Project management

Project management – why the foundation should be laid before the project begins

Various recent studies show, that, still, a large number of IT projects fail or are only partly successfully finished. Most projects are completed far too late or the budget is exceeded severely. And when budget and time schedule are actually met, unwanted compromises are often made, which will very likely interfere with the businesses processes.

This seems odd, especially as a distinct project management has developed into a commonly recognized success factor for projects.

Therefore, we want to highlight different project management methods in our article as well as the essential factors and prerequisites that are necessary to successfully implement IT projects.

The benefits of using a project management is often underestimated in (small and medium-sized) companies!

Not all projects are the same

Every project has its own characteristics and special requirements. Projects should not be perceived as isolated endeavours, they are always embedded in a project environment and interact with it. Influences from this environment can have strong effects on the whole project.

Let us first take a closer look at the different types of project management.

Types of project management in the IT environment

1. “Traditional project management”

Traditional project management

Characteristic for this type of project management is a sequence of project phases divided in milestones in initiation, planning, monitoring, control and project completion. The network planning technique is usually used as a method for process planning. Dates, costs, use of resources and results are determined as far as possible at the beginning of the project. This planning-oriented method is mainly used for projects that have to be completed on a certain date. Changes to the plan are handled via change request.

2. Agile project management

Agile project management aims to make project implementation flexible to unpredictable changes in the environment and also in the scope of services. This is mainly done with the help of short planning and execution cycles called “sprints”. An exact specification of the product takes place only during the project. There are strict budget specifications. A characteristic of this approach is that the focus is mainly on the (partial) result and acceptance by the users. The management and control of agile projects and processes is very dynamic and flexible in order to quickly implement change requests from the user.

Agile project management

The best of both types

In practice, there is often a mix of traditional and agile approaches – better known as a hybrid project management approach. The traditional process model forms the organizational framework, whereby product development takes place according to agile principles.

But what is the best way to carry out your project?

Which methodology fit my projects best?

Method selection:

Whether agile or traditional – for each project, the appropriate method has to be found, depending on the respective conditions. With the right approach, a successful project will always be on time and in budget.

There is no ” template” for successful project management!

Here is the good news: project management is not based on fixed templates, there is no such thing as the one and only perfect project management each project, and it is also not bound to a certain size of the company or the project. Rather, project management can be flexibly adapted to the needs of the company and to the project structure. Usually, the best suiting project management concept is developed individually for each company and tailored in such a way that it fits the project and the objectives.

Is it worthwhile for your company to develop such a concept?

Investing in project management pays off in the long term!

Initially, project management means increased planning effort at the project’s run-up, which ultimately pays off at the end of the project through cost and time savings. This investment, at the beginning of the project, ensures a smoother course and offers quite a number of advantages:

  • Common understanding of all participants in regard to the project goal
  • Reduction of the project costs
  • Reduction of the required time
  • Improved adherence to deadlines, milestones, etc.
  • Early detection of plan deviations and initiation of countermeasures
  • Improved cooperation between team members / project participants
  • Achievement of objectives according to a schedule agreed upon

In order for projects not to be doomed to failure even before the start, and for the increased investment in planning and control also to pay off, it is desirable to have the project manager start working before the start of the project.

Getting the project manager (PM) on board early will benefit a project tremendously

Essentially, the PM is responsible for the successful planning, implementation and control as well as for the completion of a project. Furthermore, he guarantees a structured approach from the very beginning. Many discussions with PM colleagues showed that the greatest challenges during the management of the project are often similar in different projects and can often be traced back to a too late integration of the PM. It is therefore advisable – especially before the actual start of the project – to get the project manager on board early in order to progressively minimize the potential dangers of failure.

The PM can provide support on the following topics:

  • a clean clarification of the order, i.e. definition of the scope of the order/target
  • a good project setup
  • the definition of measurable goals and acceptance criteria
  • promoting a common understanding of the project

The main tasks of the PM

  • Clarification of the project objective and the assignment
  • Designing the Work Breakdown Structure
  • Estimating expenses
  • Creating the schedule
  • Coordination and control of project processes
  • Leadership and organization of the project members
  • Cost calculation
  • Risk assessment and budgeting
  • Planning, implementation and control
  • Takeover of project communication

A bad start of a project cannot only endanger the success of your IT project. Under certain circumstances – if the project budget is large – an unprofessional implementation of a project can also jeopardize the success of your company!

The optimal use of project management minimizes the risks that can disrupt a project. That way, opportunities can be exploited, project goals can be achieved qualitatively, and the success of the company can be ensured.

We will help you with our expertise in project management!

Our project managers possess the necessary methodical tools as well as know-how and experience from many successfully implemented projects for the execution of your project. At Inspiricon, both, practiced project management and leadership skills as well as proven and tested methods and tools are used in the project process.

Author
Thomas Dietl Project Manager
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de

Inspiricon keeps growing!

From 1st February 2018, you can also find uns in our new office in Freiburg, Schwarzwaldstraße 78b.

Close proximity to the market and our clients are of high importance for us – thus, we establish the new office in Freiburg.

Our consultants work not only with the classical SAP BI topics, but mainly with Big Data, Machine Learning and new SAP technologies.

We are looking forward to exciting new projects!

Inspiricon Office Freiburg

Author
Linda Schumacher Marketing
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
5 Essential Stages of a Successful Testing Strategy in SAP BI Implementations

5 Essential Stages of a Successful Testing Strategy in SAP BI Implementations

How important is testing in SAP BI anyway?

For those who are not yet aware, there are just 3 golden rules to ensuring the success of your SAP BI projects…

Testing, Testing, and more Testing!

Okay, seriously now, there are actually 5 essential stages of a successful test strategy in any SAP BI implementation. They can be summed up in these points:

  1. Unit Testing
  2. Functional Testing
  3. Data Migration and Integration Testing
  4. Performance Testing
  5. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) & Final Sign-Off

“If you think it´s too expensive to do thorough testing, see what it costs when you don’t do it!”

You can almost hear yourself asking, “So, what is all this testing going to cost?!”

Some customers tend to balk at the cost involved in the essential testing of a SAP BI implementation. They may reason that the “quality” should already be included – that is, if the BI Team has done a thorough job in developing all the reporting objects. They may reject allocating scarce budget to testing activities, in favor of realizing more developments before the Go-Live. They may be under pressure themselves to “get the most” out of the BI project team while they are still there – and all that should fit within the fixed project scope of time-budget-quality.

Despite these forces that seem to support reduced investment in testing, SAP BI project experience demonstrates exactly the opposite. Of course, there is significant additional effort that gets pushed forward in the project timeline when you decide to go for more thorough testing – however, in the end, the overall costs of the implementation are typically reduced.

Studies have shown that the ultimate cost of a software defect can rise exponentially, depending on what point in time it is discovered.

For example, there’s the 1:10:100 rule:
a defect that costs just €1 to fix in the design and initial programming phase, would potentially cost €10 to fix during the UAT, and a whopping €100 if found after the Go-Live!

Our extensive BI project experience has proven, time and again, that uncovering and fixing bugs during initial testing phases saves overall costs – the earlier you start testing and the more you invest in testing up front, the more you stand to save in the overall project costs, over the short and long run!

Some BI project managers estimate these potential savings at 2-3 times the cost! If that is not enough to convince your project stakeholders of the value of more testing, then there’s this: the pressure and effort directly before the Go-Live can be significantly reduced — not to mention many nerves being calmed among the Business users — as the focus on testing starts to bear fruit. It will then be recognized as the most worthwhile investment in quality.

To Test or Not to Test, That Is (Not) the Question

Now that we agree, testing is essential to any SAP BI project, the questions you still need to answer are what needs to be tested, when, how, and how much?

The basic rule of thumb is, the more you test, the lower your development costs overall.

Doing this testing in a highly structured manner provides additional benefits.
For example, effectively capturing and using the test results for immediate benefits improves the quality of the end product (your final BI reports) over each test cycle iteration and testing stage. This brings your BI project into a process of continuous improvement, which can then carry over to benefit your SAP BI system long after the initial implementation project has concluded.

What exactly does testing mean in SAP BI – what is involved?

Testing is a regular “Quality Check”, a chance to measure the quality of your implementation, at given points in the project timeline and across various aspects. All testing should be supported by tracking and documentation of both SAP BI test cases and defects in an appropriate testing tool. One commonly used testing tool is “HPQC” – HP ALM Quality Center, but of course many others are commercially available.

At Inspiricon, we recognize that each customer’s situation is unique. There is no “standard approach” that fits every scenario. However, there is an established framework that can be used to structure testing activities.
In our SAP BI projects, we focus our extensive experience and expertise from other projects to address your individual challenges, and we create a customized testing strategy and plan to ensure the highest quality for your SAP BI implementation and reduce costs overall.

The following testing activities are not intended to be an all-inclusive list, nor to represent a standard approach. They are simply examples of some of the most important Quality Checks that could be made within those 5 essential stages of testing in SAP BI:

1. Unit Testing:

Good unit testing is the basis for all that comes after it. This initial testing encompasses a solid check of the design work, followed by a step-by-step approach to documenting the data as it moves through the different layers of your BI architecture, in both persistent and non-persistent states. The more bugs that can be detected and (more easily) corrected at this point in testing, the more substantial the cost savings overall!

  • Tech Spec documentation and approval (this could include a description of report design and data flows in Word, a visual overview in PowerPoint, and an Excel with complete mappings for data model)
  • Business User meetings to approve report layouts and headers (in advance of test data availability)
  • IT Internal Testing by the BI developer, includes a thorough check of data at each stage in the data flow, and a direct comparison of source system data vs. SAP BW data vs. data in final BI report).

2. Functional Testing:

The key to effective functional testing is having resources on your team who understand not only the Business’ requirements and the processes in the ERP source system, but also the data model, data flows, and report design in SAP BI, and how these two worlds are “bridged” or united.

  • Quality Assurance (QA) testing, especially by internal BI project colleagues with expert knowledge of previous reporting system and underlying business processes.
  • Documentation of test cases in testing software, such as HPQC.
  • Pre-UAT (Pre-User Acceptance Testing) testing by Business, including defect fixes and retesting, all documented and tracked in testing tool, e.g. HPQC.
  • IT Internal Testing by BI Team, coordinated by lead developers, and documentation in a central status list or “catalog” of all BI reports.

3. Data Migration and Integration Testing:

Here is where the data migration and the smooth and seamless integration with the source system(s) are verified. Data flows, including InfoPackages, DTPs, transformations, and ultimately the process chains that automate the complete daily data load, must be coordinated and tested for completeness, accuracy, correct error-handling, and stability. And of course, all BI objects that are transported to the Productive system must be verified before the Go-Live!

  • Data migrations verified
  • Full versus Delta data loads verified
  • Daily and periodic process chains optimized and tested
  • Metachains configured and tested
  • Automated BW “housekeeping”/cleanup tasks activated and verified
  • Transported BI objects verified in Productive system before the Go-Live

4. Performance Testing:

Here is where the performance of the system architecture and system sizing gets a thorough check. Initial refresh times and acceptable levels of performance are determined by the Business’ expectations, usually based on the performance benchmarks of their previous reporting systems.

Automated performance testing, provided by 3rd party software such as LoadRunner, covering such aspects as:

  • Peak loads of concurrent users
  • Initial load times for report structure and prompts
  • Refresh times for reports with data
  • Maximum data volumes returned by report queries
  • Storage volumes for saved reports and schedules

5. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) & Final Sign-Off:

Here’s where it really gets interesting! The End Users, who are the intended “recipients” of our final product, finally have a chance to test their reports! They can verify the quality of the report results by performing test cases for data checks and plausibility checks. In addition, they can log any defects and enhancements in the testing tool, and retest any fixes. The End Users have the last say on when a report has received the final “sign off” by Business.

  • UAT Data Checks by Business, including another round of defect fixes and retesting.
  • UAT Plausibility Checks by Business, to compare original reports with migrated/replicated SAP BI reports in terms of purpose, available columns, approximate results. This can be useful, despite increasing differences between the two pools of data: “ongoing” live source system data versus the “snapshot” of originally migrated data plus accumulated UAT test data.
  • Post-UAT phase of continued testing and validation by broader groups of testers with a larger set of data, perhaps more migrated data and more accumulated test data.
  • Final Business “Sign-Off” via test case “Passes” in the testing tool, e.g. HPQC.

Again, these are just some examples of recommended steps in a comprehensive testing strategy for BI implementations, and are not intended to represent a standard approach. Every customer’s implementation project is unique, and should be addressed with a custom testing strategy and plan, tailored to meet the needs of that specific customer and their individual SAP BI scenario.

Quality First!

To sum it all up, a comprehensive testing strategy, supported with effective structuring, tracking, and documentation in the appropriate testing tool, is the best investment you can make to ensure a smooth Go-Live for your End Users, and a high-quality BI system going forward!

The more effort and investment made “up front” in testing, the fewer issues that will surface at your Go-Live – and the lower the overall cost of your SAP BI project!

If you would like help in setting up your testing strategy for SAP BI, give me a call or send me an e-Mail today!

Author
Andrea Taylor Senior Consultant SAP BI
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
Run Better Anywhere with SAP BusinessObjects Mobile

Run Better Anywhere with SAP BusinessObjects Mobile

Today’s business users expect their data, reports, and dashboards to be available everywhere, all the time. Not just when they are sitting at their desks, but also on mobile devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile and the SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform can support this request.

However, the way a user interacts with a mobile dashboard differs a lot from using a dashboard on a laptop or desktop computer — the smaller mobile screen means less space for visualizations, filters, buttons, and other components.

How to Deploy a WebI Report on SAP BusinessObjects Mobile App

In this article we will focus on deploying a WebI Report on SAP BusinessObjects Mobile App. This is the preferred option, as the app provides a secure and easy way to connect to the BI platform and run WebI reports, Design Studio applications, as well as other BI documents such as Crystal Reports, and SAP Lumira documents. The support for Lumira 2.0 is also important, that comes with the latest release of iOS SAP Business Objects Mobile 6.6.

iOS SAP Business Objects Mobile 6.6

Currently the iOS users have a bit more features and technical improvements compared to the Android version, but most aspects that would meet the business users’ needs are available for both.

Below you can see a WebI Report in desktop usage and at the end of this article we will have the same report on mobile as result (Fig 1.1):

BI Launchpad

Fig 1.1

Of course, developing a reliable and optimized mobile application requires a different approach than for example developing a dashboard for desktop usage. Still you can apply these steps for deploying on SAP BusinessObjects Mobile.

4 Steps to Your App

>> Note: To use this app, downloaders must be users of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform, with mobile services enabled by the IT department.

  1. Download SAP BusinessObjects Mobile app from Apple Store/Google Play
  2. Configure the connection within the app to your BO Server

Let’s assume that you have already installed the app on your phone. The next step is to configure the connection to your BO Server (Fig 1.2).

Create new connection

Fig 1.2

We will choose BOE Connection Type because our target is the BI Platform. For the CMS Name we log in into the Central Management Console – Servers – Server List and there we can find the Central Management Server with the Host Name (Fig 1.3).

Central Management Console

Fig 1.3

  1. Deploying the desired app/report from BO Launchpad

Next step is to log in into the BO Launchpad. Having admin authorization, we have access to a folder called “Categories” where we can see all applications and reports that are currently available on mobile (Fig 2.1).

BI Launchpad

Fig 2.1

We browse to our folders and we choose a report that we want to deploy, right click on it and select “Categories” (Fig 2.2).

BI Launchpad

Fig 2.2

A pop-up with “Corporate Categories” appears, which we can expand, select Mobile and save it (Fig 2.3).

BI Launchpad

Fig 2.3

  1. Accessing our mobile application, we can see the report that we have deployed (Fig 2.4).

Report deployed

Fig 2.4

What Is The Result Of These Steps?

A report that can be accessed everywhere and anytime from your mobile device, with the possibility to view it in a landscape mode, too (Fig 3).

Result

Fig 3

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile comes with a push notification feature that enables mobile users to receive notifications even when the user session is not active, or when the application is not running on the mobile. To enable this feature, you should make a few changes in settings, both at the server end and client end (Fig 4.1).

Push notification

Fig 4.1, Source: YouTube

Conclusion And Outlook

The ability to run smarter “anywhere” is about making informed decisions with instant access to targeted, personalized information wherever you are – in the board room, at a customer site, or on the shop floor, and analyze information without a need for additional training.

SAP BusinessObjects Mobile provides instant access to business intelligence (BI) reports, metrics, and right-time information. Surely, there are many aspects that need to be discussed regarding SAP BusinessObjects Mobile, as well as the right approach in developing Mobile Apps which we will talk about in an upcoming article.

Author
Cristian Moldovan Junior Consultant SAP BI
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: cluj@inspiricon.de
What is new in SAP BusinessObjects Information Design Tool 4.2

What Is New in the SAP BusinessObjects Information Design Tool 4.2?

This is the last article of our series about new features of SAP BusinessObjects 4.2! The following new features and enhancements are available in this release of the Information Design Tool:

Sets and Set Filters

The BI Sets support is the main enhancement in SAP BI 4.2 for the information design tool.

In the new version developers can create sets which are used as pre-defined complex query filters in Web Intelligence. A set is a structure that contains multiple lists of values for key enabled dimensions in the business layer and based on a universe (UNX). The sets can contain the definition of calendars, used for temporal sets, whose content evolves in time. Developers can publish themselves sets to the CMS repository and they are available as set filters when the associated universe is used as a data source in the query panel. Sets are stored in the data warehouse along with production data, enabling fast filtering.

BI sets are useful to query data using sets logic and operators rather than SQL.

Universes

Developers can now convert a single or a group of multiple .UNV universes to .UNX universes format in a single step. Linked .UNV universes can now also be converted to .UNX universes conserving links to all core universes. Developers can also choose to include all core universes in a single universe if preferred.

Now you can use the Big Numbers feature at the .UNX Universe level and avoid enablement per report. The Big Numbers are a new High Precision property to the existing Numeric Data Type, based on an IEEE decimal floating point format standard, which enables developers to define numeric objects that are expected to be consumed with a higher precision, from 15 digits to 40 digits.

Linked universes

The Information design tool can convert linked universes created with the Universe Design Tool. The conversion dialog box has been completely modified to convert several universes at once and propose new conversion options.

Now developers can link a universe to one or more core universes in the repository. When changes are made in the core universe, they are automatically propagated to the shared components in its linked universes. Using linked universes allow developers to take advantage of components in predefined and tested universes as a starting point to quickly build new universes.

The process for creating a linked universe has changed. A developer must start with a pre-existing universe and create a linked universe from it. Once created, the developer can add tables to the new universe which reads from the original universe. Changes to the original universe are automatically reflected in the new linked universe. Both the data foundation and business layer from the original universe are available in the linked one.

SQL Enhancement

The new SQL parameter NO_NULL_YIELDS_IN_SUBQUERY has been added to the SQL Generation Parameters list. When set to YES, SQL scripts are generated ensuring fields with non NULL values are included for filters based on a subquery. The default value is NO.

Setting Summary tab preferences for data foundation views

For data foundations with multiple views, you can now choose to open a specific view in the editor instead of the default master view. This can help to save time when developers want to work on a subset of the data foundation, and do not need to display the entire content of the Master View. A new Summary tab is available that lists views with a color code that gives an indication of the loading time onto the screen. Based on this information, developers can select a view that will display more quickly rather than the master view which displays all of the available views.

Creating a business layer directly on a BEx Query

Developers can create a business layer directly on a BEx Query using BICS access and publish the business layer as a universe available to Web Intelligence. Creating a universe based on a BEx query has a major advantage over using direct access to a BEx query as developers can organize and customize the query dimensions, measures, and hierarchies in the business layer. Although developers can edit certain components of the business layer, the data foundation is built automatically on the query and is read only.

If you want to know how to create a universe, go to our blog article about it! We explain it step by step.

This article provided an overview of the features and enhancements that have been added to the SAP BusinessObjects since the previous release. It directs you to the available product documentation to get you started using the new features!

Author
Veronika Aleksandrova SAP BI Consultant
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de

 

New Features in WebI 4.2

New Features in SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2

This week, we continue our mini-series about BI 4.2. Today’s topic is SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2 and its new features. Let’s start!

I will now give you an overview on new functions.

SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2 includes the following next main features: Sharing of Elements, Refresh queries in parallel, Commentary, Geo Mapping and Visual Extensions, Direct Access to HANA Views and SAP HANA Online.

Sharing of Elements

Shared elements are report parts that are stored in the CMS repository, and can be reused multiple times by other users or for other documents. Developers got the option to publish the report elements to a central located platform public folder. Shared element contains all required meta data: report part, corresponding data source, data providers, variables and formatting. Now user can quickly import frequently utilized logos, charts and visualizations into their reports.

Refresh Queries in parallel

The parallel data provider refresh feature now supports BEx queries, and new settings have been added in the Central Management Console and the information design tool to let you fine-tune parallel queries at a connection level. As a result, you can manage the maximum number of queries refreshed in parallel per document for OLAP, BEx or relational connections. You can also decide whether you want to enable parallel query processing during scheduling operations.

Commentary

BI Commentary is currently available for Web Intelligence application. Now, users working with Web Intelligence in reports can use BI Commentary for collaboration.

Geo Maps and Visual Extensions

Good looking and insightful dashboards can be created, using ESRI maps or google maps. Any map that has an URL can be now used to cross geospatial information and our own data. Maps in Web Intelligence are no longer reserved for the mobile application. Now developers can create or view them in Web Intelligence desktop, browser or mobile. The feature also includes a geo encoder engine. This engine allows developers to geocode any city, state, country dimension within their existing dataset.

Direct Access to SAP HANA Views

Now developers can directly access a SAP HANA information view without the need to first create a universe. In addition the can create queries on HANA views and benefit from the speed and power of HANA.

SAP HANA Online

With SAP HANA Online mode, create Web Intelligence documents with live data leveraging the power of HANA. In SAP HANA Online mode, all Web Intelligence calculations such as value aggregation and member filtering are delegated to HANA. This enables quicker interactions between Web Intelligence and HANA, providing better performance for data refresh. This feature mainly targets business analysts who need to analyze and explore huge quantities of data on HANA. They can now work with real-time data and enjoy better interactions with Web Intelligence. Report designers will also benefit from SAP HANA Online mode user experience that makes documents creation easier than before. Report designers can now bypass query panels and universes.

Please contact me for further questions, I will be happy to answer them!

Author
Veronika Aleksandrova SAP BI Consultant
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
What is new in SAP BO BI 4.2

What’s New in SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2?

Today, I would like to start a mini-series about what is new in SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2. The first article of this series is about new features of the general platform.

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.2 is the culmination of core stability and capability improvements spanning key new innovations, incremental product advances from BI 4.1 and improved features for upgrading all existing XI R2 and XI3 customers to this newest version of the SAP BI Suite.

With the release of SAP BusinessObjects 4.2 (SP2 – SP4), SAP has introduced a treasure trove of new enhancements. It contains a proverbial wish list of enhancements that have been desired for years.

Much to my delight, SAP Web Intelligence has received several significant enhancements. Particularly in terms of its integration with SAP HANA. However, there were also enhancements to the platform itself. Let’s take a more detailed look at the top-list of new features.

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform 4.2 includes:

Recycle Bin in CMC

When users delete an item from the BOE system, it’s now moved into the “Recycle Bin” and an administrator can recover the files. Items will be stored there only until the bin is emptied, which may have a time-limit or happen on set days – at which time the files are permanently deleted.

BI Commentary Service

A new CMC application that allows document users to collaborate, to comment on any of the data/statistics accessible in a given document.

Restful Web Services APIs for Publication

A whole raft of nifty new tools allow the management of:

  • Users and User groups;
  • Publications, files and scheduling;
  • Queries, Server and Jobs statistics;
  • Content and Application usage, and more.

BI Administrators’ Cockpit

Another new CMC application. Administrators can collect basic data about the BI environment. Developers can also obtain information about Servers, Scheduled Jobs, Applications and Content Usage.

Selectively retrieve objects from an LCMBIAR file

Now developers can selectively import objects contained in an LCMBIAR file within the promotion management web application. Selectively retrieve objects from an LCMBIAR file. This requires that the user has the introduction of ‘Edit LCMBIAR’ right. When developers selectively retrieve objects from an LCMBIAR file, a new job with the selected objects is created.

Split Installer

Using the installation command line, administrators can now prepare the system for installation without down-time. It does this by performing all of the binary caching and some of the SQL lite installation database operations before it invokes the section of the install that require down time.

Running setup.exe – cache will invoke the caching portions of the install. When ready to complete the install, running setup.exe – resume_after_cache will complete the insulation. In theory, the later portion of the installation step reduces the down-time by eliminating the dependency between the two major installation and upgrade tasks.

In a large clustered environment, this is a great addition. In all types of environments this is a great enhancement. Previously, the system down-time was subjected to the long and tedious process of caching deployment units.

New License Keys

After upgrade to 4.2 SP2, administrators will need to obtain a new license keys. The keys that once worked for 4.0 and 4.1 will not work after upgrading to 4.2 SP2. The graphical installer will also let administrator know this. Need be prepared to logon to service market place and request new keys.

In the next article, I will give you an overview on the changes of SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence 4.2 – stay tuned!

Author
Veronika Aleksandrova SAP BI Consultant
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
Cognos Migration SAP BW on HANA

How to leverage a standardized SAP solution to harmonize processes across the enterprise and ensure comparability

Hey there:

Today we would like to share with you yet another successful project in our portfolio. For this project, we were tasked with migrating an existing Cognos reporting solution from SAP BW on HANA with SAP BusinessObjects as the frontend.

The customer that sought our support specializes in the manufacturing and distribution of electronic components. As part of an international group, it is one of several subsidiaries, all of which rely on different ERP and business intelligence solutions. Faced with the group’s continued growth and the ever-increasing complexity that goes along with it, the proprietary ERP solution was reaching its limits both in terms of functionality and reporting capabilities.

THE PROJECT

Working from a newly introduced and standardized SAP ERP solution with SAP BW, Inspiricon was able to replace the existing Cognos reporting solution.

There were a number of reasons that motivated this decision:

  • For one, it would have been too costly and time consuming to keep developing the reporting solutions that, for the most part, had been developed in house and customized to specific needs.
  • Also, maintenance and support had become almost unmanageable.
  • What’s more, the group was no longer able to maintain the consistency of KPI purpose and content across its different companies, resulting in the inability to compare their processes and results.
  • The sheer number of different interfaces with other systems drove costs and significantly increased the error rate. Reporting to the parent company, in particular, had become a tedious and time-consuming endeavor. Even more interfaces were needed to do so because reporting was tailored exclusively to customers based on a – custom – Cognos reporting solution that had been implemented on top of everything else.
  • Internal expertise regarding the existing solutions was limited to a small number of people inside the company. Loosing this technical knowledge due to employee turnover was an ever-present threat.

THE SOLUTION

Since another subsidiary was already using SAP products, the new ERP solution was already present on the system.

The project, however, was not just about bringing the ERP system up to speed, the group was also eager to take its BI system to the next level. And it wanted it to be a SAP solution, prompting the decision to replace the existing Cognos reporting solution with SAP Business Warehouse on HANA.

The project was launched with release SAP 7.4 on HANA. During the project, a migration to SAP 7.5 on HANA was carried out. In this case too, SAP BW was already being used by another subsidiary and was therefore readily available.

Products in the SAP BusinessObjects family were to be used for the frontend as well. These adjustments were intended to bring about following changes and benefits:

  • Standardized data models that can be leveraged by every company in the group, allowing its globally dispersed service centers to provide cost-optimized support.
  • Consistent KPIs that guarantee comparability.
  • A smooth transition for users of the Cognos solution by means of a like-to-like migration.
  • Elimination of unnecessary interfaces.
  • Improved and accelerated flow of information along the value chain.
  • Increased responsiveness for better corporate management, which also improves competitiveness.

Our solution consists of Web Intelligence reports based on SAP BW on HANA along with standardized data provisioning from the operational SAP ERP system. The following illustration outlines the project’s structure:

Illustration Project Structure

By replacing its existing ERP and BI systems, our customer was able to improve its business. Not only can users now access reports and data much faster, substantially reducing time to decision, but they can also, to a certain degree, customize their reports in the context of a self-service BI. Another big plus is a significantly improved security posture due to centrally managed access authorizations. Last but not least, we were able to reduce license costs and therefore improve cost-effectiveness for the customer.

The introduction and standardization of SAP ERP and BI solutions typically require significant investments. By having our employees from our nearshoring location in Cluj-Napoca in Romania contribute to the project, we were able to drastically cut these costs. At the peak of the project, up to 6 colleagues from Cluj-Napoca were involved in the project. We coordinated through daily briefings during which our team communicated remotely both through video and audio.

Author
Claudio Volk Member of the Management Board
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

Big data and artificial intelligence – a powerful duo that will shape our future

SAP makes artificial intelligence a reality

Using intelligent machines to analyze big data is no longer just wishful thinking. SAP has turned yesterday’s dreams into today’s reality. Based on SAP HANA, SAP has breathed life into multiple software components capable of thinking autonomously and analyzing vast amounts of data. As you are reading this, its software is recognizing faces and objects and carrying out large-scale analyses that would neither be possible nor conceivable if done manually.

With SAP, artificial intelligence (AI) has made the leap from vision to reality.

SAP Clea and SAP Leonardo: artificial intelligence is gaining momentum

SAP has added a new version to its HANA platform. Along with it, a number of AI and IoT (Internet of Things) services were introduced to the market.
SAP’s new SAP Clea software runs in the SAP cloud and is capable of autonomous learning without requiring any explicit programming. Its analytical intelligence is already being leveraged by companies like Munich Re and the European Space Agency. The insurance giant Munich Re is constantly calculating the risk associated with forest fires using data on vegetation lines. These calculations are supported by intelligent software and their capability for large-scale big data analytics.

SAP Leonardo is the name of SAP’s IoT solution portfolio. Just like its namesake Leonardo da Vinci, SAP Leonardo takes a broad and interdisciplinary approach – a fundamental requirement for the Internet of Things. Information from across the company is taken into consideration, paving the way for the development of novel solutions and business models.

SAP Leonardo is designed to assist potential customers in crafting an IoT strategy and in identifying the solutions that will best meet their specific needs.

Because one thing is for certain: There is no such thing as the one piece of software for IoT and AI. It usually takes a combination of multiple applications.

The digital core: The S/4HANA SAP Enterprise Suite

S/4HANA is already being leveraged by 4,000 companies in 25 countries. It forms the digital core for the transformation and can be used for IoT and AI/machine learning applications. SAP has introduced several additions in the cloud, such as Connected Logistics, Connected Vehicles, Connected Manufacturing, Connected Assets, Connected Retail, and Future Cities. These allow companies to, for example, manage their fleets, control quality levels, and calculate routes.

In the field of artificial intelligence and machine learning services, SAP offers a range of services on the SAP Cloud Platform:

  • Resume Matching to streamline recruiting
  • Cash Application to analyze payment behavior
  • Social Media Customer Service
  • Brand Intelligence
  • Fraud Detection for insurers and banks

SAP Fiori – the new SAP UI

SAP Fiori is an initiative that aims to enhance usability (for more information, please refer to our website and our blog). With Fiori 2.0, SAP wants to harmonize the user experience for all SAP applications and has included a number of improvements in its visual design and usability.

This is yet another area where AI is leveraged. The user is assisted by a co-pilot that anticipates user actions and prepares them accordingly. Its built-in voice control, for example, streamlines maintenance and warehouse workflows. Artificial intelligence is used to analyze suppliers and categorize them according to a predefined requirements profile.

Inspired: straightforward big data analytics

The combination of artificial intelligence and big data supported by SAP Fiori makes for more effective automation and analysis. The software tries to foresee what actions the user wants to take, enhancing effectiveness and boosting speed. SAP Fiori enables companies to conduct large-scale analyses of big data and to automatically monitor important business metrics. Anomalies, trends, and patterns are automatically communicated to the responsible staff in an interface that puts the user first. The available data is analyzed in a central user interface that allows for intuitive operation. There is no longer a need for complex modifications of input and output parameters.

Artificial intelligence ensures that the algorithms deliver meaningful results without requiring input from the business departments.

The main objective of machine learning is to identify data patterns and relationships and to apply them to new sets of data. The underlying algorithms are based on statistics, the calculation of probabilities, and algebra. With SAP Application Intelligence, data is the fuel that powers machine learning.

Deep learning: where machines outperform humans

One discipline of machine learning is known as deep learning: Here, neural networks are flooded with vast amounts of data. The intention is to enable the software to recognize faces, classify objects, and understand language. Capabilities that are constantly being refined and increasingly used in robotics applications.

This also opens up new medical applications:
Soon, the data of individual cancer patients will be compared to millions of medical records to enable the customization of healthcare through precision medicine. Artificial intelligence works for the broad mass and delivers very promising results. The software is increasingly becoming an all-rounder that can be leveraged across the board. SAP Application Intelligence is capable of unearthing relationships that would otherwise stay hidden from the human eye. Working under time constraints, human employees often overlook crucial data that then remains undiscovered in day-to-day business.

Conclusion

Artificial intelligence has already found its way into business intelligence solutions, where it is used to control data analytics, for example in order to detect anomalies or automatically structure and interpret data. On top of that, AI algorithms are also used to monitor data streams.

The intelligent and integrative interaction between new SAP components such as Clea, Leonardo, or Fiori on the basis of SAP HANA Cloud and on-premises solutions are continuously inspiring Inspiricon to search for innovative services for our customers.

You are curious to learn more and explore new potential business? Do not hesitate to contact us now!

Author
Claudio Volk Member of the Management Board
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de
Enhancements in ABAP

ABAP enhancements – this is what’s new in NetWeaver 7.40

Easier, more direct, more intuitive

Hello everybody:

Today, we are going to get very technical yet again by taking a closer look at what’s new in ABAP. It’s not just SAP’s applications and tools that are evolving. SAP has also never stopped working on its very own programming language.

Over the coming weeks and months, we will provide you with regular insights into the language, the new tools, testing capabilities, and most importantly the applications in the field of SAP BW and HANA.

Today, we will start with a number of enhancements that ABAP has seen over the past years. Because these changes depend on the system version you are working with, there is a chance that they may still be very new to some of you, while others have been familiar with them for years. And then there may be those of you who to whom they are not even available yet.

A look back at NetWeaver 7.40

The release of NetWeaver 7.40 brought with it some really interesting news and changes in ABAP that have real potential to impact a developer’s day-to-day work. SAP’s own Horst Keller has published an excellent article on this. You can find it here.

ABAP 7.40 has been around since 2013. Since then, we have seen a number of adjustments in the form of different support packages. And even though it’s already 2017, it’s still “news” for many of our customers or “only now” becoming available because the language is tied to the NetWeaver release they are working with.

By now, we’ve had the pleasure of working with this version and the one after that (ABAP 7.5 is also available) for some of our customers ourselves. Unsurprisingly, there may be developers that have to bring themselves to embracing these new topics because that is not what they are used to and they are sure that there is more than one road to Rome.

Two specific examples of what’s new in ABAP

But let’s dive deeper. Here are some examples of how working with ABAP has changed:

To me, one of the most convenient changes is the INLINE DECLARATION. As with a number of other languages, this type of syntax allows you to declare the required data elements directly in the command.

Here’s one example:

This is what this looked like before 7.4:

Data: WA type line_of_itab.

Loop at itab into wa.

Endloop.

 

With 7.4:

Loop at itab into DATA(WA).

endloop

This not only saves you one line of source code, best of all it also means that implicit typing is taking place. Incidentally, this type of declaration also works for field symbols and other objects.

The “value” operator is yet another example of a useful adjustment SAP has made:

Before 7.4:

DATA itab TYPE t_itab.

DATA wa LIKE LINE OF itab.

 

wa-col1 = 1.

wa-col2 = 2.

APPEND wa TO itab.

wa-col1 = 3.

wa-col2 = 4.

APPEND wa TO itab.

 

meth( itab ).

 

With 7.5:

DATA(itab) = VALUE t_itab(

( col1 = 1 col2 = 2 )

( col1 = 3 col2 = 4 ) ).

meth( VALUE t_itab(

( col1 = 1 col2 = 2 )

( col1 = 3 col2 = 4 ) ) ).

This is yet another change that helps eliminate unnecessary lines and commands and, in my opinion, makes the source code much easier on the eyes.

ABAP makes a lot of things easier

Another example of simplification is the implementation of LHS = RHS, which means that commands such as “Move A to B” are now obsolete. All you need to do now is state that B = A and you’re done. The main advantage of this is that you can also concatenate these assignments and use them in function calls or method calls.

Other changes are notable in that they make the code much easier to read:

result = class=>do_something(EXPORTING p1 = … p2 = … IMPORTING p3 = … p4 = … CHANGING p5 = … p6 = … ).

With this, it feels like ABAP is moving closer to JAVA and other languages that allow us to use more complex parameters when passing method calls in-line. With 7.4, this now also works for exporting parameters and changing parameters (this was previously only possible with importing parameters).

Three new commands for transformations

There are three new commands that I personally like to mainly use in transformations:

DATA(lin) = lines( itab).

DATA(idx) = line_index( itab[ … ] ).

IF line_exists( itab[ … ] ).

ENDIF.

These commands make checking tables a lot easier. They return the number of lines, the index of a condition, and the check results. You can then go on to directly use all of these values. Before 7.4, you had to start by executing READ commands to determine these checks and there was no way to concatenate these commands. This forced many developers to use auxiliary variables and other such concoctions which did little to make the code easier to read.

Are you interested in ABAP or looking for an expert in the field? I would love to hear you questions or comments.

Yours,

Jörg

Author
Jörg Waldenmayer Lead Consultant
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de