Planning in the SAP Analytics Cloud. New features and scenarios, or how to understand the word Collaborative


We previously wrote here how to organize the planning process in the SAP Analytics Cloud. Today, I want to talk about new features that appeared in the solution recently. And then let’s move on to examples of scenarios where you can see the flexibility and convenience of this tool.

It is not a secret for everyone who works with the financial planning process that entering data can be very time-consuming and tedious for users. Especially when dealing with complex planning scenarios that include dissemination and distribution of data. However, most of the tools for working with tables (namely, they are the main and favorite for economists) do not have a flexible and understandable interface for such actions. SAP Analytics Cloud now has such an interface, and it is called the Planning panel. This tool allows you to quickly and efficiently run and modify scripts in a single window.

Single window for ad-hoc planning

How did the planning process in the SAC go before? Data entry was carried out only through tables, separately it was possible to call a function, for example, the distribution of values. Now all these actions are done through a single panel: the values ​​are changed and distributed. The Planning Panel consolidates all the changes made in the table so that the user can first view them and then apply them to the model data. see fig. 1.

Figure 1 “Single window”

Data Entry Features

Imagine how an economist has to enter data into planning forms, copy and paste them from one cell to another again and again in order to distribute the values. This is so tiring! The planning panel helps you quickly move values ​​in the table, use the built-in functions and formulas (Fig. 2).

Figure 2. “Data Entry”

Mass data entry is also simplified, now it is possible to first enter various values, model the changes, and only then save the results in the backend.

Smart tips for data distribution

Previously, planning functions were distributed across three different function windows for specific scenarios, including distribution, distribution, and assignment of values. Understanding that this complicates the user’s work in the Planning Panel, a single interface has been created for all selected scenarios. Moreover, the system can offer recommendations on what action and function to use based on the measurements and target cells reflected in your table, see fig. 3.

Figure 3. Smart Tips

New hotkeys

Figure 4. Hotkeys

New hot keys can be used in combination with existing ones to quickly execute planning scripts directly in the table. The full list can be found here. There are some more news. For example, the new SAC Office interface for Office 365 has been released; it is available completely online. This is for those who miss Excel tables using SAC.

Figure 5. SAC Office for Office 365

When we talk about the planning process, many automatically think about finances. But in order to achieve maximum efficiency, the process should be distributed across all lines of the company’s business: sales, personnel management, project management, etc. At the same time, the volume and process of all are different depending on the activities and focus of the department. That is why, in order to avoid the situation from Ivan Krylov’s fable “Swan, Cancer and Pike”, the concept of corporate corporate planning appeared when all plans are combined and agreed upon in an organization. The main idea is to link the planning and budgeting activities of all departments and business units, to be able to compare results and dynamically adjust as needed. SAP Analytics Cloud offers a platform for this (Fig. 6.)

Figure 6. Corporate corporate planning

Let’s look at some common examples of scenarios that can be implemented in the SAC, and then built into corporate enterprise planning.

1. Sales

Using the SAP Analytics Cloud for planning, sales representatives can work with integrated strategic plans, but at the same time have the opportunity to delve into the details, for example, to the level of an individual customer or product, volume indicators calculated here or obtained from SAP IBP yesterday. Do not forget about the analysis. In the SAP Analytics Cloud, you can analyze the overall performance indicators of sales, as well as online modeling of these KPIs. The VDT (Value Driver Tree) toolkit – a tree of interrelated indicators helps to do this. VDT is built on the basis of existing relationships in the planning model and allows you to do “what-if” modeling with the analysis of influence factors in the form of a graph. Such a tree can include both hierarchical elements and drivers, and allows you to change them at any level of the graph. Changing one (or several) factors by a percentage or an absolute value, the user will see all the changed elements (the system will highlight them with color, as shown in Fig. 7).

Figure 7. Value driver tree

Thus, the sales department may have a more detailed picture of the goals and progress towards achieving them. And other departments can develop their plans in accordance with the data of the sales department or, conversely, transfer their data to sales, working for the goals of the company as a whole.

2. Capex

Capital expenditures, regardless of which department they come from, should be effectively planned, as shown in Figure 8. This is due to the fact that capital expenditures entail large investments and can directly affect profitability. It is important for the company to analyze in advance this effect and the possible consequences of such investments, whether it be new equipment, IT landscape or maintenance. And in the end, make the most effective business decision.

Figure 8. An example of the implementation of capital expenditure planning

Here you can also attach the history of project management (Fig. 9). Based on data from SAP PPM / PS, you can build analytics, compare project data by budget and plan compliance.

Figure 9. Project analysis

3. HR management

We continue the topic of collaboration of departments in the planning process. Synchronizing HR plans with finances is also important. Using planning tools, HR can compare the current team structure and goals for sales, finance, production (Fig. 10).
For example, one of our customers (an international company engaged in manufacturing and pharmaceuticals), in addition to the planning process for three horizons: 1 year, 5 and 10 years, has implemented the personnel cost planning process. The subsystem will allow cost owners to plan FTE and related costs (the company has 15,000 employees), manage transitions, promotions, layoffs, coordinate these changes, manage bonuses and deductions in detail, all this in integration with the main HR data management system and of course the main financial planning process.

Figure 10. Staff planning

The same scenarios can be used for the process of flexible strategic planning, sales and operations, as well as innovation. And combining these scenarios on one platform will allow you to share information between all departments and lines of business and work together to achieve the goals of the company.

It is important to note that the implementation of the general model can be done using SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, and the extensions and individual scenarios in the SAP Analytics Cloud. This way you can save your investment in an existing solution and start using the innovative features of SAP Analytics Cloud, as shown in Figure 11.

Figure 11. BPC + SAC

You can still build work only through the SAP Analytics Cloud, as from the release of 2019.5, SAP BPC planning sequences are started directly from the SAC story (Fig. 12).

Figure 12. SAP BPC Planning sequence

In general, SAP Analytics Cloud is now developing very actively and allows you to automate increasingly complex planning processes. Complex from the point of view of automation – due to its flexibility, and complex due to recalculations of the model – due to functional content. Moreover, the solution allows you to expand existing models or processes with a convenient modern interface for modeling, planning and analysis, as well as organize an increasingly relevant concept of collaborative corporate planning. By the way, we are already preparing the material and will soon tell you how to connect to data from the SAP Analytics Cloud, how to enrich the analysis and planning process with the predictive capabilities of the solution: add a forecast of indicators over time, build a classification or regression model. We’ll also talk about self-service data preparation capabilities in the SAP Data Warehouse Cloud.
Posted by Irina Sheftelevich, Senior Business Solutions Architect, SAP CIS

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