And thank you again to Scott Cairncross of TruQua for joining us today and taking these questions! Look for Scott at SAPinsider's multi-city BPC Bootcamp (the next one takes place June 13-15 in Chicago), where he is a featured speaker.

Scott Cairncross:
Thanks everyone for a great session... Look forward to seeing everyone at SAPinsider's BPC Bootcamp!
Cheers, Scott

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