The race between BPC and IP

8 February 2011

Tristan Colgate

Tristan Colgate

Former Managing Director

I recently received the below question regarding my views on BPC V's IP. Given I get asked this pretty often, I thought I'd share my response.

"Hi tristan, I saw a reference to your recent project at an energy company where you had a "race" between BPC and BW-IP. How did it work out and how do you think BPC stacks up against BW-IP? many Thanks."

The result of that particular “race” was that the client overwhelmingly preferred BPC.  A couple of observations on that...

  • The client used their internal team to provide the IP-based prototype and, being unfamiliar with the tool and under time pressure, I don’t think they did IP justice.  We pointed this out (diplomatically!) to the client.  My own opinion remains, however, that BPC is right for this client’s particular requirements.
  • Going through the exercise brought home to me and my team how much easier/ quicker it is to develop a BPC application.  SAP themselves often claim that BPC implementations are 30% quicker than IP ones.  I think it’s a bit difficult to put a figure on it, but 30% feels about right.

In terms of how the two tools stack up in general, I think it really depends upon the use, and the end users...

  • BPC’s Excel interface is a hit with accountants.  The ease with which new input templates and reports can be developed on an existing dataset, and the other rich functionality mean that the tool is really useful for users who are knowledgeable about Excel and who can justify spending time getting up to speed with the advanced features.  Certainly group and business division accountants who spend a significant portion of their time preparing and analysing plans and financial statements would be better served by BPC than by IP.
  • IP’s web interface is far superior to that of BPC, for the simple reason that BPC’s USP is the above – the Excel interface.  IP is great for, what I term, casual planners, e.g. Cost Centre managers who need to enter budget figures once a year, by simply entering budget numbers and performing a few very simple calculations that can be pre-determined during the implementation.   (That said, we have tried out the new integration between BPC and Xcelsius, including the ability to use Xcelsius objects to update data in BPC, and the results are very impressive).
  • BPC’s inbuilt workflow, Business Process Flows (BPFs), is more sophisticated than IP’s Status and Tracking.
  • In general, BPC has a whole host of features not available as standard in IP, such as an online document repository/ portal, the ability to perform offline planning simply etc.
  • In general, a BPC solution is far easier to administer and maintain than an IP solution, with SAP rightly claiming that a BPC solution can be owned by the business.  That said, if changes to the underlying databasis or script logic is required, then I would advocate IT involvement, from a technical and process perspective.

Of course, there are the questions of cost (BPC is very expensive and BW is, effectively, free) and whether IP is going to be shelved.  On the latter, our understanding from SAP (we asked some very pointed questions at TechEd) is that IP is not going to be shelved and will very much still be supported going forward.  They still maintain that BPC is being heavily invested in (which is true) whilst IP will merely be supported from now on, and no longer developed.  My view on this is that IP is a very mature and stable tool and not in need of much investment, whilst BPC is still, effectively, version 2 (for the NetWeaver platform) and therefore does need more investment, especially if SAP are to realise their goal of a coherent EPM suite.

What I’m telling our customers at the moment is that, if your business case supports the investment in BPC, then go for BPC.  If not, and cost is a major driver then carefully assess your requirements, end users, and strategic planning requirements in order to assess whether you really need BPC, or whether IP would suffice.

I hope this helps!

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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