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CASE STUDY - Recommendations Pre- and Post- BusinessObjects Acquisition

By Steve Kent, Senior Business Data Architect, Collaborative Consulting

A worldwide consumer products company (WCPC) is in the middle of a multi-year, multi-regional, multi-faceted (the main R/3 application, Advanced Planning Optimization— APO, Master Data Management (MDM) and Business Warehouse—BW) SAP implementation. At this stage of the implementation, each region is in a similar state of evolution.

Each has:

  • A single, but differing, instance of the SAP suite (also different versions)

  • Varying degrees of completeness with the SAP implementation

  • Numerous non-SAP data sources such as Manugistics or BPICS

  • Either a solitary BW instance or uses BW in conjunction with an external data warehouse to house other data such as Point of Sale information.

  • Chosen to adopt different facets of SAP’s BW product suite—to either use BW for reporting and analytics or BW in conjunction with another competing BI product.
Business Need

In order to gain economies of scale from its operations, WCPC established a global supply chain organization to look at its strategic planning process. This organization embarked on an information strategy to provide end-to-end “visibility” into its supply chain as it related to the strategic capacity planning process. The main information needed was to consolidate and aggregate long term demand data from a multitude of different systems (including product master data from MDM) to a level to facilitate analysis and comparison with both actual and maximum machine capacities.

Recommendation pre-BusinessObjects Acquisition

Even though the IT organization, for primarily financial reasons, wanted to go directionally with an SAP solution, after careful analysis the following solution was recommended:

  • As the majority of data sources needed were from non-SAP systems, in a variety of different formats and with data quality issues, WCPC should use a non-SAP ETL tool, with good data quality capabilities to consolidate and align the data—Informatica was one of the corporate standards.

  • WCPC should use a global data mart to stage and store the required data. As BW query performance had been an issue across the organization, Oracle was recommended.

  • To report and analyze the consolidated information, the business should use a third party Business Intelligence tool such as Cognos (which was used extensively throughout WCPC and has a robust set of capabilities).

Recommendation post-BusinessObjects Acquisition

During the process of finalizing the architecture SAP AG acquired BusinessObjects. This substantial change to the BI landscape forced a reconsideration of the solution. The IT organizations direction to go with an SAP centric solution is now much more viable and more importantly, optimal. The BusinessObjects suite of products would bridge the gaps that existed prior to acquisition, namely:

  • Data Services XI 3.0 provides an enterprise-wide set of robust Extract, Transformation and Load (ETL) as well as data quality capabilities in order to standardize, consolidate and align the data from both the numerous non-SAP data sources as well as the SAP data sources. In addition, the BusinssObjects Metadata management capabilities allow data lineage analysis to be performed, which in this particular case, although not specifically required by the business community would in no doubt be used to trace data back from the report to its source.

  • BusinessObjects XI provides a set of robust, market leading, reporting and analytic capabilities that allow the business users:

  • Present and analyze Supply Chain Metrics and KPI’s through the use of dashboards such as Xcelsius, along with some interactive visualizations

  • Report and analyze the information on an ad hoc basis through the use of Web Intelligence

  • Use predictive analytics to assist with the long term demand projections and forecasts
The Landscape Has Changed

The implications of this are obvious. Whereas previously BW was only truly viable in end-to-end SAP environments, now any company now considering SAP and a BI implementation should strongly consider the SAP BI and data integration options. They have acquired one of the premier BI platform providers and, with it, a strong position in the BI domain.

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