From BEx to What’s Next: Q&A with Tammy Powlas on Moving from SAP Business Explorer to the Latest BI Tools

by Tammy Powlas

January 15, 2015

Tammy PowlasThanks to everyone who joined us for our Q&A with SAP Mentor and BI 2015 speaker Tammy Powlas. Tammy took readers' questions in an online Q&A on moving from BEx to BI tools, including Design Studio, Analysis, and Lumira.

Review the Q&A replay and edited transcript here.

Live Blog Q&A with Tammy Powlas on Evolving from SAP Business Explorer | Jan 15 12:30pm ET

SAPinsider: We'll kick off today at 12:30pm ET / 9:30am PST today. Tammy Powlas will be answering your questions on transitioning from BEx and the move to Sap BusinessObjects BI tools.

Bridget Kotelly: Thanks everyone for joining us today - for our first SAPinsider live Q&A of the new year -   on transitioning from BEx to SAP BusinessObjects BI tools like Lumira, Design Studio and Analysis. 

I’m very pleased to introduce our panelist, Tammy Powlas. Tammy is a senior business analyst at Fairfax Water and well-known to our readers as an SAP Mentor and speaker at SAP, ASUG and SAPinsider events. Tammy will be presenting sessions on this and other BI topics at our upcoming BI 2015 event this March.

Welcome, Tammy. It’s great to have you here today!   

Tammy Powlas: Hi Bridget, hi everyone I am happy to be here today!


Bridget Kotelly: I’m not surprised that we have lots of questions waiting for you! But before we get started on your answers, can you clear up a common question about BEx support and end of maintenance. Where do SAP Business Explorer tools stand right now? 

Tammy Powlas: Yes, see SAP’s official statement on maintenance: “BEx 7x has no end of life” and continues to be delivered with the BW releases.

The BEx Query Designer, from SAP’s latest OpenSAP Course, is the Design Tool and forms semantic layer – see  and SAP continues working and enhancing on this.

Also see this recent blog by SAP’s Marc Hartz.  


Bridget Kotelly: Thanks for clarifying that before we get started. Now we’ll let you get to those questions! 


Comment From Lara

We use BEx queries extensively in our PROD environment. Essentially we have cubes or other InfoProviders in our BW system on which we built a BEx query, with a Business Objects universe on top of that to expose the data to the other BOBJ tools like Webi, Dashboards, etc.
What would your advice be on how/if we should go about replacing these queries?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Lara, Thank you for your question!

I wouldn’t replace those queries. In fact, once you go to BI4.1 I would use the BEx query as a front-end to many of the BI tools – it is faster with the BICS (BI Consumer Service). SAP recommendation for BI4.1 is to report using the BEx query as a data source against BW, and not the universe. This is so you can reuse BEx authorizations, calculated key figures, and restricted key figures.


Comment From Guest

Is there a matrix that shows all the BEx features and which BOBJ tool will accommodate them?

Tammy Powlas: Please see SAP Note 1869560. There is a nice matrix – here’s the direct link.  


Comment From Guest

We intend to use Analysis and Design Studio as a replacement for BEx tools, so directly on top of BW. We do not want to use a BusinessObjects server in between, because then we will lose performance and create an extra bottleneck in the chain of data for users. What are the broadcasting options in this scenario?

Tammy Powlas: Right now Analysis Office only offers broadcasting using the BI Platform, so I am afraid you do not have any broadcasting options. Feel free to vote on ideas on Idea Place at


Comment From Lawrence Chan

Is there a mass conversion tool to convert 7.0 BEx Workbook into Analysis for Office? What challenges have you faced when converting BEx workbook into Analysis? (e.g., workbook with custom Macro not supported? Would any user-added Excel formula be copied over?)

Tammy Powlas: One is not provided but you can check out SAP Consulting’s migrating service. Personally my workbooks are simple. See this blog for what is not converted.


Comment From Sambit

Is there any provision to add sort function for BW Queries (datasources) in Design Studio?

Tammy Powlas: Depending on what you use, sort functions are available out of the box. Check out the ad hoc template.


Comment From Sambit

Are there any provisions to add local calculations in Design Studio or Condition creation?

Tammy Powlas: Right now Design Studio doesn’t support local calculations. It does support conditions.


Comment From Sambit

We found that in Design Studio, when there is a hardcoded value entered in a dropdown box with special character (in our case '$'), we are unable to filter queries (datasources) using 'if' condition. Is this a bug? Similarly the same special character cannot be used in a dimension filter.

Tammy Powlas: Please have a look at this thread.


Comment From Sambit

Does Design Studio support hierarchical display of data in a dropdown box?

Tammy Powlas: It supports cascading filters, and hierarchies are supported by the dimension panel.


Comment From Guest

How can I increase ROI of already existing BusinessObjects with the new set of BI tools?

Tammy Powlas: Apply the SPs when you can as new functionality is added, and follow for new updated tutorials. Also I like the ease of use of Analysis Office - no training is really required. If you know Excel, you can start using it today.


Comment From Santosh

We use BEx to extract the data from BW, based on the queries created in BW, to other non-SAP databases. How can we deal with them if BEx is to be removed? What solution will we have?

Tammy Powlas: Hello Santosh,

Not sure I follow; why would BEx (queries) be removed? They should be used as your semantic layer for reporting. Please note that BEx Queries stay as your semantic layer - you are not replacing BEx Queries.


Comment From Clem

How do you try to sell to customers (users of BusinessObjects or BEx) on Design Studio applications,  which are similar to WAD, will be slower, and will need more time to build/maintain and operate?

Tammy Powlas: To me it is not a wholesale move; it is piloting and rolling out proof of concepts and also revisiting what a dashboard really is. See Stephen Few’s guidelines here.


Comment From Guest

How can we measure the usage of Analysis workbooks and reports created with Design Studio? Is this stored in the statistical tables of SAP BW?

Tammy Powlas: Here is one way – I have not tried myself as I am not a BI admin.


Comment From Guest

What SAP GUI version is required for BEx Web usage with Internet Explorer v11, if any?

Tammy Powlas: I am not aware of any dependency, but since I am not using BEx Web please check the PAM at or enter as a question here.


Comment From Guest

My company has several BEx workbooks that are scheduled using the BEx Broadcaster tool. Where is the best home for these in the BusinessObjects tool suite?

Tammy Powlas: You could look at the premium successor to BEx Analyzer, which is Analysis Office, and that has some scheduling options in the BI Platform.


Comment From Guest

We have a BEx query that feeds two types of BEx workbooks:
1. a summary level with lots of VB code and Excel formatting to make executive friendly, and
2. a detail drill view for analysis.
Both workbooks are fed by one query. How can we accomplish this in BOBJ without dual maintenance, since Crystal is better leveraged for executive / summary level, pixel-perfect reporting, but BOA or Webi is preferred for drill through/analysis?
We don't want to have users jumping between two different tools to view summary and detail over the same dataset. We want to avoid two development objects that require dual maintenance if the report logic should change. Any insight?

Tammy Powlas: If you want pixel perfect reports and your data source is SAP ERP, depending on your volume of data, you can use Crystal Reports on ALV as a data source - see my session at BI 2015.

However, another option is to use Design Studio as the latest version supports RRI capability.


Comment From Guest

Is there a way to include the BEx tool on the BI Launchpad, so users can access both BEx and the BOBJ tools from one user interface?

Tammy Powlas: Not today but that is an interesting idea for SAP’s Idea Place – go to


Comment From Guest

Hello, I would to know the future features of Design Studio. Thank you.

Tammy Powlas: See the Roadmap here – SMP logon required. Export data to PDF, Geomaps, and more are planned for Design Studio 1.5, in the May SAPPHIRE timeframe.


Comment From Venu@NationalGrid

Business had invested in BEx Workbooks for complex reporting across lines of business. What is the conversion/migration strategy SAP recommends for workbooks in repository and workbooks not in repository? It would be great if you can share strategy and any best practices followed by Fairfax Water.

Tammy Powlas: Hi Venu,

Simple workbooks can be converted but complex workbooks may need to be handled differently. We do not have such complex workbooks here. If yours are complex, I recommend looking into SAP's migration tool .


Comment From Guest

What’s the recommended approach to mapping your BEx queries and workbooks over to a BusinessObjects tool? And what do you do with the reports that don't fit 100% of the BEx capabilities into a specific BOBJ tool?

Tammy Powlas: You should continue to use BEx Queries – I would like to hear more about what doesn’t match. See SAP Note 1869560.


Comment From Ahmed

I want to see is there's a solution to create with bookmarks with Analysis for OLAP (SAP BI 4.1 SP2) like BEx Web Application bookmarks?

Tammy Powlas: For this, please look at Design Studio and bookmarking. See Figure 4 here for BI tool convergence and where Analysis OLAP fits in.  


Comment From Guest

With BEx 7.0 is it possible to open BEx 3.x query views? All queries had been migrated to 7.0.

Tammy Powlas: Yes, this can be done. Please note that the SAP GUI no longer ships BEx 3.5 - strongly recommend moving up.


Comment From Mark

What BusinessObjects tool do you recommend to replace BEx Web - for the interactive user slicing and dicing?

Tammy Powlas: You can take a look at Analysis OLAP - but also please look at Design Studio 1.4 ad hoc template. The next patch is expected to have a nice new ad hoc template to switch queries.


Comment From Jeff A

Does Analysis for Office support RRI (Report to Report Interface)? Need to run a summarized report then jump to a detailed view.

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jeff,
Thank you for your question. Yes this is supported today with Analysis Office, since version 1.2.


Comment From Jeff A

Which of the new tools can/should be used for scheduled and broadcasted reports?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jeff. Analysis Office supports publications, and I do know that Web Intelligence and the other support publications on the BI platform.


Comment From Guest

What is new in the next version of Analysis Office 2.0?

Tammy Powlas: It's an exciting new version - Dynamic grid, formatting of cells - these are new features coming, along with the enhanced property panel. Please attend my BI 2015 session on this (shameless promotion). :)


Comment From Jeff A

What about Email scheduling/broadcasting? Is Design Studio or Lumira capable of emailing reports?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jeff,
Right now Design Studio cannot support scheduling. Lumira has e-mail capabilities. It also has a scheduling agent but not so much for e-mailing scheduling reports. In some cases, you may want to keep using Information Broadcasting. I continue to do that myself for our Solution Manager reports.

Did everyone see that Lumira 1.22 was released today on the Lumira Cloud?


Bridget Kotelly: Can you give an overview of what's new in the latest version of Lumira 1.22?

Tammy Powlas: Today SAP announced on SCN that Lumira 1.22 will offer export to PDF functionality - and dynamic text. I am looking forward to that - exporting to PDF will help with printing.


Comment From Guest

What are the plans for Analysis for OLAP?

Tammy Powlas: See Figure 4 here for BI tool convergence and where Analysis OLAP fits in.  At SAP TechEd Las Vegas, SAP suggested that users also start looking at Design Studio ad hoc template for these types of scenarios.


Comment From Charles

In the new version will there still be 500K cell limit for the BEx query? Can that option be changed?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Charles,
Thank you for your question. I know in Analysis Office you can change the registry setting for this (HKEY) - see the documentation. I am not so sure about the BEx Query.


Comment From Jason F

The new versions of Internet Explorer and Java are creating havoc with BEX tools that are run from the web. Do you have any recommendations on how to mitigate these problems for users?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jason,

My only recommendation is to follow the PAM ( very closely. I understand your issues/concerns. SAP releases everything by the PAM.


Comment From Guest

What are mobility options/limitations for Analysis tools?

Tammy Powlas: Excellent question! Design Studio is your path to mobility for the Analysis Tools. You can export your Analysis OLAP workspace to Design Studio. You can also do a smart copy from Analysis Office to Design Studio as a data source. I will be covering this in my BI 2015 session.


Comment From Mark

We have a BEx safety belt setting in place to restrict the number of cells returned for BEx web (around 650K cells). This limit is also applied when using BICS queries for WebI. What is the best way to work with larger datasets? Which tool is recommended for this?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Mark - great question. I am not sure BEx and WebI are a great combination for large datasets. I think the Analysis tools work better and faster with larger data sets as they have better BICS



Comment From Mark

Tammy, to follow up on my earlier question on WebI and safety belt issues:  You recommended Analysis tools instead. Can you get the same formatting/charting capability there? I have seen Analysis and understand that if you edit the registry you can exceed 500K cells, however this is very intrusive for end users, and we may not want all users to do this.

Tammy Powlas: Hi Mark,
Design Studio offers some really nice charts, and partners such as Graphomate offer nice SDK. You can have your end users prototype in Analysis Office, and then send that as a smart copy to Design Studio for better looking presentation/application.


Comment From Guest

What differences/features will BEx Analyzer users see when moving them to Analysis?

Tammy Powlas: For me it is ease of use in Analysis Office. No training is required, and it has an easy ribbon functionality. But right now it doesn't have the same "information broadcasting" features. Depending on your use case, it may be a good idea to "co-exist."


Comment From Jeff A

What have you seen as the tool/location that companies use as a central point for user to access reporting?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jeff,

It depends. Out of SAP ERP we are using Crystal on ALV functionality. It makes for a nicer-looking cost center report. So Crystal on ALV works well as a central reporting solution out of our ERP system.
You can also use the BI Launchpad, or in my last company we used the SAP Enterprise Portal as a place for central reporting. It depends on your use case.


Bridget Kotelly: I know you are covering interoperability in your session at BI 2015. Do you want to talk about what the options are?

Tammy Powlas: Analysis Office has two ways to move applications to Design Studio: There is a smart copy option and there is a Design Studio on the Analysis Ribbon. The end users can prototype their requirements in Analysis Office and send that to the Developers to build a nice looking application in Design Studio.

Crystal Reports Enterprise and Web Intelligence can also use Analysis Views as a data source. So you can have Analysis Office be a data source to Crystal/WebI for formatted presentation reports.


Comment From Jeff A

There is a smart copy tool from Analysis Excel to Analysis PowerPoint? Or a method to keep the formatting and calculations from Excel into PowerPoint?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jeff,
My understanding is that feature may be coming to Analysis 2.0 - this tool is in ramp-up now. So hopefully you should see more information on this soon.


Comment From Jason F

We recently upgraded to BW 7.4. We have seen issues of data sometimes not showing up in hierarchies. Can you comment on some watch-outs to be concerned with BEx tools after you have converted to BW 7.4 and how to resolve them?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jason,
We have some of our boxes right now on 7.4. Personally I haven't seen those issues but I have seen some people make comments on SCN.

Please come to my BI 2015 session - see how we use Crystal Reports for agile Financial Statement reporting, live out of our ERP system!


Comment From Jeff A

We have been on 7.4 for almost a year now. No issues with hierarchies. Double check your Support Pack and OSS notes.

Tammy Powlas: Thank you Jeff!


Bridget Kotelly: When does it make more sense to use Crystal vs. Analysis? 

Tammy Powlas: We use Crystal for our formatted enterprise reporting such as Financial Statements. Analysis Office is good for the Business Analyst to review and analyze, and slice-and-dice numbers, such as project accounting reports, IT reports, metrics, etc.


Bridget Kotelly: How do you know when the BI tools will be updated? Is there a published schedule? 

Tammy Powlas: Each of the tools has a release schedule. Design Studio has a release schedule with a patch coming next week for 1.4 - you can search the SAP notes. Also major releases come out at conference times such as SAPPHIRE NOW and SAP TechEd.


Comment From Emily

Which BOBJ tools do you recommend for a self-service model to put in the hands of business users? Our power user group is just getting started, after eight years on BEx.

Tammy Powlas: For BEx data sources, I would start with Analysis Office: easy to use, self-service, and if you know Excel, you can get started without any training. Thank you for your question, Emily.


Comment From Jeff A

Does Explorer (new version of Polestar) natively support BEx queries?

Tammy Powlas: Hi Jeff,
No, it does not. For that, SAP recommends looking at Lumira, which does support BEx queries.


Bridget Kotelly: Thanks to everyone for joining us today and all your great questions. And Tammy, thank you for taking the time for these questions!    

For more from Tammy, I recommend her on Twitter @tpowlas, and you can learn more about her sessions on BEx and on SAP ERP embedded analytics at BI 2015 this March in Las Vegas.    


Tammy Powlas

Thank you everyone for attending and I hope to see you at BI2015!


Comment From Jeff A

Great thanks.

Tammy Powlas: Thank you for attending, Jeff!


Comment From Emily

Thank you, Tammy. Your insights are very valuable.

Tammy Powlas: Thank you Emily for attending!


Bridget Kotelly: Again, thanks Tammy, and everyone. You can review the chat replay now, and be sure to look for an email alert when the transcript is posted. Thanks again, Tammy!


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