This exact list is, of course, debatable from one BPC Deployment Expert to the next. In fact, I am curious to see what other experts think. Here are my top 5 features that are often overlooked in SAP’s Business Planning and Consolidation & EPM offerings.
#1: Business Process Flows
Also known as BPFs. This is a free feature embedded within BPC that requires minimal consulting expense if the user takes the appropriate training. How to achieve this:
I. First, review the SAP documentation. Leverage the User Guide and SAP’s online intellectual property that customers have access to. For example:
- For BPC Version 7 and 7.5: http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/scn/go/portal/prtroot/docs/library/uuid/00971e51-27eb-2c10-479d-d1a0fa8f2cc0?QuickLink=index&overridelayout=true&46458661320078
- For BPC Version 10, check out the SAP Support forums for all kinds of tricks and info: http://scn.sap.com/thread/3501859
II. Second, I would recommend you take 3 hours to complete EPM Academy’s online course, “BPC 10 NetWeaver Application Administration Processes”. A course like this is designed for multiple learning styles, so it will likely suit your needs. Time is money, and this course will earn you both CPE credit and great skills with BPFs! Check out the EPM Academy’s class by visiting this link: https://prosperitylms2.com/req/column5/_student/index.cfm. Then navigate to “Administration for SAP Planning & Consolidation” in the left sidebar. It is under the BPC 10 NW Administration – Course Bundle.
III. Third, continue your education. Leverage experts like:
- Industry veteran’s blog: http://info.column5.com/blog/bid/186227/Adding-Value-through-the-BPC-Consolidation-Process-Part-II
- Webinars from consultants who came from OutlookSoft: http://www.column5.com/the-edge/webcast-library
#2: Work Status
Work Status is directly related to BPFs. It also involves security, data sources, and has a lot more to do with functional process than technical widgets. There are settings to be set within the Admin tool, so some widgeting is of course required, but again, like BPFs this is not overly complicated. SAP’s BPC makes the coupling of BPFs with Work Status easy and wizard-driven. Work Status is a way to manage and lock the data along with the process. For example, if a Cost Center Manager submits his budget for the next Fiscal Year, BPC’s Work Status could be configured to manage the process. After he submits, his manager can then review and Accept or Reject the budget. Let’s say she approves his budget and Accepts it. At this point, that budget is now locked, and the Cost Center Manager could not go in and change those Approved numbers. Likewise, you can also configure the system to be less rigid to allow the Cost Center Manager to revise and resubmit. Again, it is pretty easy and wizard-driven.
#3: BPC for Non-Finance data
Many customers have learned that with simple modeling they can include non-financial data into BPC creating the coveted 1+1=3 aspect of the EPM Maturity Curve. Specifically adding in Operational Data, Sales & Customer, Inventory, and Supply Chain, as well as what the industry calls “unstructured data” such as presentations, images, video, and other supporting data that is now often needed to tell the story behind the numbers. The most advanced, and hence most profitable, clients achieve levels 3-5 on the Maturity Curve and can get 1+1+1+1+1=100. This means that by integrating Finance, Sales, Customer, Supply Chain, Market/Industry, and Internal Input from employees, a decision maker can shift time from data integration to decision making. Instead of that knowledge worker or subject matter expert spending hours pulling together data from disparate systems, that same person can leverage a non-finance data integrated BPC deployment to do amazing things. What is an example of an amazing thing in Dataville? How about instantly pulling up a Customer P&L by region, by month, sorted, and ranked by product volume and margin. Within a click or two, we could add Actual vs. Plan with a variance. Can your EPM system do that?
#4: EPM Formatting Sheet in BPC 10
For some, the EPM Formatting Sheet at first looks intimidating, sort of like the instrument panel of a cockpit. Others have no fear being true Excel warriors. Once you get a 1 minute orientation to it, it simplifies in the mind and becomes a powerful time saver. It works similarly to Cascading Style Sheets, but better. The EPM Formatting Sheet is there whether you evoke it or not. By default it is hidden, but upon clicking the Format button the hidden worksheet is revealed. (Hint: That is the trick of that Button API- It simply toggles the hiding of the worksheet) The EPM Formatting Sheet can be set once for all reports that you choose to use it for. It becomes the ideal method to set a corporate or department reporting standard for fonts, bolding roll-up accounts, highlighting specific levels of a hierarchy, and so forth. What makes this sheet to powerful is that it has both data and metadata intelligence. This means you can set a data format rule such as BOLD all Values > $1M. You could then set another format rule such as BOLD IN RED all values >$1M that are roll-up accounts only Expense Groups (ex: A42000 – Sales Expense Total).
#5: Integration to BOBJ
Moving from a high level Planning or Forecasting model to a detail report can be as simple as a click. Many clients already own SAP’s Business Objects and do not realize that the data integration is pre-plumbed on both sides (BOBJ and BPC). EPIC, for example, is a large Healthcare ERP that OEMs BOBJ. Most healthcare clients can simply deploy BPC and quickly achieve the 1+1=3 paradigm aforementioned. Instead, skillful sales professionals can often convince an organization to purchase a duplicate solution that ultimately leads to harder integration. SAP has figured out the Analysis and Reporting needs for organizations and has invested heavily into smooth integration. Unfortunately, this is sometimes overlooked by clients.
Have you been utilizing these features of BPC? Do you think something is missing from the list?
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