Thursday, June 16, 2011

SAP raises the stakes with EPM 10

SAP is now adding new features to its (relatively) new integrated planning tool, BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, often still called BPC. It needs to show customers that it is up to more than just integrating its portfolio and it also needs to face up to scrappy new competitors like Tagetik and De facto, planning tools with a very similar architecture.

The presentation I saw yesterday was nominally about EPM, but SAP concentrated on Planning and Consulting (BPC). It has many new features including a new workspace and Web-based data input. This is something new since the original OutlookSoft product only allowed planning in Excel. Neither Tagetik nor De Facto offer this. The product also allows reporting on non-BPC BW data and a slicker looking Excel interface with some nice new features. Unfortunately, they couldn’t get the template function working in Excel for the demo.

SAP says they will gradually move the whole thing to HANA but did not provide details. Having the database in memory is the best way to provide the performance planners demand. However, in my opinion HANA’s architecture is not very well suited for planning. Column database architecture is available in other business intelligence tools such as QlikView and Microsoft PowerPivot, but they are not suited for planning.

Planning involves adding new data to the database (as opposed to overwriting data) and the automatic data driven modelling features of this kind of database makes it impractical to offer a simple way to add data. You cannot "discover" new periods, scenarios or products in an ETL process. Multi-dimensional databases, with their predefined dimensions, are better for this kind of feature, because the idea of an “empty cell” for adding new plan data comes so naturally.


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arvind saxena said...

Really appreciate your post. I would like to share a couple of things about this. The first thing users should see with EPM 10 is a more consistent look and feel, particularly with the SAP NetWeaver versions of the main applications in the financial space. Each has a more consistent browser-driven user interface that makes process flows -- such as moving between SAP BusinessObjects Strategy Management and SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation -- more intuitive and streamlined.

Another area that’s updated in EPM 10 is the increased data handling and business intelligence (BI) capabilities that now come with most of the SAP NetWeaver EPM applications. Customers have been confused by SAP vendors claiming that EPM required large BI projects to aggregate information and handle financial information in conventional data warehouses. More at

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