The SAP BPC Implementation Ecosystem

11 May 2012

Tristan Colgate

Tristan Colgate

Former Managing Director

Recently, I have been invited by several companies who have attempted to implement SAP BPC, and have run into problems, to take over their implementation project in order to turn it around and make it a success.  This has given me unique insight into why those projects have gotten into a parlous state.  In this blog, I'd like to focus on one aspect which is the ecosystem that is required in order to support a successful implementation.  I use the term 'ecosystem', rather than project team, as many of these roles are not full-time project team members, and merely need to be available in the background and at short notice but are, nevertheless, essential.  I have split the sections below into what is required on the core project team, and what is required in the wider ecosystem.  I'm also focussing on the implementation partner's side - of course there is an equally important ecosystem on the customer side.

Project team

Project Manager (PM)

I have come across several projects where there was no dedicated PM from the implementation partner's side.  The partner had considered the project too small to justify a PM and had tasked the technical consultants on the ground to pick up PM related activities.  Often they have done so under pressure from the client to lower the overall project cost.  This is a false economy and the best way to hamstring a project from the start.  Technical consultants make poor PMs as they generally enjoy the technical work and not the PM work - at the first point in the project where time becomes tight, they drop the PM activities entirely.  This leads to poor forward planning and I have seen many cases where the project team has drifted under no direction until the project budget has run out.  At this point the relationship between the customer and the implementation partner breaks down.  Between 10% to 20% of the implementation partner's overall cost should be devoted to project management.

Solution Architect

SAP BPC does not exist within a vacuum.  The SAP NetWeaver version has tight integration to SAP ECC via SAP NetWeaver BW, the other SAP EPM suite of tools, and the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite of tools.  It is essential that the design of an SAP BPC solution is driven by a solution architect with a good grasp of the capabilities of all of these tools as well as a deep understanding of SAP BPC and how to model complex financial solutions and other business domains.

SAP BPC Consultant(s)

Please see my other blog on What makes a good SAP BPC Consultant?

SAP BW Consultant

If you are implement SAP BPC for NetWeaver then you will almost certainly need a SAP BW consultant as part of your core team and, if not, certainly within your ecosystem.  Beware - all SAP BW consultants are not the same.  You will need an SAP BW consultant with specific expertise in design and building complex ETL systems, using a recognised framework such as SAP's Layered Scalable Architecture (LSA).  It is also essential that they have experience of integrating SAP BW and SAP BPC as there are good, and bad, ways of doing this.  Finally, they will need to have a good understanding of the business domain you are implementing, most likely finance - all good SAP BW consultants will be able to talk you through the options for extracting, transforming and loading SAP ECC Finance and Controlling data into SAP BW, and how this can be achieve as close to real-time as possible to support your period close process.

Ecosystem

SAP NetWeaver BASIS Consultant

Usually customers have their own in-house system administration teams.  However, it is rare to find such teams with good knowledge of SAP BW, and even rarer to find them with good knowledge of SAP BPC.  SAP BPC is especially challenging as, in SAP BPC 7.5, there is an additional .NET server component which makes use of Microsoft IIS/ COM+ technologies that are alien to many traditional BASIS consultants.  Often those teams come from an SAP ECC background and have little appreciation of the special characteristics of SAP BW and how it needs to be tuned and set up.  Often mistakes are made in ordering hardware as the ideal hardware for SAP BW is very much different from that required for SAP ECC - once the hardware is ordered and in-place, it is too late and the end solution suffers.  It is essential to get the right BASIS expertise in place right at the beginning of the project.

SAP ECC Finance and Controlling Consultant

A good SAP BPC implementation partner will be able to advise on a solution that maximises the potential of the entire SAP suite. Sometimes it makes more sense to modify SAP ECC to suit SAP BPC, than to merely assume that the master data and transactional data coming from SAP ECC are set in stone.  I have seen projects where the implementation partner has devised complex and unnecessary SAP BPC solutions to get around situations that could have been better resolved by amending SAP ECC FI-CO configuration.  Having access to deep SAP ECC Finance and Controlling skills is essential to any SAP BPC project.

HP LoadRunner Consultant

If you are implementing a large, complex solution with many users, it is essential to stress test the end solution prior to go-live. Check out Is SAP BPC stressing you out? by Raj Thapar. A negative user perception resulting from poor performance causes friction between the business and the implementation project as a whole, and if the SAP BPC solution causes the users more problems than it fixes, the entire project can be deemed a failure. HP LoadRunner is an excellent tool that we have used in the past to mimic large volumes of users using the system simultaneously.  However, it is complex and requires some deep specialist skills.

SAP ABAP Consultant

SAP BPC's logic script is a powerful and flexible tool for applying business rules to data within SAP BPC.  However, more complex or time-critical functions should be developed using an ABAP BADI, which performs better than logic script.  Again, not all ABAP consultants are the same.  It is essential to have an ABAP consultant with a deep understanding of the BADI framework, ABAP OO, some basic BPC experience, and who can create code that performs optimally.

Change Management

Too often projects ignore Change Management.  Effective business engagement, communication and training is essential to successful user adoption of a new SAP BPC solution.  This requires specialist knowledge of the business process and the tool being implemented, and it is often more effective to source this from the implementation partner who will have implemented similar solutions elsewhere. Check out 'Change Management: Why it is so important?' by Neha Dave.

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

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