Optimizing SAP Tools for Supply Chain Analytics:
Q&A with SCM 2015 Speakers Tom Chason and Alan Hendry

May 14, 2015

Review our Q&A on new options for supply chain analytics with SCM 2015 speakers Tom Chason and Alan Hendry of SCMO2. 

In this one-hour Q&A, these experts took readers' questions on the latest tools offerings — including SAP's Supply Chain Control Tower and Supply Chain Info Center (SCIC), Predictive Analytics, and Lumira — along with the road ahead for a whole new set of analytics options for supply chains.

View the chat replay, below, along with the edited transcript, for a review of all the discussion.



Live Blog Q&A on Supply Chain Analytics with SAP: Tom Chason & Alan Hendry | May 14 12pmET


Thank you for registering for our online Q&A on optimizing SAP reporting tools for supply chain analytics. We invite you to post your questions for SCMO2's Tom Chason and Alan Hendry, below. Our moderator is SCM 2015 conference producer James Ciccone. Tom and Alan will post answers here in the chat session for the next hour. Looking forward to a great discussion! 

James Ciccone: Thanks to everyone for joining us today for a chat on supply chain analytics. 

Joining us today to take your questions are two experts on SAP and supply chain: Tom Chason and Alan Hendry of SCMO2. Tom and Alan are speakers at this year’s Logistics and SCM 2015 event in Prague. They both will be here for the hour, posting answers to your questions on what’s changing for SCM and analytics, and an array of choices now available for reporting on the supply chain.

Welcome, Tom and Alan, and thanks for joining us today! 

Alan Hendry: Hello, this is Alan Hendry with SCMO2.

Tom Chason: Hi, everyone.


James Ciccone: Thank you both for joining! Before we get into readers’ questions, what are your quick observations on how supply chain analytics is changing, and the new options for SCM reporting? 

Alan Hendry: APO did not come with any pre-delivered reports, so historically all SCM reporting was developed as custom reporting usually in BW. Three important new products have changed that.
First, BW is now available on HANA and part of that offering is a new library of Predictive Analytics, which can crunch large volumes of data using statistical methods.
Second there is a dedicated HANA reporting tool designed to connect directly to APO – SCIC - the Supply Chain Info Center.
And the IBP Platform has the Supply Chain Control Tower, which will eventually have a suite of pre-delivered KPIs and reports.

James Ciccone: Thanks for that overview, Alan. We can follow up on some of those points throughout the Q&A. Right now we’ll let you get to those questions that are waiting for you!


Comment From Vamsi
In what ways can BI/ Analytics be improved in delivering information while dealing with systems like SAP ECC, APO, etc., combining supply chain information? Does SAP provide any new functionalities/business functions like Embedded Analytics?

Tom Chason: Hi Vamsi, the main area for improvement we see in the market is around performance.   We work with many users who complain about the amount of time spent running reports and waiting for the results.
The newer reporting tools that are based on HANA improve the user experience dramatically by reducing the frustration users experience with long report response times.

Most of the new SAP Supply Chain products are being developed and released with analytics included in the product offerings. Analytics are included in all of the IBP modules in the form of dashboards and KPIs.


Comment From Ken
What are differences between Control Tower and Supply Chain Info Center?

Alan Hendry: SCIC is specifically designed as on premise on HANA, and to complement APO. It is available today with a set of pre-delivered reports and KPIs but is unlikely to be developed further.
The Control Tower is newer, and part of the hosted IBP planning suite. It is only available in the cloud on subscription. It is intended to be the Supply Chain Reporting solution to support IBP as it rolls out and to connect to ECC, non-SAP systems as well as the supply chain planning suite.


Comment From Guest
Is there a date for Control Tower release? Is it available now?

Alan Hendry: Control Tower is available in the current release of IBP 5.0


Comment From Ram
How do SAP predictive analytic products like Lumira/Infinite Insight add value to SCM? Can we have one or two examples?

Tom Chason: Hi Ram, Lumira is a data visualization tool along the lines of Tableau that allows for the creation of visually appealing reports. This visualization of the data can help specifically for business processes that rely on collaboration because it facilitates the communication of complex subjects. Sales and Operations Planning processes along with Demand Collaboration processes benefit greatly from this.


Comment From Ram
Can you please share the use case for Lumira and Infinite insight for predictive analytics on SCM?

Alan Hendry: Infinite Insight is the name for the predictive analytics library available with HANA. This is SAP's offering to compete with tools like SAS and SBSS for advanced statistical analysis.
A typical example would be to analyze relationships in data such as the sales of soda in gas stations as the gas price changes or the sales increases on a product when a coupon or promotion is running


Comment From Matt
Any changes/improvements in reporting in APO with Enhancement Pack 3?

Tom Chason: Hi Matt, Most of the EHP 3 improvements revolve around usability, like side panels in the planning book and product view.
Generally speaking, APO isn't a reporting tool so reporting is limited to standard transactions and live cache extracts.


Comment From Matt

What are requirements for IBP 5.0 and Control Tower?

Alan Hendry: IBP and Control Tower are separately licensed products and are hosted by SAP. So really there are no pre-requisites as such - they can connect to existing ECC and APO as well as any other data source that can be converted to flat file. No hardware to buy - just have to sign the subscription contract


Comment From Kiran

Can Control Tower Module in IBP suite be brought as standalone and can it integrate with APO?

Alan Hendry: As far as I understand, each module of IBP is licensed individually, so yes you would buy just Control Tower if you want. It is designed to receive data from any part of the SAP Supply Chain suite including APO. Just bear in mind it is pretty new and has limited KPIs so far.


Comment From J.L.

What are differences/limitations for supply chain reporting when comparing HANA-based SCM tools and BW on HANA?

Tom Chason: One of the main differences is that you still have to build your KPIs, dashboards, reports from the ground up in BW. The SCM-based tools come with 25 pre-delivered in SCIC and 37 in IBP 4.0 with more to come.

SCIC is only on-premise while IBP is still only available in the cloud.

If your APO isn't on HANA, you still need to replicate your data so you lose some of the benefits of loading more quickly.


Comment From Kiran

If a client has an existing HANA EP subscription, can he run SCIC - the Supply Chain Info Center - on it? Will it be a separate instance?

Alan Hendry: I am not completely sure, but I think SCIC uses the HANA subscription. I do not know the details about the hardware requirements


Comment From Benjamin

What roles are needed for setup and using SAP Supply Chain Control Tower or Info Center?

Tom Chason: Hi Benjamin, Control Tower uses flexible role-based tile dashboards. These can be shared across roles as well.

The roles that are needed would depend on what functionality you are using. For example, if you are using the functionality for more of an Alert Type (i.e. inventory shortages), then you would need roles mapped to Planning Organization. If on the other hand, you are using it more for management reporting, then you would need roles mapped to the different managerial functions.


Comment From Kiran

Just to reaffirm my understanding based on Tom and Alan's inputs: To run SCIC, having APO on HANA DB is advisable to leverage benefits?

Alan Hendry: SCIC has to be on HANA. If APO is not on HANA, then the data has to be replicated which is typically overnight. So you get fast reporting on yesterday's data. If APO and SCIS are both mounted on HANA then the reporting is near real time


Comment From Ken

What are tools for mobile deployment of APO data?

Alan Hendry: Both SCIC and Control Tower are designed to be used with Fiori, so the reports and charts are mobile enabled with a common look and feel.


Comment From Manoj Pillai

Can you please specify the areas covered by those 25 predelivered tools in SCIC?

Tom Chason: Hi Manoj,
The 25 pre-delivered KPI's in SCIC focus primarily on the Demand and Supply areas with a few that cover GATP scenarios.

Examples of Demand KPIs would be:

  • Forecast Accuracy
  • Forecast Bias
  • Current Consumption
  • Demand Waterfall Analytics 

Examples of Supply KPIs would be:

  • Supply Projection Analytics
  • Stock Coverage Analytics
  • Capacity Analytics                            

Comment From Manoj Pillai: Thanks.


Comment From Guest

Can you tell me more about the Excel add-in for APO?

Alan Hendry:  The Excel Add In is a new front end for APO. It is a development of the IBP front end for APO. In implementing this now for our first few customers, we realize that some of them see this as a nice way for users to create self-service reports from APO with all the ease of Excel.


Comment From Matt

How does SAP Supply Chain Performance Management compare to Control Tower? Do these solutions work together?

Tom Chason: Hi Matt,
SCPM was the precursor to the SCIC, which was the precursor to the Control Tower. So where SCIC is more mature, most of the new development efforts are focused on the Control Tower. SCPM is no longer on the price list so not sure if you can even get it (maybe on eBay?).

If you do have both already, I would think it would an either or discussion.


Comment From Guest

Some of these tools are hosted? Are there still ways to customize these reports?

Tom Chason: Even though the application is hosted out in the Cloud, you still have access to customize and develop customer specific functionality.

You can either change/tweak existing reports or build from scratch if there isn't anything close enough to start with a copy.


Comment From Kiran

Excel Add-In for APO DP was on the market from a few third-party vendors specifically for DP. Does SAP provide it now? Does it even support SNP and PPDS? Should we buy it separately or part of EP3?

Alan Hendry: The Excel Add In is free from SAP, so no need to buy a third-party product. It is specific for DP Planning areas, so if you want to read data from SNP you would have to release to DP first. You cannot enter data in SNP using the Excel Add-In. It is downloaded separately, like the GUI, and works with any 7.0 system and above as long as you have the latest support packs

Comment From Kiran: Thank you, Alan and Tom, for your valuable insight.

Tom Chason: Thank you, Kiran.


James Ciccone: Alan, Tom, thanks so much for this great advice. To wrap up today's chat, what do you see as the road ahead for supply chain analytics? In addition to adopting new tools, are there organizational or other changes required, and how can these teams prepare now?

Alan Hendry: To answer the part about the road ahead, the biggest difference now is that Reporting tools are available in the Supply Chain Suite, so you no longer have to develop everything custom as before. Also, HANA does have the power to crunch data quickly and the new tools provide for flexible ways to show the data. So, many of the frustrations of planning managers struggling to get at supply chain data today will be relieved.

Tom Chason: In terms of organizational or other changes required and how teams can prepare now, I see a deeper partnership between IT and the business to work together in smaller sprints (scrum methodology concept) rather than in traditional project planning. This agile approach allows the customer (the business) to more fully participate in the gathering of requirements and development of the analytics needed to navigate the big data required in today's complex supply chains. Ultimately helping IT make the business a success.


James Ciccone: Thanks to everyone who joined us today! 

For more advice from Tom and Alan, join them for their sessions at SCM 2015 in Prague June 1-3, and for a dedicated Data Management ,Reporting and Analytics track. 

A big thank you to Tom Chason and Alan Hendry of SCMO2. We’re looking forward to your session in a few weeks in Prague! 

Tom Chason: Thanks for having us James and thanks to all the participants for the great questions. You can contact me with any follow up questions at

Alan Hendry:Thanks for the questions. You can contact me at or via our website-

SAPinsider: For more tips, articles and other advice, please visit SAPinsider’s SCM Channel. And again, a big thanks to Alan and Tom for taking the hour to cover these new tools.  Look for their sessions in Prague, and thanks for joining us today!

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