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Thought Leadership

7 Deadly Sins of a BPC Implementation

Posted by Jamison Chochrek on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 14:07 PM

I have had the pleasure of being involved with at least 100 BPC (OLAP) deployments over the past two decades in some role or another. I wanted to share what I believe are the 7 Deadly Sins of a BPC Implementation.  Over the past 9 months I have been speaking with new clients to my organization who have had prior experience with another firm claiming to understand BPC.   Seventy-five percent (75%) of these discussions involved most, if not all of the aspects described below.

1. Not Hiring Experts:  Over and over again for the past 9+ months I have continuously heard about this horror story.  Clients are hiring generalists to deploy BPC when they really need specialists.   In one of the more extreme cases a client spent nearly $2M to deploy BPC on HANA and finally fired their implementation firm.  Turns out this firm had contractors who did not know BPC but owned their own sub-contractors and were farming out the work to offshore resources.   After nearly a year of this, they fired the firm. No wonder their data integration jobs were running over 2 hours!   After a few days with our expert resources, we were able to improve their processes down to just minutes.    The issue here is many consulting firms that know SAP core attempt to take on SAP BPC and ultimately fail.  The fact of the matter is that BPC is a unique and specialized space that requires experts. If BPC Core is like the body, then BPC are the eyes.  The analogy here is that an Ear Nose and Throat Doctor can write prescriptions, but not for glasses. Not all prescriptions are the same. Nor are all consulting firms the same.  Just as you choose the appropriate doctor for the appropriate body part, you should also be selective in choosing your consulting partner especially for BPC let alone achieving EPM.

2. Over-Scoped: This sin mostly pertains to upgrades.  Many clients already satisfied with BPC 7.x are looking to gain the major enhancements in BPC 10 (namely, the elimination of the need for EVDRE’s and better admin/web functionality.)  In this process they also want to upgrade the application and/or increase scope by adding a new data source or perhaps extending new capabilities.   The big sin here is trying to do it all in one swoop. While it can be done, it is much harder to upgrade and enhance at the same time in a single project effort. It is best practice to break those steps up into two projects or at least two phases.  First execute the upgrade. Then enhance.  Doing this saves the client money, makes for higher user adoption and less problems during the rollout.  Mom always said only bite off what you can chew!

3. Lack of “Full” Cross Functional Engagement by All Key Stakeholders, Decision Makers and/or Shareholders:  If one department tries to upgrade or deploy any solution in a vacuum, it is nearly certain to get both resentment and lack of adoption by peer departments. Hands-down the best efforts include both the business and the IT stakeholders as well as the end users and the executive suite. 

4. Moving or Hidden Target:  It is extremely difficult to hit a target that you either cannot see or that is constantly moving.  Project Requirements and Critical Success Factors are those targets.   A project that has clearly defined and documented requirements will succeed where a project that has loose or vague requirements is destined to fail miserably.

5. Caviar Dreams, Tuna Fish Budget:   Excel costs $200 for the Pro edition.  If given enough time and effort, an organization can link, customize and morph their data and spreadsheets into “Excel Hell” pretty easily.  Excel will let you do this and in some ways acts like a database when in reality it is not. It is an application.  A tool.   Because it costs $200 and has been allowed to grow into a problem some organizations have sticker shock when they realize the true cost of a BPC deployment. Whether it is SAP or some other option, there are serious budget elements that come into play. Namely: Hardware, Software, Support & Maintenance and Services required to build an enterprise solution.  Back to the doctor analogy… would you use a medic to perform your surgery because he is cheaper?  How about that eye doctor because he has a free vision exam?  The truth is you get what you pay for. If you need surgery, you need a surgeon. If you are in Excel Hell you need the right kind of experts.  These are the people who specialize in sorting out that Excel mess and quickly distilling that down to a BPC design.  Shorting the project and/or using “cheap” resources to save money can impact your company’s ability to see and manage the business clearly when the project is complete.  While their rates will be lower (tuna fish rates) you will likely end up paying more as they will have to learn how to unravel your Excel model.   In fact (ironically enough), clients end up paying more for the cheaper resources as the time required is much greater.   You get tuna fish at caviar pricing!   Again, you get what you pay for. Hire the right resources for the right tasks and be realistic with your budget on costs.  The benefit is that your company will be able to manage your business more clearly with the fruits of a successful BPC project.

6. Us and Them:  At the end of the day, when the project is complete the consultants leave and the client is ultimately left to manage the solution.  While a “turnkey” approach is most profitable for the consulting firm it is actually the worst option for the client and thus one reason Column5 recommends a better, more collaborative approach.   By collaborating as early and often as possible, the client gains knowledge faster and is more involved with key decisions.  That makes both for better decisions and more understanding within an organization of why choices were made.  It further creates natural touch points for knowledge transfer to occur.  I always know a client project will be highly successful when the client asks if it is ok for our consultants to team up with their resources in a ‘war room’ like approach vs. doing everything remotely.

 7. Lack of Layered Services:   Using the wrong resource for a task simply due to timing and availability are one of the monikers of a deadly sin.  Examples are using a consultant to deliver formal training.  While consultants do a great job of report development, they likely are not aware of the multiple learning styles (Kinesthetic, Auditory, Visual, and so forth).  A professional trainer does.  Likewise, other key roles require specialized skills that a generalist should not perform. These are roles such as Solution Architect, Project Manager, Technical Engineer (software installation), or perhaps the Data Integration lead.   Just as there are specialists in the medical field for the eyes, heart and lungs there too are specialists to an EPM solution. Leveraging the right resource for the right task is a best practice.  Using a generalist to just do it all is a project sin.

Read more about best practices for a BPC Implementation!

You Might Be In Excel Hell If...
Considerations in Upgrading to SAP BPC v10
Evaluating EPM? Where to Start Without Hiring a Consultant!
Why Replace a Working Spreadsheet Based Forecasting Model with SAP BPC?
Meeting SLAs Before You Start Development

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Topics: Best Practices, Thought Leadership, Enterprise Performance Management (EPM), Project Management, Performance, Value, Implementation, BPC (Business Planning & Consolidation)


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