To get a better understanding of what is going on in the business processes, the transaction systems, you need the appropriate data combined within a data warehouse. The amount of business intelligence you get from the reporting system is limited by well the DataSets are integrated. This needs to be viewed along the line of each business process and also via the different types of metrics (dates, trends, variance, percentages, spikes, etc).
This journey starts with the collecting of data from a whole range of source systems, like SAP ECC and its applications. SAP Netweaver Business Warehouse (SAP BW) is the software that facilitates the collection, combining and consumption of business data. It is a best practice to organise the flow of data through the data warehouse using a Layer Scaled Architecture (LSA) approach, which simplifies the handling of data through a series of logical layers. Each layer has a dedicated purpose with the end result being the consumption of data by business users.
SAP BW provides a framework to implement the ‘3 C Sequence’ of the data warehouse for reporting:
- Collection of data into a single system;
- Combining that data;
- Consumption of the data by the business user.
The ability to collect data in the SAP BW planning applications facilitates the direct input and manipulation of transaction data:
- BW-BPS: Business Planning and Simulation;
- BW-IP: Integrated Planning.
Both of these are actively used as an integral part of the business process despite their approaching end-of-life for active development. They will remain an integral part of the SAP Netweaver BW suite of applications for many years beyond their official maintenance support cycle.
Around 2007/2008 SAP AG purchased a company called Business Objects (BO). The suite of BO products included a planning application. The Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) application is now SAP’s official planning application.
There are SAP customers that will continue to use the BW-BPS and BW-IP applications for planning, beyond the official maintenance support period.
“the two planning applications within BW
are destined to go the way of the dinosaur”
BW developers who understand the features and capabilities of the BW-BPS and BW-IP planning applications will also continue to use them for other purposes. Whilst some features are cumbersome and annoying to maintain, they do offer the ability to get small volumes of data into the BW system. This is achieved using standard methods like SAP Extractors, Flat File DataSources, DB Connect and Application Programming Interfaces.
The benefit of using BW-BPS and BW-IP applications to enable business user self-sufficiency to enter non-planning data into BW should not be underestimated. They provide a structured approach to assist with the automation of new data into the existing BW transformation and reporting layers. This is a lot quicker and less risky than relying on the business to provide CSV files and having to wait for the BW System Administrator to upload the file.
The BW planning tools definitely make it easier for the entire business process. The business does most of their data entry and maintenance in ECC and occasionally maintains the ‘Reporting Only’ data in BW using BW-BPS or BW-IP:
What ‘Reporting Only’ DataSets exist in your enterprise?