Most SAP customers have, by now, implemented SAP BW in some shape or form. Of those, many have created a solid datawarehouse foundation that includes not only the data they require to monitor their key business and financial drivers, but an ecosystem comprising, on one end of the scale, technical BW implementation and support experts and, on the other, casual consumers of BW data. As the datawarehouse matures, so it becomes more pervasive throughout the organisation.
The current trend is to shift focus from those foundation activities towards ways in which the investment in the BW asset can be capitalised upon to realise more business benefit. One easy win in this respect is to consolidate legacy standalone budgeting and forecasting solutions into the SAP BW environment. With powerful planning functionality in tools such as BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation (BPC) and Integrated Planning (BW-IP) sitting on top of the SAP BW Netweaver environment, business cases for doing so can rely on a number of hard and soft benefits.
In terms of hard benefits, the cost of maintaining a legacy planning solution can be saved by a move to BW. That legacy solution will carry a support and maintenance cost, requiring specialist in-house skills or expensive outsourced support. License renewals, upgrades and the supporting hardware landscape add more cost to ownership of such systems. Moving to an SAP BW based planning solution means that your existing BW support, maintenance and hardware can be utilised. Moreover, license costs can be minimised through consolidating onto a single environment.
A key soft benefit of the SAP planning tools is their tight integration with BW. It is likely that, if you have a good BW foundation, then the master and transaction data required to support your budgeting and forecasting process are already present, removing the integration issues that a standalone planning application is prone to. This can save time at key points in your planning calendar which, whether you are producing a financial forecast or updating your S&OP plan, can give you advantage over less well-equipped competitors and free up time for more value-add activities. The flip-side to this benefit is that your planning data are created in BW and are therefore available for consumption through the rich set of SAP BusinessObjects reporting tools that your organisation is already using and used to.
Finally, the benefit of such a reimplementation is the opportunity it gives you to revisit your planning process, with the aim of refining and improving it.