Where to go – Part 2

John_LouwBy John Louw
Principal at Infogility

In the first part of this series I illustrated SAP’s planning application roadmap and how SAP Business Objects Planning and Consolidation (BPC) and SAP Integrated Planning (BW-IP) have come together in the latest release SAP BPC 10.1. This latest release offers the ability to develop planning solutions utilizing different functionality and approaches:

  • BPC 10.1 “Standard” – follows the classic BPC design approach of prior BPC versions
  • BPC 10.1 “Embedded” – Unifies the solid back-end of BW-IP with the BPC Excel user experience

Let’s assume your organization has made the decision to implement or upgrade to BPC 10.1. The next decision point is to decide if the current models should be rebuild in embedded, and if new models should be built in standard or embedded. Even though I’m personally biased towards embedded, there are cases where standard might be a better choice. So in the remainder of this article I will make a case for Embedded and for Standard, followed by a detailed comparison table to assist you in the decision making process.

The case for Embedded

Embedded is HANA optimized and leverages proven IP technology. One could argue that the flexibility to utilize Account based or Key Figure Modeling makes it a superior modeling tool. The tight integration with BW Objects and ETL capabilities creates opportunities to eliminate master data duplication and unnecessary data flows between planning models. In addition it currently appears to be more closely aligned with SAP’s development roadmap e.g. Simple Finance uses Embedded.
The table below summarizes some of major benefits of Embedded over Standard:
[table class=”styled_table table_red”]

Feature Benefit
Modeling Key Figure and Account Based Modeling is available in Embedded, Standard only supports Account Based Modelling.
Integration with SAP BW Completely Integrated with BW, direct access to Master data and InfoCubes. Rather than using InfoProviders in a separate BW namespace, Embedded uses regular real-time InfoProviders and Aggregation levels
Leverage NetWeaver Integrated Planning (IP) planning functions and FOX formulas FOX has been around considerably longer than Script Logic. FOX formulas run directly on the HANA engine, replacing Script logic that primarily runs on the Application Server. In addition Embedded leverages pre-defined IP formulas (planning functions)
Reports and Input Forms based on BW Queries More flexibility and supports BEx Query Structures and the use of variables defined in the BW query. On the flip side, this could be used as an argument against embedded as it requires potentially more IT involvement because a BW Query must be available.
Data changes without commit Allows the user to simulate and review results of formulas before committing data
Inverse Formulas Ability to plan on Calculated Key Figures that are input enabled
Dimension Combinations Validation Rules that control characteristic combinations and the derivation of characteristic values


The case for Standard

Many clients are sold on the belief that Standard empowers Finance, reducing the reliance on IT for master data management, data loads, schedule creation etc. Not only is this is a major obstacle to overcome when making the case for Embedded, but there’salso functionality in Standard that does not currently exist in Embedded.   In addition some functionality in Embedded could be considered less user friendly by existing BPC users.

The table below summarizes some of major benefits of Standard over Embedded:
[table class=”styled_table table_red”]

Feature Benefit
Uploading Files from PC When switching to Embedded, business Users’ ability to change transformation and conversion files is impaired and the functions are effectively moved to IT. Whereas it remains possible for users to load files and review loaded data using IP functionality, loading may potentially take longer (for large files) and it is typically recommended to use standard data staging functionality of SAP Netweaver BW for optimal performance.
Offline Planning The ability to take input schedules offline is not currently supported by Embedded.
Ad-hoc Reporting The underlying BW Queries must be available to enable users to create ad-hoc reporting
Comments In-cell Excel look and feel “pop up” comments are not available in Embedded, however cell based comments are supported


Detailed Feature Comparison between Embedded and Standard

Feature Category Feature Benefit Embedded Standard
EDW BW Integration BW Namespace Share planning with reporting objects
Reduced data redundancy
Multiple key figures Use either a key figure and/or account based models
Time dependent attributes & text Use different attributes by day
Time dependent hierarchies Use different parent assignments by day
Compounding Easy management of composite keys
Stream real time granular data Access transactional data real time
Data loading Use both BW and HANA ETL
Transports Same tool as BW therefore low cost of maintenance
Data Manager Perform ETL work from Excel
Drill Through Drill through to detail for related data
Modeling Options MultiProviders Ability to merge data from a variety of sources
Local Providers Ad hoc planning and reporting HANA tables
No BW development required
Composite Providers Union data from HANA
Plannable DSOs Price planning functionality
HANA Views Mix and match data from multiple sources
HANA Analytic Views DSOs and InfoCubes can be consumed as views in HANA
Planning functionality Characteristic Relationships Control characteristic combinations
Derive characteristic values
Block invalid combinations
Planning functions Off the shelf standard functions
Off the shelf advanced functions
Develop FOX/Script formulas without ABAP
Flexibility to build your own function types
Access to SAP HANA SQL if needed
Planning sequences Bundle planning functions together
Parallel processing
Data blocking available to speed up data writing
Ad hoc data input for testing
Trace mode available for debugging
Run in real time, on demand, or schedule
Planning sessions Provide ad hoc testing and simulation
OLAP Variables Flexibility via prompts
Automatic time determination
Member determination via authorization variables
User exits for formulas based on attributes
BEx Query Structures Complex combinations
Build input forms with fixed rows/columns
Calculated Key Figures Provide metrics on the fly
Built in periodic vs YTD reporting
Restricted Key Figures Restrict a key figure by member
Planning Key Figures Allow input and locking of transaction data
Disaggregation Allow input on parent members
Lock cells Hold cells constant when messaging planning data
Inverse formulas Allow user input on calculated key figures
Work Status Limit data upon process completion
Business Process Flows Status tracking
Guided navigation
Report trees with hyperlinks
Data Audit Track transaction data changes in the fact table
BPC Data Access Profiles Provide LOB management of security
Matrix security Control access to data intersections
Comments Provide free form text for planning assumptions
Data Collection Offline Excel Uploads
User Interfaces HTML5 Fast, intuitive web screens
Mobility Plan and report anytime anywhere
EPM add-in Provide intuitive reporting & planning in Excel
Read mode in word and PowerPoint
Integrated with work status, data audit and data profiles
Local member formulas
Central comment storage
EPM functions
Access to planning functions and sequences
Analysis for Office Provide intuitive reporting & planning tool N/A
Read mode in PowerPoint N/A
Integrated with work status, data audit and data profiles N/A
Local member formulas N/A
Central comment storage N/A
SAP Analysis functions N/A
Access to planning functions and sequences N/A
Formatting N/A
BW Workspaces Provides business user ETL UI
Access to local and composite providers
SAP Dashboards Intuitive executive board UI
Read and write access
Design Studio Complex web template designer
BEx Broadcaster Publish and print