Many companies evaluate upgrading simply to ensure their solution is still supported. While that is certainly a key consideration, there are other benefits your organization can realize including decreased planning and consolidations cycles, decreased overhead expenses, improved user adoption, better system performance, etc. Read further to understand improvements available in the new EPM 10 / 10.1 releases. And if you still need another reason, remember published support for BPC versions 7.5 and before is scheduled to end 3/31/16. An MS update or other software, hardware update which is not backwards compatible could cripple your reporting, consolidation or planning processes. While SAP may choose to support, if the issue does not impact the vast majority of companies, they may also choose not to, leaving your organization in a lurch. Instead of being reactive later, start planning now to allow you to strategically set the direction forward for your organization.
Following the summary of “What’s New”, we’ll provide some tips and considerations for your organization when evaluating the upgrade. One tip alone below could save you up to 50% of your upgrade cost.
General Functionality Improvements
Enhanced Integration with SAP (SAP NW version only)
EPM - Upgrade Tips and Considerations
Implementations 5-10 years ago were likely performed based on current value and common industry practices for that time.
To provide one example, planning solutions have become more decentralized and driver based in the last 5 or more years. Instead of just collecting the dollars from the finance support staff, planning solutions commonly now focus on drivers for the plan and extend to the business user providing the information. Sales personnel in the field enter their sales volume or key pipeline drivers directly to the system. Instead of spending hours submitting data to the system, the finance support staff focuses on analytics and adjustments to the forecast / plan as needed.
As such, the value of your EPM implementation to the organization can greatly increase when implemented in a way that eliminates offline data aggregation, minimizes offline calculations and other “black box” processes. The results can decrease close time, decrease forecast cycles, decrease overhead costs, and increase the visibility and accuracy of your company’s FP&A and Controlling processes.
The new report writing tool provides an easy user interface that allows organizations to decentralize their report writing and ad-hoc reporting if desired. The drag and drop reporting and excel formatting makes this report writing tool accessible to anyone with basic Excel skills.
That said, rewriting reports to the new interface may not provide value your organization intends to bring with the upgrade. In certain situations, the new tool may provide improved performance, but with more advanced report writing, the performance from legacy EVDRE reports may actually function better. SAP has invested quite a bit of time to ensure EVDREs are compatible in the new tool. From our experience, the vast majority of EVDRE reports now work in EPM 10 or 10.1 with minimal updates.
In addition, SAP will support the current BPC version through at least 2020 and has no current published plans to create a new report writing tool. SAP has actually worked to make the EPM add-in the go to report tool for several other tools in the product suite.
Based on that strategic direction and background, for BPC upgrades, SimpleFi recommends rewriting key reports to the new format but suggests evaluating other reports or templates on a case by case basis, if needed.
This approach could save your organization much time, frustration, and up to 50% of expected upgrade costs.
BPC on HANA
Historically, dimensionality such as Customers and Products in BPC and other OLAP based tools is limited to the thousands. For example, a customer dimension may handle 20 – 50k members but much more could grind your reporting to a halt. Of course, this is all based on a more complex sizing algorithm which also incorporates the density of your data.
But for companies with hundreds of thousands of SKUs required for reporting or planning, SAP’s HANA database should be a consideration. SAP has invested quite a bit of time and effort to enable BPC for HANA and companies are seeing the benefit when the business case is strong enough. In cases with large data sets, report query times have been reduced 50 fold. In other cases, HANA has enabled a reporting or planning application that would otherwise not be feasible with traditional databases.
Standard vs Embedded Versions
The new embedded version of BPC is based on SAP’s legacy BW IP planning solution. With it, SAP takes the first step to integrate this solution with BPC going forward while still leveraging some of the benefits of the old BW IP tool. Some of the benefits over the standard model include:
However, the embedded version of BPC comes with some pitfalls as well. Much of the functionality that has made BPC so popular to finance and business users is not yet supported. It is also not clear if SAP intends to integrate this legacy solution and the BPC solution more in the future.
For legacy customers, simple use cases where the integration is of great advantage, and very data intensive environments, the embedded model could be the best approach forward. Leveraging an embedded model for one use case that may make sense, such as Cost Center planning, does not prevent your organization from using the Standard model for other applications – although the two do not integrate with one another inherently.
For more information, assistance building your business case, or general questions, contact SimpleFi Solutions.
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