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Reporting on SAP BW without BEx: Q&A on SAP BusinessObjects Analysis and WebI Best Practices and Capabilities

March 26, 2015

Thanks to everyone who joined us for our online Q&A with Tom Kornfeld of Xoomworks. Tom took readers’ questions in a one-hour online discussion on best practices in the move from BW reporting with BEx, and the move to SAP BusinessObjects BI tools like Analysis and Web Intelligence.

You can review all the discussion on WebI, A-OLAP, and BEx in the Q&A replay, below, and review the edited transcript.

Note: Because of the great response and number of questions submitted, Tom Kornfeld and the Xoomworks team replied to some remaining questions after the live Q&A ended. These questions and responses appear in the edited transcript only.



Bridget Kotelly , SAPinsider BI 2015:   Welcome to today’s chat on changes in SAP BW reporting and to answer your questions on moving from BEx to Analysis and WebI for BW reporting. Taking your questions today is BI expert Tom Kornfeld of Xoomworks, who will join us for the hour.   Tom, thank you for joining us today!   

Tom Kornfeld, Xoomworks: Hello Bridget! Thanks for inviting me. And thanks everyone for joining this session.

Tools Comparison


Bridget Kotelly:  Tom, to get started: There’s a lot of focus now on moving from BEx to WebI. But what about Analysis for OLAP? When would you prefer to use that for BW reporting?

 Tom Kornfeld:  Before we get started I believe it is essential to understand the real capabilities of Web Intelligence and Analysis for OLAP against SAP BW. Especially BW users who have been working with BEx for many years will find it challenging to adapt to the new toolsets.
Therefore, user training, communication and change management will play an equally important role when rolling out these new tools. WebI and Analysis for OLAP (AOLAP) are different tools for different tasks. WebI is generally better suited for ‘real’ reporting, scheduling and mass publication while AOLAP is better for ad hoc analysis, even though WebI has ad hoc capabilities as well.


Comment From Guest
Hi Tom, When you use “Analysis,” are you referring to SAP BusinessObjects Analysis for Office?
Tom Kornfeld:
“Analysis” refers to the specific analysis tools, i.e., Analysis edition for OLAP (often referred to as AOLAP) and Analysis edition for Office (sometimes referred to AOffice).


Comment From Guest
There is no doubt that BEX Analyzer will be gone, but BEx Query Designer is going nowhere?

Tom Kornfeld: Check out Tammy Powlas’s Q&A and this SCN blog for more details on plans for supporting and updating BEx.

Comment From Michel

Does WebI and Analysis also contain broadcast functionalities? How do they compare with BEx broadcasting?  

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Michel, thank you for joining the session today.
Yes, both WebI and Analysis have broadcasting capabilities.
Analysis for OLAP offers to share workspaces with others by simply saving a workspace to a public folder in the BI Platform repository. You can also send a workspace to another BI Platform user’s BI Inbox, or send a workspace via email. As a final option you can share an analysis workspace in other BI consumers (for example WebI) the openDocument functionality. This allows you to access an Analysis workspace from within a WebI document. Analysis workspaces can only be shared as workspaces, not in a different format. If you want to share results from an Analysis workspace in a different format (e.g. .xls, .xlsx, .csv or .pdf) you will have to export the workspace to the desired format and import the exported file to the BI Platform before you can share it via either a public folder, or send it to another user’s BI Inbox or by email.
Analysis for Office workbooks can be saved to NetWeaver as well as the BusinessObjects BI Platform. Additionally, Analysis workbooks can be scheduled via the BI Platform.
See SAP KBA 2134836 - Checklist for Scheduling of Analysis for Office Workbooks in case you run into issues when scheduling workbooks.
Web Intelligence documents can also be shared via the BI Platform, or by sending the document to another user’s BI Inbox, or via email. Additionally, you can schedule WebI reports and distribute them in different formats (WebI, Excel, PDF, CSV, or text) to public folders, BI Inbox, email, FTP or file system.

You can also create publications for WebI reports that enable you to distribute personalized documents to users and groups in multiple output formats to a variety of multiple destinations (public folder, BI Inbox, email, FTP or file system).

In comparison to BEx Broadcasting, WebI does offer a bigger variety of formats and general flexibility.


Comment From Antoine

After modifying the InfoCube and refreshing the Universe, the universe gets corrupted. The solution is to export the universe in a different folder without overwriting. Do you know this issue and are you aware of any easy solution?  

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Antoine, this used to be an issue with MDX universes in XI3.x? Which version are you running on?

Comment From Antoine:  We are using MDX UNV universes.

Tom Kornfeld:  Hi Antoine, this may be a regression. Have you already logged a ticket with SAP Support? The workaround we used (XI3) was to never refresh a universe but create a new one. Painful but the only option at that time.


Comment From Shailendra
Does SAP plan on providing a replacement for BEx Broadcaster on the NetWeaver platform in the future, considering that AOLAP workbooks can be saved on the NetWeaver platform?

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Shailendra. I’m not aware of any plans and we cannot speak for SAP. From a Crystal point of view in the past although the report was published to BW, you still scheduled it from the BI platform. I think the best here is to suggest it on the SAP ideas place:


Comment From Antoine
 We were advised to create universes ONLY on InfoCubes. But for some master data information and document like information (Sales Order, Purchase Order), would it be better to create the universes on InfoObjects or DSO objects?
Tom Kornfeld:
Hello, I would definitely explore the option. As per the reply to Brian, depending on the structures in your BW, performance will vary. DSO should be better for performance but you’ll have less functionality available.


Comment From Sarkis

Hello Tom,  I was wondering if, instead of creating universes ONLY on InfoCubes, for some master data information and document-like information (Sales Order, Purchase Order), would it be better to create the universes on InfoObjects or DSO objects in order to avoid universes?

Tom Kornfeld: I would definitely explore the option, and based on my findings, I would change the strategy.


Comment From Paulo
How can I schedule/broadcast Analysis queries? With newest SP it should be possible via BusinessObjects. How does this work? Is it fine with query parameters/variables? Is it flexible enough? Thanks in advance for your feedback.
Tom Kornfeld:
You can apparently schedule Analysis for Office workbooks via CMC. It's documented in the AOffice guide, but we tested and with 4.1 SP3 Patch 6 it is still not possible. Check the latest updates on this one.


Comment From Guest
We’ve started use Analysis for MS Excel instead of BEx reporting. I know it is little bit different tool from the BusinessObjects family. I have a question concerning using styles for hierarchy data. In BEx reporting, the hierarchy data has its own styles “SAPBEXaggData” (yellow background), but in Analysis there is one style for every data SAPDataCell. The report is not so user friendly. Sometimes it is difficult to read. Would be possible to have similar design as is in BEx?

Tom Kornfeld: Hello, Have a look at AOLAP, as the formatting is closer to BEx. Actually I observe the same behavior in BEx Analyzer and Analysis for Office. You should be able to achieve the required formatting using VBA macro.


Comment From Tony
Are there advantages/disadvantages to running Analysis for Office directly against the BW system/BEx query versus connecting to the BI platform?

Tom Kornfeld: In both cases Analysis for Office front-end connects directly to BW back-end(s) and BICS protocol is used. Therefore data analysis experience (functionality and performance) should be exactly the same Scheduling and operability with other BI tools through Analysis View is available only with BI platform. 
At the same time, variants, launcher, conversion of BEx Analyzer Workbooks to Analysis for Office workbooks and BW Workspaces are available only with NetWeaver BW as a platform.


Comment From Claus
Hi Tom. Does AOLAP fully replace BEx Web Analyzer in terms of ad hoc capabilities?

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Claus, we think so and most users we worked with have liked the new look and feel, the functionality and the added functionality. But to be correct BEx Web also can be used to build rather sophisticated and interactive applications, and from this perspective its successor is Design Studio rather than AOLAP.


Comment From Paul

Do we need to set up security in a different way? Now we restrict by query, multiprov, and a prefix.

Tom Kornfeld: Security is slightly off topic but feel free to send us an email.

As long as the restrictions are defined in BW roles, the data restrictions will be adhered to. Import the roles in BI4, and map to your users.

Additionally you will have to set up content and application rights in SAPBI4.

We designed security models for large customers, and there is some info here.  


Comment From Filip

We have a BI Suite license and are allowed to use the Analysis tooling. Currently most BW users are using BEx and BEx web. We have a lot more users on top of BEx than the licenses we have for BusinessObjects. Does the BEx license and BusinessObjects Analysis licenses count as same or what is the approach for this - mainly since Analysis is the replacement for BEx?

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Filip, As far as I am aware there are no combined BW and BO license options. Your best bet is probably to negotiate options with your local SAP sales rep. 


Comment From Tammy

We leverage complex hierarchies in our BEx reporting. What are viable options in the new toolset? If it's recommended that we continue leveraging BEx for hierarchy-based reporting, which BusinessObjects tool(s) would you recommend for migration?

Tom Kornfeld:  Hi Tammy, It is a bit difficult to make a generic recommendation here but since hierarchy reporting seems to be of paramount importance I can see uses for both WebI and AOLAP. AOLAP is excellent for ad hoc reporting and fully supports hierarchies as well as a number of functions and calculations to further manipulate your data sets.
WebI is a great tool for more “static” reporting and one of its greatest assets is the wide range of report formulas that can be used on your data. Additionally you can export Analysis workspaces to so-called Analysis Views and re-use these in WebI, or you can jump from WebI to AOLAP (including the passing of variable values) via openDocument functionality. So rather than deciding on one tool only, I would recommend exploring options for a combination of tools complementing each other. Both tools drive self-service reporting.
Comment From Tammy: Would Analysis for Office be an option?
Tom Kornfeld:
 Yes, I can see AOffice as an option as well. The great thing about AOffice is obviously that you download and manipulate directly in Excel. However, it depends on what you want your users to be able to do in Excel. Surely an option if they are used to analyze in Excel but WebI and AOLAP offer great analysis capabilities that do not require export to Excel.


Comment From Guest

What are the benefits of WebI versus Analysis for OLAP/Office? We have a user base of 500 casual users, with 90% only wanting to query specific data elements or see visualizations on specific data elements.

Tom Kornfeld:  Hi, judging from your requirements it seems that AOLAP might be the best fit for your organization. However, you may want to consider also using WebI, especially for its great scheduling and broadcasting capabilities in scenarios where cached or pre-run report data is all that is required by the majority of users (information consumers).
Understanding the potential usage scenarios will be important before making the decision for the right tool in your organization. Maybe you want to elaborate in more detail and send me an email


Comment From Vamsi

How are the limitation with BusinessObjects about %CT and %GT functions built in BEx is addressed.

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Vamsi, thanks a lot for your question.

First of all I think it is important to understand that this limitation stems from BEx Query Designer. Certain BEx percentage, data and Boolean functions such as %RT, %CT, %GT, SUMRT, SUMCT, SUMGT, and LEAF cannot be released for OLE DB for OLAP. If such a function is contained in a key figure of your BEx Query that is used as a data source in WebI or Analysis it will either return incorrect results or not work at all (see section Release for External Access in the SAP Help Portal).

You can achieve the same results in WebI and for some functions in Analysis:

In WebI you create a formula at report level to achieve the desired result. In your specific case the percentage share of sales (%CT Sales) is either calculated with the Percentage() function (i.e. =Percentage([Sales])) or with a calculation and a specific calculation context, e.g. =[Sales]/[Sales] In ([Region]). A calculation context is advisable if you want to retain the context when applying breaks or sections, or you want to drill.

CT and GT WebI View

Also, please bear in mind that you may need to apply different context keywords, such as Section, Break, Report, etc., depending the specific report context you have. 

Similarly to the WebI equivalent for %CT, you create the following formula with a context for the calculation of the percentage share of the overall result (%GT): =[Sales]/[Sales] In Report.

In Analysis for OLAP you simply click on the relevant measure’s column header and select Calculations / Dynamic Calculations from the Analyze menu bar. Select either ‘Percentage Contribution to Parent’ for %CT or ‘Percentage Contribution to Overall Result’ for %GT.
You can learn more about calculation contexts in WebI read the official Using functions, formulas and calculations in Web Intelligence documentation.


AOLAP view of CT and GT



Comment From Guest

We have found the performance of BOBJ (WebI and Analysis) to be noticeably slower than BW. Is this a common issue and how have Xoomworks and others addressed it from a technical and a change management point of view? Are there best practices around whether key users in the business being able to create their own connections (BICS) to BW queries?  

Tom Kornfeld:  Hi Guest, there can be many reasons for experiencing performance problems with your BO reports. It is difficult to recommend a direct course of actions but I would certainly recommend troubleshooting your performance issues. My colleague Johann Kottas held a Q&A on troubleshooting performance in November last year.
Investigate the various tuning options there are for WebI, starting with Query Stripping for instance.  You should also revisit your adaptive processing servers configuration if you have not already done so and I highly recommend you read “Best Practices for SAPBO BI 4.0 Adaptive Processing Servers” on SCN. Another must read document is ‘How to Performance Optimize SAP BusinessObjects Reports Based Upon SAP BW using BICS Connectivity.


Comment From Brian Wadell
Has BI 4.1 improved the interface between BW and the BOBJ tools to speed up the performance of directly connecting to the InfoProviders? Thus far, the best practice has been to create BOBJ reports on top of BEx reports in order to prevent retrieving more data than needed from the InfoProvider (increasing report processing time).

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Brian, it has definitely improved but as with any reporting tool you need to avoid bringing back lots of data you don’t want. Have you looked into the options in IDT? From a performance point of view there is a Q&A here, which may help you somewhat. Having spent a lot of time on performance related issues and escalations, my best advice would be to test different scenario’s and trace the results. Depending on how customers build their BW DW, performance changes quite a bit.


Comment From V. Barda
Is there any way to trim down the size of the workbooks in BusinessObjects Analysis? Do you advise saving them in a specific format?

Tom Kornfeld: If this is about Analysis for Office then I’m not aware of any techniques and recommendations regarding reducing the size of workbooks. We haven’t heard any concerns about it. In properties of a workbook you can activate option ‘Remove Data Before Saving’. This will definitely reduce its size to minimum.
But if you are talking about BEx Analyzer, then ensure that Compression option is activated in properties of workbook. After activating this option and saving the workbook its size should shrink significantly. Also I’ve seen quite some cases when Excel considered empty cells as non-empty, which also blows up the size of workbook as far as it stores metadata for each such cell. You can verify if this is your case by scrolling down/right using scrollbar. If you can scroll much further than rows/columns consumed by your crosstab, then probably this is your case and the best you can do to fix it is to re-create the workbook.
The workbooks are in Excel format (MS Office 2007, MS Office 2010, etc.).  Any sizing considerations would relate to Excel, rather than specifically to AOffice.  The file will only contain data, tabs, and formatting (charts, etc.) that have been added to the workbook – reducing the size will necessarily mean removing content.


Comment From Sebastian Kraczko
When generating a Web Intelligence report based on BICS, Web Intelligence needs to generate a so-called transient universe in runtime (“on the fly”). This implies that a BEx Query with a lot of metadata (key figures, restricted key figures, attributes, hierarchies, etc.) requires more time to build this transient universe than fetching a universe on the SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise platform. Is there any best practice for when you should use Universes or BICS?

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Sebastian. This is a hard one and we actually spent a lot of time on this at a large customer tracing the actual impacts. A lot was solved in the latest release but as you say, size does matter and you would probably be better off building a UNX.
As the circumstances are different on every implementation it would be really interesting to compare a like-for-like report using the two options.

However, SAP provides code optimizations with each release around the BICS layer, communication with DSL Bridge, and the mechanism within the WIPS around QXP and BICS scrip generation, so it should get better.


Migration & Tools Integration


Comment From Guest
What is required to utilize the Analysis tool? I'm told that I can only use Web Intelligence because of the BEx setup?

Tom Kornfeld: As common for all SAP products, detailed (technical) prerequisites for Analysis for Office can be found in the Product Availability Matrix. Also refer to SAP Notes 1466118 – ‘Hardware & Software requirements for Analysis, edition for MS Office’ and 1739153 – ‘SAP BW Backend requirements for Analysis Office 1.3 or higher’. Not sure what you mean with ‘BEx setup’ and that could prevent you from using Analysis for Office.


Comment From Alfonso

Hio TOM. Is it possible to fully migrate BEx workbooks into Analysis for Office? If yes, is it still required that the workbook is stored in NetWeaver? Or is it now possible to migrate local workbooks (stored in PC) into Analysis for Office?

Tom Kornfeld:  Hello Alfonso,

Yes, you can convert BEx workbooks to Analysis for Office workbook, but you still need to physically move local BEx workbooks into NetWeaver. A full conversion will not be possible, as Analysis has different API concepts that are not compatible with Analyzer workbooks. A certain degree of manual adjustment will be required for converted workbooks, especially where these have been heavily customized in Analyzer. There are a number of non-convertible objects such as buttons, maps, lists of conditions and exceptions, etc.


Comment From Victor

Once BW migrated to BW on HANA, can we only use Lumira for dashboard and Explorer for reporting? Can we still use WebI, Xcelsius, and BOBJ Analysis?  

Tom Kornfeld:  Hi Victor. Yes, you can still use all your existing BI tools, such as WebI, Analysis, Dashboards (Xcelsius), etc.


Comment From Guest

Our users have been using the =BExGetData() functionality in BEx Analyzer to make their own custom reports or to complement their business models. What strategy or best practice would you suggest in converting those to Analysis for Office?  

Tom Kornfeld: Hello, Thank you for your question.

The conversion of BExGetData functions contained in BEx workbooks to Analysis workbooks is supported with Analysis Edition for Office. I am not sure whether there is a generic best practice approach for the conversion but you need to keep in mind that a full conversion of Analyzer workbooks to Analysis workbooks will not be possible. Please see my previous comment on this.
The best approach is probably to conduct a detailed analyses of the workbook you want to convert (in terms of complexity and specific elements) and run a few conversions while analyzing the conversion logs to gain a better understanding of which elements will not convert to Analysis workbooks.


Comment From Tammy

Are there any plans to incorporate some type of launch capability to BEx from the BOBJ launchpad?  

Tom Kornfeld:  Hi Tammy.  Yes, you can do this. Have a look at this link.     


Comment From Tony

The link you provided on launching BEx from the BI launchpad only addresses BEx web. Are you aware of any plans to incorporate BEx Analyzer in the BI launchpad?  

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Tony. Not that I am aware of, but I have not checked on this recently.


Comment From Nigel

Hi Tom, We are in the process of implementing BusinessObjects. Our user community is split between 3.x & 7.3 BEx reporting. I'm a little unsure as to the viability of migrating the reports onto the Business Objects platform. Would you advise migration or do you feel that a line should be drawn where past reports are in BEx and future reports are BOBJ If you feel that migration is the best option, could you give us some tips in doing so and pitfalls to avoid?

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Nigel. This is a very interesting scenario which we recently had with another customer. Here, the initial approach was a full migration from BEx to BusinessObjects. I would definitely advise against using BusinessObjects against BW 3.x. I would also consider your approach regarding new development in BusinessObjects and legacy to be kept in BEx as an interim option but keep in mind that users will be required to work with two tools. Please feel free to contact me at to discuss this in more detail.


Comment From Guest

We have about 500 BEx queries, which business users access using BEx Web Analyzer. Is there a recommended approach to migrate users to the Analysis for OLAP tool?  

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Guest. There are a few different options, but the most obvious one would be to reuse your existing BEx queries in AOLAP (as the data source). You will need to create an OLAP connection in IDT (or the CMC). Once you have done this you are almost good to go. In my opinion, though, it is very important to train your end users thoroughly so that they understand the differences between the two tools.


Comment From Antoine

Hi Tom, While moving some users to Analysis for Excel this week, we've run into issues with Analyzer and Analysis not playing nicely. It seems that some users have the Analyzer add-in enabled in Excel, so when Analysis for Excel is opened both Analysis and Analyzer. I'm not 100% sure this is the root cause. What is technically happening when a user has Analysis and Analyzer open on the same Excel instance?

Tom Kornfeld: You can install BEx and Analysis on a single PC. Only one add-in can be active in an Excel session (in other words, either BEx or Analysis can be active). Please check that in Global Settings of BEx Analyzer option ‘Start BEx Analyzer When MS Excel Starts’ is deactivated.


Comment From Samuele
What are best practices for workbook migration from BEx to Analysis? Thanks in advance.
Tom Kornfeld:
  HI Samuele. Check out pages 34-38 in this presentation.



Comment From Guest

Is there a way of going into query designer from AOLAP without having to login each time for every query change? It looks like Query Designer is not as well integrated in AOLAP as it was in BEx Analyzer.

Tom Kornfeld:  Check out Tammy Powlas’s Q&A which can be found here and this SCN blog.


Comment From Guest
What are the advantages/disadvantage of creating universes from infocubes vs. BEx?
Tom Kornfeld:
To be fair this is a big question I cannot answer here quickly. Using relational universe you are bypassing BW OLAP engine and consequently cannot leverage the features of OLAP engine, such as calculated/restricted key figures, hierarchies, variables, conditions, etc.
If you don’t need these features and/or want to combine BW data with data from other third-party data sources, you may consider using Relational universes. With those you may also achieve better performance as far as you avoid overhead of the OLAP engine and BICS protocol.


Comment From Raul SAP BO

In this landscape, there's BEx and all these BICS. Is it possible to migrate these or just reengineer  sources? Which platform will handle this? A HANA BI solution? Or can it exist in an old-fashioned ora-sqlserver?

Tom Kornfeld:  Hello Raul. If I understand your question correctly, you want to know how you can reuse your existing BEx queries and whether you will be able to continue querying data sources residing on Oracle and SQL Server?

You can re-use your BEx queries by using them as your data sources for WebI and Analysis (and other tools such as Crystal Reports, Dashboards and Design Studio). WebI was originally designed to report primarily against relational data sources on Oracle, SQL Server, etc. Relational data sources will of course continue to be supported, primarily via the UNV and UNX universes. HANA is not required.




Comment From Guest

How we check the reports that are associated with a universe?

Tom Kornfeld: You can use Query Builder in BI 4.1 to find out which WebI reports are running against a specific universe. There is quite a lot of information with sample scripts on SCN, for example, here


Comment From Guest

Hi Tom, is there a way to transport a BusinessObjects Analysis for Excel report from the Development environment to Quality and then Production?  

Tom Kornfeld:  To migrate BusinessObjects BI content through the landscape on the BI Platform, you use Promotion Management in the CMC.


Comment From Guest
After modifying the InfoCube and refreshing the universe, the universe  gets corrupted. The solution is to export the universe in a different folder without overwriting. Do you know this issue and are you aware of any easy solution?
Tom Kornfeld:
Hello, we used to see this scenario in early BusinessObjects XI 3 versions, but as far as I know it was solved. Our workaround was to never refresh a universe. We built a new one, then copied the changed objects back into the old unv manually and that worked. Definitely worth logging with SAP support if it is reproducible.


Comment From Guest
Copy/paste from one report to another report not always working properly. Have you seen this and do you have any suggestions?
Tom Kornfeld:
You say it doesn’t work all the time – which implies it does work at least sometimes. Have you compared users’ desktops/ browsers/versions to try and pinpoint the issue? Or maybe some users do something slightly differently?
I have seen it in older versions but not since (which could mean users just don’t report it). Have you had a look on the SAP support site if it is a known issue on the version you are on? You should find info or SAP notes telling you when it will be fixed.


Comment From Guest
I’m seeing problems with two objects from the same class.

For example if we have a class “Material” with two objects :  “Material Key” and “Material Material Type”  the operator  “Equal to” or “In list” is working only for one object. The results are incorrect if we include both objects.   

Tom Kornfeld:  Which version are you using, and are you talking about an MDX UNV or a UNX? I haven’t seen this problem, but have you tried to compare the result set in another tool? I’d start there.


Comment From Guest
We are also having problems with Not Compounded objects in Query Filters.

For example if we have a compounded object “Work Center Key” and a not-compounded “Work Center Key(Not Compounded)”  the operator “Matches Pattern” is not working properly. Are not compounded objects not supported in BI4.1? Example:  

Work Center Key – “ Matches pattern” - *X* >>  Result CORRECT

Work Center Key(Not Compounded) – “ Matches pattern” – X* >> Result INCORRECT

Tom Kornfeld: Behavior of filtering of compounded objects in Query Filter, from our experience, is quite unpredictable, not transparent, and may vary depending on the particular release of BI platform (SP/patch) and some other factors. Therefore we recommend pushing down filtering of compounded objects — actually all objects whenever possible — to BEx query. This should not only reduce the risk of incorrect behavior but also may lead to better performance.


Comment From Kruno
We have a problem with WebI after hierarchy structure changes on BW. The list of values is refreshed in the query panel, but when we get the data order of values in hierarchy, it isn't the same as it was in list of values. We have tried to purge data and drop WebI cache, but it didn’t help. Any ideas what to try next?

Tom Kornfeld:  It’s difficult to comment without seeing the exact example. Simplify the situation by creating a new report based on that Hierarchy Object only. If you still face the issue I suggest trying to trace the workflow, including Web Intelligence Processing Server , DSL Bridge (including JCO component when using BICS), and analyze the Query Execution Plan and data retrieval. If the issue doesn’t appear with a new report there could be a corruption at play within Information Engine or elsewhere.


Comment From V.Barda
What have people found is the best source of information for best practice development approaches for prompts, etc.?
Tom Kornfeld:
Hi Vivian,
Are you creating Variables in BEx or prompts in WebI reports? I would go to the SAP Support site first. It will depend on the versions you use and will be slightly different depending on whether you are using MDX or BICS. Send us an email to if you need more info.  


Comment From L. Wilson
We have found when editing a Background Filter in Display pane it disconnects the user.  Any solution?
Tom Kornfeld:
Try first to figure out what’s causing the disconnection. My approach would be to collect BI Launchpad, CMS, and Web Intelligence traces for this particular workflow and assess what triggers the disconnect during edit stage. Also verify it this can be reproduced at will for all users or not. If not, narrow down the issue systematically to verify the differences between working and failing scenario.


Comment From Guest

We have users with large workbooks using multiple views — often of only one datasource. Is copying datasources to each new tab the only way to create these views? Is there a way to reduce the size?

Tom Kornfeld: If you need to have in a workbook multiple views of data from the same data source (different aggregation, drill-down, filter, etc.), then I don’t see adequate alternative to having separate data source (pointing to the same BEx query) for each view.

If the reason for your question is long runtime for opening the workbook, then it might be improved by upgrading your Analysis for Office front-end and BW backend. There were some improvements in the area of network communication and data providers’ initialization in recent releases. The improvements only become effective when both parts of corrections (front-end and back-end) are in place.


Comment From Guest

Is there a way to track usage statistics for Analysis for Office and WebI reports?
Tom Kornfeld:
Auditor can capture View and Refresh times for your objects; those are common events. There are also specific events for MDAS and WIPS. Full information on this is in the BIP Admin Guide.

Note that it doesn’t provide BW statistics for the execution. There are other methods to capture those.


Strategy and Adoption


Comment From Andrea

Hi Tom, which strategy would you suggest to convince the management and user to move from BEx to WebI and AOLAP?  

Tom Kornfeld:  Hi Andrea, Start with working with and convincing a small group and showcase the added and new functionality that you do not have in BEx. Highlight possible time savings for end users and invest time exploring WebI which your users will love once they have been able to use and explore its capabilities which are beyond anything that BEx Analyzer offers.


Comment From Jennifer

We are using BEx now, but planning to move to BusinessObjects. What is the recommended approach to get BW folks trained for BusinessObjects?

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Jennifer, it depends a little on which folks. For the project team I would definitely say get a few resources/consultants with a lot of experience and get them working, developing, and setting best practices for you.

For your end users, there are a lot of options, but typically end users don’t really want to try for long. I used to tell them to send me an email and go and sit with them for an hour when they had questions. Time consuming, but definitely time well spent.


Comment From Nicolas
Hi Tom, what would be a good strategy to move from Analyzer to Analysis? What's the best way to convince users?

Tom Kornfeld: Hi Nicolas, Strategy questions are always hard as it will depend a lot on your company and your users. From our point of view we start with a small group of users and sit with them, show them how it works and get them to then talk about it. Have some change management in place with adequate training.

Involve your users early, and establish requirements and create a functional specification for each individual use case: what do users need from the front-end tools – are there currently any gaps in what is offered by Analyzer that perhaps could be filled by analysis tools (i.e. AOLAP, AOffice) or even other reporting tools (e.g. WebI, Design Studio, Explorer, Lumira)?  Bear in mind that a selection of tools may be better than trying to make one tool fit the bill for each report or suite of reports or use case.
Also bear in mind that the added functionality with tools like WebI will necessarily come with some platform overheads – performance must be weighed against additional functionality and features brought by the new tools.  Keep your users in the picture, and after prototypes have been created (perhaps more than 1 prototype to demonstrate different tools) then get feedback from users, and incorporate this feedback into revised proposals. If you can get sign off from user representatives from the business, you’ll have a much easier time getting users onto the new tools.


Comment From Guest
Do you have a tool selection decision tree/matrix to help us decide which tool to use for specific business requirement?

Tom Kornfeld: Hello, SAP has some and we also have them, as customers often ask us to go through this with them. Send an email to and we’ll try to help.


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Bridget Kotelly: Thank you to Tom Kornfeld of Xoomworks for joining us today and sharing his expertise on BW reporting tools.

Tom Kornfeld: Thank you all very much for attending this very enjoyable Q&A. There were lots of interesting questions which I hope I managed to answer to your satisfaction. Please do not hesitate to contact me at

Bridget Kotelly: Thanks everyone for joining today’s chat. For more BI reporting tips, visit our BI Channel   - including a past Q&A from Tom’s Xoomworks colleague Johann Kottas. And I hope to see you at our upcoming BI 2015 conferences in Nice and Singapore

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