Hybrid planning with SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) and SAP Analytics Cloud

By: Maarten Baatenburg de Jong, Senior Consultant CPMview

During the annual SAP Innovation Day for Partners, SAP presented the latest innovations, positioning of SAP products and the latest strategic roadmaps. In one of these sessions SAP introduced a fairly new proposition: hybrid planning with SAP BPC and SAP Analytics Cloud. Within CPMview we’re following the merging of these product functionalities and the opportunities this offers already for a while. That is why in this blog I’ll zoom into the power of SAP Analytics Cloud as an innovative extension of plans and reporting in SAP BPC.

Hybrid planning: what is it?

Hybrid planning has many similarities with ‘Integrated Business Planning’ (IBP). Both IBP and hybrid planning have a holistic focus on planning. It tackles a classic problem in which financial planning (balance sheet, profit and loss account, cash flow) and operational planning (production planning, HR & sales planning) are not ‘in sync’ with each other, because financial and operational planning are set up individually by different responsibilities.

Is hybrid planning just another name for IBP? This is only partly true: with the term hybrid, SAP does indeed indicate something new. Compared to IBP, the term hybrid emphasizes a number of specific, new characteristics. Where IBP issues are often aimed at finding a solution within a single solution or product, the term hybrid emphasizes the flexibility and the freedom of choice. The user is able to choose for each part of the planning which tool he or she wants to use. In addition, from a technical point of view, the hybrid character indicate where the actual planning has place: on-premise (software installation on your own pc) or in the cloud.

Hybrid planning: why?

Why does SAP offer this new proposition and which developments underlie this proposition? Many companies are using SAP BPC for years. SAP BPC is a proven product: it is extremely robust (mature) and it contains a strong core of functionalities with which it distinguishes itself from competition software.

At the same time, many innovations are taking place and companies that achieve processing data into art, have big competitive advantage. The real-time nature of processing a data stream requires a more dynamic planning and forecasting process. Instead of periodically updating planning and forecasts (monthly or quarterly), the requirements of organizations are increasingly shifting to planning and forecasting models that can be adjusted easily and on-the-fly, based on real-time data.

In response to these developments, SAP developed an innovative product: SAP Analytics Cloud. This product is unique in the market because it combines analysis, visualization, planning and predictive possibilities into one product. The strength of the product is that it aspires to ‘simplicity’. The business itself can acquire all parts of the tool and is not dependent on IT and/or needs in-depth BI or Predictive skills.

Hybrid planning is not an isolated product, but a unique proposition that combines the power of two tools (SAP BPC and SAP Analytics Cloud). It is a response from SAP to the organization’s need for ‘real-time’ analysis and planning together with traditional, robust financial planning. Because of the (near) real-time link between these two products, data between these two tools can easily be exchanged with each other without the intervention of IT. For a business user it does not matter where he plans (in SAP BPC or SAP Analytics Cloud), but by expanding SAP BPC with SAP Analytics Cloud there are now many more (innovative) functionalities added.

What are the benefits of integrating SAP BPC with SAP Analytics Cloud for my organization?

SAP Analytics Cloud enriches and simplifies the current planning in SAP BPC with its (innovative) BI / Planning / Predictive functionalities. SAP BPC in combination with SAP Analytics Cloud provides a complete real-time planning solution, covering all aspects of planning (from complex planning to simple business unit planning). With all the innovative functionalities of SAP Analytics Cloud, such as:

  • Web-based reporting and visualizations.
  • Web-based data input.
  • Predictive Analytics functions (predictive analyzes).
  • Simple data modeling (what-if scenarios, allocations).
  • Collaboration possibilities (workflow, online chats, comments).

How does that integration work?

In essence: after installation a one-time configuration of the SAP Analytics Cloud platform follows to make a connection with SAP BPC. SAP has fully optimized the connection between SAP BPC and SAP Analytics Cloud, so that a (near) real-time connection is possible. Features of this link:

  • You have direct access to the models in SAP BPC in SAP Analytics Cloud. You can easily import a model from SAP BPC.
  • When importing a model from SAP BPC you are free to import the data model including all master data (dimensions and properties attributes) and transaction data. The simplicity of the interface means that in principle every business user is able to do this, without IT intervention (from my own experience I dare say that linking two systems has never been so agile, intuitive and simple).
  • The business users can then plan based on the data and / or even enrich this data with other data (eg Open Data). Using all functionalities in SAP Analytics Cloud (see previous section).
  • With a simple ‘data-refresh’ button, business users can update the data to retrieve the most recent data from SAP BPC. After importing planning data into SAP Analytics Cloud, saving the data ensures that an update of the data is made available almost ‘real-time’ in SAP BPC. You have the option to immediately apply SAP BPC logic when data is saven. This option ensures that the same logic is applied, independent of the tool in which the planning is entered (SAP BPC or SAC).

Last but not least: Seeing is believing

In general, seeing is only believing. If you are interested in a demo at your organization, please contact us.