Migrating from Business Objects Planning to SAP BPC (Budget Planning and Consolidation)

Following the acquisitions of Outlooksoft and Business Objects in 2007, SAP have recently announced a revised go-to-market offering for Planning, Budgeting and Consolidation. As a result of this, Business Objects Planning (BOP) ceased to be supported from 2010 and customers were encouraged to migrate to SAP BPC (previously Outlooksoft).

Migration to SAP BPC from Business Objects Planning

Introduction

In order to assist customers in their migration plans, this article compares the two systems and highlights the similarities and differences as well as what is to be gained by moving over to BPC from BOP. It also covers the methodology to migrate a current BOP instance to BPC, listing key areas and detailing how the migration steps can be completed. For the purposes of clarity, where we refer to BPC, this is BPC 7.0 on the Microsoft platform, and where we refer to BOP, this is Business Objects Planning XI on SQL Server.

Comparing SAP BPC and Business Objects Planning

Architecture

BOP is based on a SQL Server relational database whereas BPC is based on a combination of a SQL Server relational and an Analysis Services OLAP database. Both systems are Excel based for the more advanced users. They also have web services allowing for the reporting of data. Both applications are based on the .NET framework. Reporting - Both systems rely on Excel to view reports and allow users to take full advantage of working in this familiar environment. BOP's powerful variable reports are replicated in BPC using similar functionality in the 'EVDRE' report type. BOP's fixed reports, which use the PLNSUM formula, are replicated in BPC using the formula 'EVGET'. BPC provides the functionality to create a number of reports in a workbook thus allowing the creation of a reporting pack, similar to the assembler reporting feature in BOP. Input Workbooks - The creation and population of input workbooks can be very powerful. In BOP, the creation of interfaces, SPMs and templates can create very complex workbooks. The Input Schedules in BPC work similarly to reports except they allow for the save back of data to the database. Thus they are more dynamic than the templates in BOP as they avoid the need to populate the template (known as interfacing) before use. BPC input schedules are always connected to the database and allow for the data to be refreshed at any point. The system does allow for the workbooks to be taken off-line using the Park 'n Go feature which is similar to the distributed workbooks in BOP. System Administration - The security settings in both systems can be specific by user or groups of users. The access levels are defined detailing the dimension members and levels user can access. Administration of the dimensions is similar in both systems. Excel is used to control the dimension members, each having a number of columns allowing for the grouping of dimensions.
The Benefits of Migrating to SAP BPC

Architecture

BPC uses both SQL Server relational database and Analysis Services OLAP database. BPC uses the power of the OLAP database allowing multi dimensional reporting for adhoc analysis.

Logic

BOP's calculations on the data are performed using Excel as the engine. This has some advantages but some drawbacks, such as the need for calculation batch processes. BPC uses T-SQL or MDX to perform calculations in the database. These can be set up to perform instantly allowing fully calculated results to be available the moment figures change. Reporting - The data selection tool is available in BPC when running every report. This allows for easy adhoc analysis and drilling for all types of users. BOP does not have such adhoc reporting capability. Also BPC minimises the need to create a suite of standard reports as users are able to select different views of the report using the data selection tool.

The creation of reports for interrogation is far easier using drilling up or down a hierarchy structure on all available dimensions. Data Input - The creation of Input Schedules in BPC is exactly the same as creating reports. The lack of SPM's and interfaces allows for a far simpler method of creating a workbook for the input of data. Data modelling or spreading is a function in BPC that can be harnessed without having to create a number of SPM's. Workflow - The workflow in BPC has far more flexibility than the Process Control Manager in BOP. Workflow in BPC is not only focussed on the status of the cost centre/budget dimension values. All the tasks and processes that are performed and required in the administration of a system can be listed and monitored in BPC. For example a full monthly process can be defined, detailing each step that has to be performed and detailing in what order, and approval is required to move to the following step. Data Import - BPC uses the full functionality of SSIS or DTS (dependant on the version of SQL Server.)

This is a standard database tool which can define the import of data. BPC uses the packages created by SSIS or DTS to import data in to the system. These are known and proven pieces of software which Administrators are generally familiar with. BOP uses its own data load utility which does not provide full data transformation capability. Consolidation - BPC provides full statutory consolidation capability within the application. This includes journaling, eliminations and full audit trail reporting. In comparison, BOP's statutory consolidation features are relatively basic and require customisation to use.

Methodology of Migrating Business Objects Planning to Business Planning and Consolidation

The methodology we recommend is based on experience from our consultants who have come from an Outlooksoft (now BPC) and BOP background. The aim of the methodology is to minimise risk for the project but also minimise effort and time. The full methodology divides each phase into activities - each activity is divided into tasks with deliverables clearly defined at each milestone. Re-implement or migrate - The process we recommend is a mixture of re-implementing certain aspects of the BOP system such as the cube design, templates and calculation rules but to migrate aspects such as reports, dimensions and hierarchies. Using extraction utilities, we are able to extract data and structures easily from BOP for use in BPC. Data and structure design - BPC data model design may differ from BOP, although on the whole, they are likely to be very similar, e.g. a data source in BOP is likely to map directly to an application in BPC. We would determine the BPC design at the early stage of the migration. Data Interfaces - Elements of the data interface can be migrated from BOP to BPC, such as any SQL Scripts used by BOP's Import utilities which can be re-used as Data Packages in BPC. Other standard Import Utilities can be replicated in BPC data packages. BPC's access to SSIS allows more sophisticated processes to be created.

Reports

Most reports in BOP can be replicated exactly in BPC using EVDRE and EVGET functions. Other reports may require some modification in format in layout - however to date, we have not found any reports that cannot be replicated. Input schedules - A key design issue relates to how workbooks can be replicated in BPC. BOP uses the concept of SPM's which provide a powerful way to create variable length input sheets and flexibility. To a large extent, spread rules can be replicated using BPC's Spread data option. BPC provides variable length input sheets using its EVDRE formula. Workflow - BPC uses more sophisticated workflow than BPC - BOP's workflow can be replicated and then enhanced in BPC. Non-validated dimensions - BPC has no concept of non-validated dimensions, i.e. all dimensions must be validated. Therefore the data form design requires to be amended to allow for this type of functionality.

Summary

BPC and BOP are remarkably similar products in terms of architecture, platform and user interface. Due to this, most systems can be migrated to BPC without losing functionality or usability. Certain aspects of the design may require changes but at least 80-90% can remain unchanged. Redcentric provides migration and support services for both SAP BPC and Business Objects Planning and would be happy to discuss any aspect of the white paper in more detail with you.