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Your career at Inspiricon

Your Career at Inspiricon

Hello community,
For a change, we are not talking or writing about a technical-related topic – today, I will present you three of my colleagues who started as Juniors at Inspiricon and who will share the story about their career path:
Ana is Team Lead of our Cross Technology Team.
Lorena and Diego are both Junior Consultants SAP BI.

Hi Ana, Lorena and Diego – we start straight away at the beginning:

What were the key influencing-factors concerning your career choice?

Ana: My first contact with programming was in 7th grade. I had a course called TIC where I learned peseudocod and Pascal and then I fell in love with programming. Since then I knew that’s what I want to do, and I chose a high school where I could study computer science.

Lorena: I like everything that means science and that’s why I chose a faculty based on computer mathematics. After all, my job is based on science.

Diego: The most influencing factor for my career was and still is my father, who also is a consultant and showed me the points that would interest me to work with BI.

How did you find Inspiricon? Or rather, why did you choose to work at Inspiricon?

Ana: I think they chose me. Before Inspiricon, I worked in a German company where the project manager was one of the co-founders of Inspiricon.

Lorena: I found this post on the internet and I applied it from the curiosity to learn new things.

Diego: I found Inspiricon when I was specifically searching for SAP BI opportunities in Germany on the Indeed website. What attracted me the most to join Inspiricon was the enthusiasm with which the company was presented to me with concrete plans for the company as well as my personal development.

Please tell us in your own words, how your job evolved from your first day until now.

Ana: I was lucky to be part of a team that managed to read my skills and guide me in my career. I love what I do. Being in the company from the beginning, I was able to see many processes and learn a lot: how to build a company, how to win a project, how to develop a project from scratch. I managed to evolve from a simple programmer to a team leader, and that’s because the people who guided me trusted in me. That’s why I’m not afraid of new challenges.

Lorena: I started this job without any knowledge in this domain. But after a year in Inspiricon I can say that I learned a lot of things. I have improved my knowledge and every day I learn new things.

Diego: I could feel my professional development along of this first year working for Inspiricon. Not only technically, but also regarding my relationship to the customer, as well as other relevant skills for a consultant. I would say that the personal coaching I receive is an important factor for this development.

What features are characteristic for working at Inspiricon? Is there something special you did not hear about before? Is there a difference between Inspiricon and other employers?

Ana: First of all, it feels like family and I come to work with pleasure. I don’t think you can find something like this in every company. Being a small company, we have the chance to be much more united and transparent. We are connected as much as possible and we always deal with new challenges. The beautiful part is that we have built friendly relations and we do not only meet at work, we go out and have fun outside the working time.

Lorena: At Inspiricon we are like a family, we help each other and share our knowledge.

Diego: Inspiricon managed to develop its own culture. It is very easy to fit in with its very welcoming environment. Inspiricon is professional, but often worried about having a health environment for us to work. The periodic meetings keep us inside of what is happening and we are welcome to present and work with our own ideas.

If you could change something at your job, what would it be?

Ana: Maybe the location in Cluj (I would love to have a place to relax outside). As far as the organization of the company is concerned, I have nothing to object at the moment.

Lorena: I do not have to change something at my job, because here we are like a family and I like my job.

Diego: I would say traveling is something that as a consultant you must constantly do, it is the point I like very much, but the excess of it can be quite exhausting.

Now follows a question for you 2 women: The IT world still is rather a man’s world – do you feel treated differently as women compared to your male colleagues?

Ana: Maybe on women’s day when we get flowers. I do not feel treated differently from a male employee what seems to me normal. All employees should be treated the same way, either men or women.

Lorena: I do not feel treated differently as women compared to my male colleagues because everybody is free to choose their job and you do not have to be a man to be good in this domain.

Is there a tip you have for job entrants based on your experience so far?

Ana: Treat every problem in the company as if it would be your problem – that will help you to be more committed and involved. I think it will give you satisfaction when you see your results.
And another important thing is to be always open and transparent with anything. Because in general for everything there is a solution as long as you know how to communicate.

Lorena: If you like your job, you will always progress.

Diego: The beginning is always hard, but there is always someone ready to help and to support you.

Finally an outlook into the future: What goals did you set for your job (at Inspiricon)?

Ana: For now I am focused on building my own team(s) and have a positive impact for the „team players“. This I think will bring me satisfaction and would mean that I have developed professionally.

Lorena: I want to make more progress and I wish for my work and my knowledge to be useful to everyone.

Diego: In only one year’s time I have been working at Inspiricon, its sustainable growth and maturity gain is already visible to me. I expect to keep developing my career as a consultant and contributing to Inspiricon’s development.

Thanks guys for your time and your answers – I wish you all the best for your future at Inspiricon!

You want to become a part of our success story? Start with us now and checkt out our job offers – And if you can’t find anything right away, you are more than welcome to submit an open application.

Author
Linda Vogt Marketing
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
BI Academy at Inspiricon

BI Academy at Inspiricon

The BI Academy and how to get from zero to hero

The BI Academy at Inspiricon is a home grown training programme that we designed in order to have a sustainable growth of the team. We based this training on previous leadership experience, technical expertise and commitment from participants and trainers alike. The programme has been going on for two years and has had a throughout positive impact (for us: talented junior consultants). It is being upgraded and adapted continuosly to fit the always-changing market, always improving and adding quality and content.

How does our Academy work?

First of all, we should talk about the purpose and the approach we have in the BI Academy. To put it shortly, the academy serves two purposes:

  1. Firstly, it is meant to give the opportunity to young interns to get structured know-how and,
  2. secondly, to consolidate or add know-how in new areas for existing consultants.

Taking that into account we designed two different tracks: the fast track and the enhancement track.

The fast track

The fast track is meant for juniors who start from scratch. They go through an intensive business scenario oriented course in which they tackle a wide variety of subjects – which means: all hands on deck or the ship goes down! They are stimulated both on the technical level, but also have to develop their soft skills. They learn how to collect requirements, negotiate and manage conflicting objectives, give and receive feedback. The environment created in this way challenges the whole team as trainers need to answer ever-increasing complex questions from the junior side. This also translates in an integration in the team as they interact with all team members.

Looking at the numbers, it becomes visible we are not focused on quantity, but rather on quality, forming small working groups that can outperform the high turnover rate of competing companies. In the past 2 years, no less than 13 young professionals have started the academy of which 6 are on board since then and 2 are in the process of onboarding.

During the 2+ months, interns go through a curricula that is comprised of:

  1. Introduction to the SAP landscape
  2. Basics of SAP BW
  3. Modelling on a business scenario
  4. SAP Reporting
  5. ABAP in BW
  6. SAP BW on HANA
  7. SAP Business Objects

The enhancement track

The enhancement track is our on-going know-how exchange system in which all team members contribute. Topics are requested or proposed by the team on a regular basis and are followed by hands-on-workshops which are organised for different levels and skill sets. Any specific subjects can be taken from a junior to an advanced level, as per team requirements. What we end up with is a very fluid learning system which is tailored to the team’s needs. The results are very visible in the increasing skill set of the members and the constant collaboration of cross project and cross technology teams.

All in all, the training programme has added value to our team, and in turn, to our company and will continue to do so in the future.

Would you like to learn more about the BI Academy? Contact us now for more information and the next starting dates.

Author
Victor Livadaru Team Lead SAP BI
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de
SAL Fiori query runner

How to generate reports at the touch of a button with the BW Query Runner

Author: Andrei Ghiura, SAP Consultant, Cross Technology Team

In this blog post, we will talk about the third and at the moment, the final SAP Fiori application in our Inspiricon Toolbox: the BW Query Runner. It is an application that allows the user to run a certain list of queries defined in BEx Query Designer. It mimics the functionality of the standard analyser add-in from Microsoft Excel but with a mobile approach.

You can read more about our other two apps – Manage Users and Time Tracker – in our blog.

The motivation

First of all, we have encountered an issue with viewing BI data on the go. This does not apply to big sets of data, reporting or any other comprehensive BI processes. The BW Query Runner is designed to suit user who need access to data in an intuitive format, in a mobile environment and with minimum effort.

The target

With this Fiori app we hope to mainly touch the group of people that want to have access to business data for their company while having the freedom they need in order to operate.

The solution

Our Inspiricon Toolbox component, the BW Query Runner, is a solution we have come up with as a kind of “Swiss army knife” for our target users. Instead of designing an application for each of their needs, we wanted to offer them a taste of what this new technology can do – so we have created this new Fiori application. After a couple of custom tailored apps for certain needs that were described in this blog beforehand, we settled on an application that was able to substitute, in part, all of them.

The technical side

First of all, we made use of the SAP Gateway component in order to transform the BI queries into consumable OData services that were going to be used in the BW Query Runner. This allowed us to create a seamless experience for any technical support that wanted to maintain our toolbox. Adding a new query to the list available in the application can be done in a few clicks (see FIG.1).

FIG.1: Adding a new query

FIG.1: Adding a new query

The functional side

Our application has a suite of functions that are readily available to the end user to demonstrate the capabilities of the new technology as well as the Inspiricon experience in BI. Among these, we can recall as major ones:

  • Easy access to a list of predefined queries tailored to each user’s preferences and needs (FIG.2 AND FIG.3).
    FIG.2: Predefined queries

    FIG.2: Predefined queries

    FIG.3: Predefined queries

    FIG.3: Predefined queries

  • Custom selections in each query for always having the optimal experience for the best performance (FIG.4 and FIG.5).
    FIG.4: Custom selections

    FIG.4: Custom selections

    FIG.5: Custom selections

    FIG.5: Custom selections

  • Custom filters for fast viewing of the data you require (FIG.6).

    FIG.6: Custom filters

    FIG.6: Custom filters

This was a short introduction to our third addition in the Inspiricon Toolbox, the BW Query Runner.

You want to find out more? Please contact us directly or go to our website: http://en.inspiricon.de/sap-fiori/. You can also find a lot of information in our flyer on the Toolbox. We hope that you enjoyed it and will come back to find out more about our next application :)!

 

Author
Andrei Ghiura SAP Consultant, Cross Technology Team
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de
SAP Fiori time tracker

Efficient time logging for your company with the Inspiricon Time Tracker

Author: Ana-Maria Pop, Teamlead Cross Technology

Today we will talk about our second application from the Inspiricon Toolbox, Time Tracker. This application helps to manage the employees’ working time within an organization.

Why did we choose to develop this application?

There are companies, especially the ones which work with SAP, that have solutions for time tracking based on excel. We saw that Microsoft Excel is considered by many to be the most commonly used BI tool in the world, but from our point of view it is not efficient enough. That is why we have found another way to access and analyse SAP BW data, through SAP Fiori and OData service.

The backing of the Inspiricon Time Tracker application is assured by a Planning Cube. Data transfer from the backend is made possible through an Input-Ready Query which is consumed as OData in the Fiori application.

How does the application work?

We will explain the workflow based on an example:

Let’s assume that you are an employee in X Company – a company which is using a SAP ERP and they will always need BI tools for visualization, reporting and so on. Every day you work on a project and on a specific task of this project, but you need to keep track of all this.

How do you do that?

With Time Tracker! A cross browser application which allows you to stock all this information. You can do it from anywhere and from any device: PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. It is all real time, so if your manager needs your timesheet right now in this moment, he will just have to login to the application and it’s all there. Or if you have made a mistake in your logged work, it’s only a matter of seconds to change it.

Functionality, scope and workflow of Time Tracker

The functionality is quite simple and straight-forward. Usually in SAP Fiori applications, it is a best practice to split the functionality as much as you can. For example, in the timeline case, there will be at least three applications:

  1. one for login the work,
  2. one for planning
  3. and one for request approval.

Time Tracker is the one to login the work.

Basically, you have just one view with all functionalities (FIG.1):

FIG.1: View with all functionalities

FIG.1: View with all functionalities

  1. Filter by date: The data binding between Calendar Date Interval component and the OData received was a bit tricky (because of the ACALLDAY). But we don’t give up easily! We created the mock-up with this component and the result was a success. With this component, you are able to choose a specific date or an interval to visualize your work.
  2. Have an overview off all logs: this is table component with search and sort as additional functions (FIG.2).

    FIG.2: Overview off all logs

    FIG.2: Overview off all logs

  3. Log your work: you just have to click the Log Work button and a dialog with a submit form will open. Choose the project, the task, add a description of what you did, the number of hours, click Log and you are done (FIG.3 and FIG.4).
    FIG.3: FIG.2: Overview off all logs

    FIG.3: Log Work (Desktop)

    FIG.4: Log Work (mobile)

    FIG.4: Log Work (mobile)

  4. Update each logged work: is also a dialog which will open when clicking an entry from the table – here you can adjust the number of hours (FIG.5).

    FIG.5: Update logged work

    FIG.5: Update logged work

And this is the scope and the workflow of our second application. In the future we plan to implement the planning and the request approval applications as well.

All good things go by three

Next week we will present our third app to you– BEx Query Analyzer. Maybe a bit more technical application but also very very interesting! 🙂

You missed the article about our first application, Manage User? No worries, you can always read it on our blog.

Find more information about the Inspiricon Toolbox on our website and in our handout SAP BI meets SAP Fiori.

 

Author
Ana-Maria Pop Team Lead Cross Technology
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de
SAP Fiori Stammdatenpflege

How to create applications that connect SAP Fiori and SAP BI

Author: Ana-Maria Pop, Teamlead Cross Technology

Let’s talk about SAP Fiori. How do we use it for our clients and what we have done so far?

SAP Fiori is a great opportunity for us at Inspiricon. Why? Because in Cluj, our Romanian location, the core competencies are SAP BI and platform development – two different areas and different technologies. Through Fiori and SAP HANA, we succeeded to build a “bridge” between these departments. Our Cross Technology team is handling the development of SAP Fiori applications.

Until now, we already have some success stories. Moreover, we created the Inspiricon Toolbox, which is a suite of applications created based on the new architecture recommended by SAP (read more about the Inspiricon Toolbox here).

We wanted to cover specific operations from SAP with this toolbox, leveraging functions of DSOs, functions on an Input-Ready Query (based on a Planning Infocube) and to replicate BEx Analyzer. Based on this, we defined the business objectives and until now we have built three applications:

  1. Manage Users
  2. Time Tracker
  3. BEx Query Analyzer

Today we present you the first application: Manage Users

This application allows all CRUD operations on a DSO. The big picture of the application is: “As a user of this application I want to be able

  • to have an overview of all the users,
  • to create, update, delete a user
  • and also filter and search through the list of users.”

Step by step towards a new application

Basically, we needed to create an OData Service and then to consume this service through the SAP Fiori application. A Fiori application is created based on the SAPUI5 framework and the SAP Fiori Design Guidelines (read more on SAP Fiori applications in our blog). All architecture is created based on the MVC model and we use sap.m library because we want our applications to be responsive – across all devices (desktop, tablet and smartphones).
The next step was to split all the functionalities and to create the architecture.

First we decided how many views we will need, which functionality goes on what view and what component fits the functionality. What do we need?:

  1. An overview of all users; in terms of SAPUI5 this is a list or a table component,
  2. Create a new user, that means that we will add a new view or just include a popup where to add user data
  3. Update users, it’s the same scenario like adding one.

Structure and components come to life

After doing a set of mock-ups and comparing our alternatives, the following structure and usage of components was implemented:

  1. Overview: a table component, sap.m.Table, connected to table data model which will update whenever a change is made in this model – e.g. delete or update a user (FIG.1 and FIG.2)
    FIG.1: delete or update a user (desktop)

    FIG.1: Delete or update users (desktop)

    FIG.2: delete or update a user (mobile))

    FIG.2: Delete or update users (mobile)

  2. Add new user: for this functionality, we have decided to add a new view to our app. Basically we needed to add the route component, sap.m.routing.Router and implement a route handler. The main component used in this view is a submit form, sap.ui.layout.form.SimpleForm (FIG.3 and FIG.4)
    FIG.3: Submit Form (desktop)

    FIG.3: Submit Form (desktop)

    FIG.4: Submit Form (mobile)

    FIG.4: Submit Form (mobile)

  3. Update user: it is also a new view with a simple form (FIG.5, FIG.6 and FIG.7)
    FIG.5: New view (desktop)

    FIG.5: New view (desktop)

    FIG.6: New view (mobile)

    FIG.6: New view (mobile)

    FIG.7: Update view (mobile)

    FIG.7: Update view (mobile)

  4. Delete user: for deleting a user, we just needed a selection handler in the table, a delete button and a component to notify if the delete was successful or not (sap.m MessageToast).
  5. Filter: we use sap.m.IconTabBar, which allows us to filter the model when clicking an icon.
  6. Search: it is a component included in the table we’ve just had to connect it to the table model.

A very important aspect of the UI development process is the handling of data binding. Lucky for us, SAPUI5 provides out of the box ready to use components such as sap.ui.model.odata.ODataModel, which needs only the OData service URL and will handle all the CRUD operations and also search and filter.

And this is how the Inspiricon toolbox was born and also his first child: Manage Users.

And now? What is next?

As you can see, we only presented the concept for the first application and we said that there are three applications in our Launchpad. Next time we will talk about the Time Tracker application. So stay tuned :)!

We connect SAP BI applications with SAP Fiori: Inspiricon-Toolbox. Learn more on SAP Fiori, Inspiricon Toolbox as well as the connection of SAP Fiori with BI. Our flyer offers everything at a glance.

You are looking for more information on infrastructure and landscape? Do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Author
Ana-Maria Pop Team Lead Cross Technology
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de
Inspiricon SAP HCP mobile services Fiori

SAP HCP Mobile Services for SAP Fiori – new ways for mobile use

SAP directs its product strategy towards the future and uses keywords like “Mobility first” and “Device independence“. With SAP HCP, mobile services for SAP Fiori, the technical basis for the development of applications has been extended immensely. And it was about time: in a lot of cases, potential of mobile applications is lying fallow – this relates in particular to cost reduction and efficiency.

SAP HCP and SAP Fiori

SAP HCP (HANA Cloud Platform) is an online-service that is offered within SAP’s platform services (please read our blog article on SAP HCP: http://en.inspiricon.de/sap-hcp/). It is one of the most favorite PaaS offers (Platform as a Service) which are currently on the market. The cloud computing platform is addressed to software developers and comprises different services such as SAP HANA databases, IoT services (Internet of Things) and integration services.

SAP Fiori stands for a number of applications for the SAP system in SAPUI5 or rather HTML5 (read our blog on SAP Fiori: http://en.inspiricon.de/category/technology/fiori/). SAP Fiori enables the mobile use of SAP transactions. Concerning User Experience and Usability, SAP was not the first name that came into mind in the past – but the IT made great progress especially in these areas.

SAP HCP is the central extension and development platform for applications in the cloud. It is a real all-rounder that will probably soon be used from each SAP application company. SAP Fiori for mobile users is optimized by means of SAP HCP. This offers completely new possibilities. The advantages and the simplicity of use convince in many ways.

What are the advantages of the new platform?

  1. SAP Fiori can be aimed to the use of mobile user by means of SAP HCP. Mobile users are able to open their internet browser via SAP Fiori applications – in doing so, a secure and seamless integration is granted. SAP HANA Cloud platform is an application service that enables an optimization of mobile activities.
  2. End-to-end solutions allow customization, protection and connection of Fiori Apps – as well as testing, distribution and surveillance of applications.
  3. SAP Fiori applications work on portable devices as veritable mobile applications. Users benefit from a high usability.
  4. Device functionalities like barcode scanner, authorization and data security can be implemented and designed in terms of usability – the same applies for branding.
  5. Users are able to profit from device functions quick and comprehensive. Receiving push notifications and accessing local data are smooth processes.
  6. Companies benefit from high usability and data security. Extensive authorization methods increase security and allow to allocate authorizations.

How to do it

The platform SAP HCP for SAP Fiori can be used quite easy. If you want to try it, you can create a free developer account. All you have to do is to register and apply for an account: that can be activated by an e-Mail link. The platform is designed in a clear way and you will be able to use it intuitively. On the left-hand side you will find the most important features such as the dashboard, HANA XS applications, database systems, HTML5 applications, services and authorizations. As soon as you click on one of the categories, the corresponding category will open on the right-hand side. E.g. Internet of Things, device management or Fiori Mobile. The following steps are self-explanatory and follow the principles of a modular design, based on intuitive handling.

SAP HCP for mobile services for SAP Fiori

Using SAP HCP is quite simple and you do not need special prior knowledge. Advantages for mobile services are huge. There are tangible improvements especially with regard to data and application security, usability and interlinking. By means of user-friendly innovations, fundamental possibilities have been created to improve usability and user experience as well as to design mobile applications in a forward-thinking and modern way.

Inspiricon Best Practice: How to develop a search for http-services with SAP Fiori und SAP HCP

We built a sector-independant and standardized solution for autosuggest with fuzzy matching. Read our Best Practice here: Inspiricon developed a search for http-services with SAP Fiori and SAP HCP (only available in German).

 

Author
Andrei Vlad CEO Inspiricon SRL
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de
Inspiricon 3. Geburtstag

Happy 3rd birthday Inspiricon

Inspiricon SAP BW Upgrade 7.4

Being successful with Inspiricon Best Practices: Upgrade SAP BW 7.3 to 7.4 at a global pharma group

Today, we present you an upgrade project of Inspiricon. It was a SAP BW Upgrade from 7.3 to 7.4, realized in the years 2015 – 2016.

Our clients‘ requirements were the following:

  • Release change to SAP BW
  • Increase of system stability
  • Integration of HANA-optimized data models

Please find a summary of our approach here: http://inspiricon.de/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Inspiricon_Upgrade-SAP-BW-7.4.pdf

Our initial position

Before the upgrade, our client had the release SAP BW 7.3 with different service packages. The upgrade to version 7.4 was necessary in order to

  • enhance system performance
  • develop mobile reportings and applications with Fiori
  • keep SAP systems up to date (bringing in the latest SAP information)

The challenge for Inspiricon

Due to the fact that our client is working globally, our project team was confronted with a heterogeneous IT landscape. The existing reporting is also used worldwide. As a consequence, the BI system creates the possibility to work with the data globally on group level in order to ensure a uniform reporting system.

The following challenges had to be solved from the Inspiricon team in this project:

  • Connected systems and related dependencies had to be taken into account
  • The existing landscape is very complex
  • Many projects were ongoing during the release change, all simultaneously on the system that was to upgrade. Organizationally spoken, information exchange between different projects had to be coordinated promptly in all time zones.
  • No interruption of ongoing operations (“silent upgrade”)
  • Test management: ongoing coverage of all existing system functionalities

The project team comprised up to 20 persons, of which two were Nearshoring resources (BI-IT). The Inspiricon Nearshoring-team contributed the onsite-team not only with its long-time experience and quality standards but also with a significant cost benefit. Read more on Nearshoring here.

 

Inspiricon Project Approach

Inspiricon Project Approach

 

Successful project closing

Go-Live was at the end of May 2016, followed by an intensive Hyper Care Phase for 3 weeks. During this time, our Inspiricon team supported the client until the system was running as performant and stable as it was required.

Due to the release change, our client is now able to use the latest HANA objects entirely and to benefit from their performance advantage. Customer requirements were fully met – subsequent projects are already assigned.

Inspiricon Best Practices

We can learn a lot from successful projects. That is why we developed best practices for future projects from this upgrade project. They include the following and can be transferred to other projects:

  1. Upgrade process (Approach, Upgrade Project Timeline)
  2. Upgrade of technical plan (Pre-upgrade, Upgrade and post-upgrade checklists)
  3. Resource Matrix (Project Organigram, Roles and Responsibilities, Communication Matrix)
  4. Challenges and recommendations

Additional to this blog post, we recommend you to read our Best Practice “Inspiricon Best Practices in use” (only available in German).

You are interested in SAP BW? Read more on http://en.inspiricon.de/sap-bw-bo/. You are also welcome to contact us directly – your contact person for SAP BW is Michael Schmer.

 

Author
Istvan Boda SAP BI Consultant
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de
Inspiricon HANA in-Memory Speicherplatzreduzierung

How to shrink your growing HANA Database: please meet Inspiricon HANA In-Memory Space Reduction

Businesses nowadays get tremendously bigger. Dealing with large amounts of data becomes a challenge for the Data Warehouse. According to Gartner’s survey regarding data center infrastructure trends and challenges, “Data growth is the largest data center hardware and infrastructure challenge for large enterprises”.

In order to face these challenges many organizations found their relief in in-memory data platforms such as SAP HANA with its hybrid structure for both processing transactional workloads and analytical workloads completely in-memory. With the new release of SAP HANA, SAP introduces a new concept of Multi-Temperature and Data Lifecycle Management storing data efficiently on different types of storage devices based on data temperature, as shown in figure 1. Taking this into consideration, data which is accessed frequently (hot data) is stored in-memory on HANA while warm data can be stored on Extended Storage Host (Dynamic Tiering). Cold data is moved on less expensive storage devices outside the HANA Database only for the read purpose, known as Near-Line Storage (NLS, read more here).

Figure 1. Multi-Temperature Data Classification

Multi-Temperature-Classification

Multi-Temperature-Classification

One of our customer’s project goals was to move some of less frequented data on disk that still could be accessed and don’t keep it in HANA in-memory. In search for a suitable solution for our customer, who was looking to optimize HANA memory consumption and with this reducing license costs as well as improving the system stability, we have analyzed and investigate a possible SAP solution:

  • Dynamic Tiering unfortunately doesn’t fit our customer scenario due to additional license costs as well as many features and functions which are underdeveloped yet and will only be available in future releases.

Our first research analysis was focused on developing the Inspiricon HANA In-Memory Space Reduction project where we have evaluated different approaches such as:

  • Migration of the existing data models to HANA optimized ones (LSA++).
  • Identifying and deleting outdated data/objects that are not required for reporting any more.
  • Defining with business and unloading historical data from HANA in-memory to HANA disk space.
  • HANA DB compression.

The above listed approaches exploit SAP HANA features, e.g. partitioning of AdvancedDSO. We have developed a methodology, based on Inspiricon best practices, which does not imply additional license costs and does not increase the TCO (Total Costs of Ownership).

As a result, we have introduced the Data Lifecycle Management (DLM), which covers defining data keeping needs through Business/IT and methods to apply for a certain data model depending on its complexity and Business/IT requirements.

Figure 2. Inspiricon Methodology for DLM

Inspiricon Methodology for DLM

Inspiricon Methodology for DLM

Our project was based on a detailed system analysis identifying the biggest data objects that would be possible candidates for minimizing HANA memory consumption.

Figure 3. DLM approaches to reduce memory consumption

DLM approaches to reduce memory consumption

DLM approach to reduce memory consumption

Remodeling

This solution helps to better organize the existing data model by either deleting data which is stored multiple times in different InfoProviders or eliminating BW objects in layers which become obsolete on HANA. As a consequence HANA in-memory is reduced.

Unload Application

This application was developed by Inspiricon in particular for this customer scenario. The main usage is focused on unloading certain objects’ tables from HANA in-memory to HANA disk space. Thus, HANA DB will automatically load them back to the memory, once data is accessed in any way.

Partitioning

This approach helps to decrease memory consumption by unloading just a number of predefined partitions excluding others, based typically on time characteristics like calendar year/ month or fiscal period. Partitioning is defined on BW and it is performed on the Database level and can be applied to the existing DSO (with restrictions) or to the AdvancedDSO depending on customer business requirements.

Summary

  • As a result, the Inspiricon HANA In-Memory Space Reduction Project saved 20% of our customer HANA memory consumption without additional license costs and resources.
  • The main deliverables were better loading performance and improvement of the system stability, smoother DW landscape – and with this decreasing considerably the annually SAP HANA memory licenses.
  • Our consultancy added value is to deliver the best solution that matches our customer needs, implying our know-how, effective consulting and partnership.

 

Author
Claudio Volk Member of the Management Board
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
Inspiricon strategische operative Vertriebsplanung

How to design and implement operative and strategic sales planning

Hello everybody,

in the last two articles on planning, we discussed theoretical basics. Today, we are going to analyze a specific example. We will show you how to design and implement operative and strategic sales planning by the example of one of our clients who is working in the area of engineering and construction.

Some figures to begin with: Our client is a company with approx. 7.500 employees in more than 130 countries worldwide and an annual turnover of 600 mio EUR.

The planning process until now

There was no standardized planning process but a “historical grown solution” with different processes and planning tools. There existed no synchronized planning process. To get the overall image, many excel sheets were manually used in order to consolidate the different planning processes. This applied both for strategic planning with a timescale of 5 years and for the monthly rolling sales forecast with a timescale of the coming 12 months.

Of course, there were consequences:

  • Planning inaccuracies were huge between what was planned and what actually happened.
  • Sales employees were not measured by the quality of their estimated planning.
  • This resulted in a manually very elaborate, error-prone planning process.
  • Based on imprecise planning numbers, production decisions were made.
  • Because of inaccuracies, the produced products could not be sold as planned.
  • This resulted in increased storage cost as well as high capital lockup.

Thus, a standardized planning process should be set up.

 There were several project steps – step 1

In step 1, strategic sales planning was addressed. This was called Mid Term Sales Planning (MTP-SP). It encompasses a timescale of 5 years.

After having drafted the functional and IT concept, the technical implementation could start. This took about half a year. In this context, the planning process for the strategic sales planning was standardized company-wide.

Now, each year between July and August the MTP-SP for the next 5 years takes place: All sales employees, market and account managers plan their sales numbers for the next 5 years. Sales volume and selling price are planned on main product group level per client, country and sales employee.
During the first planning year, all numbers have to be registered to the exact month. For the remaining 4 planning years, the registration is made yearly. That way, an overall view of sales planning for the next 5 years is gained after several planning iterations.

By means of a saved matrix, product information are derived from budget figures. As not all products are produced at all locations. Based on this planning, statements concerning capacity and decisions on capacity shifts, shortages or expansions can be made.

The implementation happened by means of SAP Business Warehouse and its planning solution BI-IP (BI-Integrated Planning). Implementation of step 1 took 6 months.

Step 2 – Conception and implementation of rolling sales forecast planning

The methodical approach was done analogous to step 1. The exact technical requirements were structured, standardized and written down in a technical concept.

The rolling sales forecast takes place monthly. The next 12 months are being looked at in detail. All sales employees are planning the planned sales volume exclusively worldwide. In contrast to step 1, this planning takes place a level lower, on product group level. All remaining planning characteristics are analogous to step 1. Based on these information, exact needs for sales perspectives can be derived. Taking into account current stocks, precise production numbers can be derived which are also important for draft and detail planning for the production. These numbers also play a role for other planning areas such as personnel, finance and profit and loss account.

By means of specific planning functions, which were implemented during the project, all users are supported at best through the system. For example, the figures in period 1 are updated automatically in period 2. This way, sales accountants only have to record changes in the following period. That was especially user-friendly and saved a lot of time for sales personnel as they only had to focus on changes to the previous month.

Step 1 and step 2 work together

Step 1 and step 2 were integrated as follows: data from MTP-SP were “passed on” to rolling sales forecast. Other planning functions facilitate the work for users. Some examples:

  • Entered annual figures can be broken down on months. Like this, monthly figures can be corrected after e.g. seasonal influences and then again aggregated on annual figures.
  • Sales budget figures which were planned on main product level can be broken down on product group level based on the last 24 months.
  • Distribution and sales vary a lot during the year in different regions. By means of global and local allocation formula, it can be dealt individually with different regions.
  • Different validity checks were integrated. Their goal is to improve automatically data quality. For example: it is checked if the entered forecast is as big or bigger as the order backlog in the system. If this is not the case, a warning will be sent.

In our next articles on planning, we will show and discuss some of these useful planning functions in detail.

After both steps were implemented and productive, one year of experience-gathering followed. Followed by an optimization phase in which experiences, suggestions and wishes from users were taken into account.

All project goals were reached:

  • The different planning elements interlock – this leads to an improved planning accuracy.
  • The whole planning process is structured. There is a planning calendar, too.
  • The manual effort to edit and verify the planning numbers could be reduced radically.
  • Effort reductions in the areas of data collection, data processing and data plausibility can now be used for more analytical work and thus for better information.
  • Both data quality and planning accuracy could be improved significantly. As a consequence, stock was reduced considerably and capital lockup diminished.

Our Inspiricon project team supported the client during the whole process – from the draft of the technical planning process, the design of the IT concept right to the whole realization with SAP BI-IP.

Questions? Suggestions? You want to discuss the topic? Contact us, we are looking forward to it.