SAP BusinessObjects

SAP BusinessObjects – choosing the right client tool

Are you also wondering which BusinessObjects tool best suits your needs? This post wants to provide you with a brief overview of the subject and give you some tips to put you on the right path.

The range of SAP BusinessObjects front-end products

Over the past years, SAP has significantly simplified its range of BusinessObjects front-end tools, as the following chart illustrates:

Image 1: The range of SAP BusinessObjects front-end products

Today, it has become much easier to select the right tool. First of all, you can choose from three categories:

  1. Data Discovery & Applications
  2.  Office Integration
  3.  Reporting

The main difference between these is their degree of interactivity, standardization, and visualization.

The one thing that connects all three categories is their interoperability, meaning that the content you create can be reused within any of the individual tools. This includes:

  • The ability to add additional scripts to your Lumira 2.0 Discovery files (formerly Lumira 1.x) in Lumira 2.0 Designer (formerly Design Studio 1.x).
  • Or, vice versa, the ability to use Designer applications in Discovery, for example to create story boards.
  • Calling parameterized Crystal Reports or Web Intelligence reports from within the respective tools is still possible and is an option that remains widely used.
  • And much more.

But nevertheless, business users and management are asking themselves which front-end tool is best suited to perform their evaluations and analyses.

There are two main situations where you need to answer the question about which tool is right for you:

  1. If your current front-end production tools are no longer able to meet certain new requirements, forcing you to take a closer look at the remaining SAP BusinessObjects tools.
  2. If your company is planning to introduce SAP BusinessObjects for the first time.

Failing to select the appropriate tools is not only likely to negatively impact end user acceptance, it will usually also lead to longer implementation times. This makes choosing the right tool all the more important.

Selection stages

Ideally, the selection process has multiple stages. We have put together the following chart to illustrate them:

inspiricon-tool-selection-stages

Image 2: Tool selection stages

In a nutshell: Start by determining who will actually be using the reports/applications. Managers usually have widely different expectations regarding content and visualization than, for example, business analysts and are often more interested in aggregated, static and visually more sophisticated data. What’s more, managers have less time to spend on analyzing the data in detail and want to automatically receive precalculated reports with report summaries.

The next step involves defining the different use cases that basically reflect the different requirements placed on the tools. The last stage is all about assessing and monitoring the tools once they have gone live.

Selection methods

The above-mentioned requirements are collected, allowing you to then transfer them to a decision tree. Your decision tree could look something like this:

decision-tree-tool-selection

Image 3: Decision tree for your tool selection

This approach is best suited for a small number of clearly distinguishable requirements – and a small number of end users. If, however, you have a much larger number of users and with them more and more diverse user requirements, a more efficient approach would be to conduct a standardized user survey (interviews) and derive your requirements catalog from their answers. Here’s how that could look like:

  • Reports and analyses need to be available in the browser or in Microsoft Office
  • Users need to be able to create / add ad-hoc calculations
  • Users need to be able to work with hierarchies
  • Users need to be able to work with standard SAP BEx query structures
  • Reports and analyses need to be available online and offline
  • Users need to be able to send reports and analyses by email
  • Users need to be able to filter the data
  • Users need to be able to create their own reports or adapt existing reports
  • Users need to be able to navigate within reports
  • Users need to be provided with drill-down capabilities
  • Reports and analyses need to be highly formatted
  • The information in the reports needs to be highly aggregated
  • Reports and analyses need to meet demanding visual standards
  • and so on

After you have thoroughly gathered all relevant requirements you can then move on to comparing these to the functionality offered by the different SAP BusinessObjects tools. Mark any requirements the tool is able to meet in green and those it fails to meet in red.

The following illustrates this approach on the example of Crystal Reports:

  • Reports and analyses need to be available in the browser or in Microsoft Office
  • Users need to be able to create / add ad-hoc calculations
  • Users need to be able to work with hierarchies
  • Users need to be able to work with standard BEx query structures
  • Reports and analyses need to be available online and offline
  • Users need to be able to send reports and analyses by email
  • Users need to be able to filter the data
  • Users need to be able to create their own reports or adapt existing reports
  • Users need to be able to navigate within reports
  • Users need to be provided with drill-down capabilities
  • Reports and analyses need to be highly formatted
  • The information in the reports needs to be highly aggregated
  • Reports and analyses need to meet demanding visual standards

Once you have measured your requirements against each of the tools you can identify the tool with the most requirements marked in green.

This type of requirements catalog allows you to add more complexity and drill down even deeper, for example to the department or user group level, giving you a very exact breakdown of which tool is best suited for which target group within the company.

You can also translate this approach into a feature matrix (e.g. in MS Excel) to allow for a more comprehensive use. This will initially require more time and effort but used frequently will provide you with a standardized and effective means to accurately pick the tool that satisfies the most requirements.

Conclusion

Regardless of the selection method you choose, you will hardly ever achieve 100 % requirements coverage – there simply is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. It can, however, be rather beneficial to have a strong mix of different SAP BusinessObjects tools as this will enable you to fully exploit the individual strengths of the different tools.

But keep in mind that the methods presented here are examples intended to give you impetus and represent more of a rough approach. When looked at in detail, a thorough analysis and comparison of your specific requirements can make a large contribution towards choosing the right tool.

If you’re interested in exploring the subject further or need a customized analysis, then don’t hesitate to contact us. We will be happy to assist you.

Author
Artur Witzke Senior Consultant
Phone: +49 (0) 7031 714 660 0
Email: info@inspiricon.de