The EPM Centre of Excellence at Bluefin know a thing or two about SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC). Discover why Sue Kirby, our Global Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) CoE Lead, thinks that, in the right situation BPC Embedded should be given fair consideration.
Recently, Sulaymaan Hussein provided an in-depth and accurate look at the technical differences between BPC Standard and BPC Embedded. For those of you who have an inner geek lurking inside now’s the time to check it out here
. However, for the more functionality and commercially focused, here’s why you should be considering BPC Embedded.
A question of maturity
The majority of customers I speak to have a predetermined opinion, or idea, as to the maturity or stability of Embedded implementations.
The simple truth is that BPC Embedded is not a new product any more. It has been around for a couple of years now and in fact, you could argue even much longer than that, given that its simply BW-IP with the BPC front-end attached.
To embed or not to embed?
Typically, a client will make a decision around the version during an initial workshop. When we’re collaborating with our customers we look at the following aspects:
Is there an existing BPC landscape?
Where there is an existing BPC implementation in place, any new implementations will typically follow the same “flavour”, be it Embedded or Standard. Why? Simply because this is the version which the customer is more comfortable and familiar with. The organisation will already have the correct skills and support in place, providing a more stable environment in which to implement into: it’s the path of least resistance. Naturally this decision would need to be revisited if there was a particular functional requirement which required the other version.
What if there is no existing BPC landscape?
Where a customer is looking to implement financial planning then we would be asking the question “Does the customer have an SAP Business Warehouse or are they willing to invest in one?”
If the answer is “No
” we’d recommend implementing BPC Standard on MS SQL. Customers rarely go down this route in this day and age but it does happen.
If the answer is “Yes
” then its Embedded BPC all the way. Here’s why:
1. Rapidly building a team
- Embedded BPC, as I’ve previously alluded to, is really just BW-IP with a BPC front-end. Therefore, it’s not a new product; it’s been around for years. This means that there are many more skilled consultants in the market place and building a strong team is less of an onerous task – it allows you to scale a project quicker.
2. Leveraging your HANA database
– Pre-delivered planning functionality leverages the HANA Database. In an attempt to avoid getting too technical, this simply means that Embedded planning functions run directly in the HANA database, as opposed to Standard functions, which do not. Consequently, they will be far faster and you will be maximising the value you are getting from your HANA database investment.
In addition to this there are more sophisticated pre-existing functions to enrich the data during planning which provides users with additional analytical capabilities when reporting on planning data or doing variance reporting.
3. Simplifying your migration to SAP S/4HANA
- if you’re an SAP ERP user you’re either moving to S/4HANA or moving away from SAP entirely, it’s just a question of when. Embedded BPC implementations can be done in such a way that they are in most part “portable” to an S/4HANA implementation at a later stage.
Should you choose to implement consolidation now, you could port that over to your S/4HANA implementation at a later date to achieve real time consolidation without a full re-implementation. Standard BPC cannot be migrated to any form of Embedded be it on BW or S/4HANA.
4. Streamlining front-end reporting tools
- Embedded BPC uses the Microsoft Analysis Tool as its Excel Add-in, whilst Standard uses the EPM Add-in. In recent years, SAP have made significant investment into these two products. They now come in one install program, but they are still two different products. This leads to the requirement of two different sets of skills in your support team and two different sets of training for your end users.
Given that Analysis for Office is the “excel type” tool of choice for reporting from BW, it stands to reason that it would be more convenient to leverage that knowledge for your BPC users as well.
5.Easy reporting with additional tools
further front-end tools such as Lumira, Webi and DesignStudio etc can easily report on the data in Embedded models as they’re effectively just BW objects and work in the same way.
6. Reduce hardware costs
- Embedded implementations use the same back end storage objects that BW does so data is only stored once as opposed to the Standard method where data must be moved from BW to BPC style objects. The upshot of this is that you’re only going to pay for your HANA storage requirements once with Embedded.
7. SAP innovation
- the eventual path from SAP is clear: whilst Standard implementations continue to be supported, Embedded functionality developments are clearly given priority. The same is true for the front-end: little innovation is being put into the EPM front-end, whilst improvements are regularly available on Microsoft analysis for Office. One only needs to look at the roadmap to see where SAP’s attention is focused.
The facts speak for themselves, you have the safety of using a mature product with the advantages of getting maximum returns on your HANA investment and the peace of mind that when you make the move to S/4HANA you won’t need to factor in the costs of an expensive re-implementation of BPC, and all the additional management that would require. Why wouldn’t you consider Embedded?