Does this sound like your company? You standardized on SAP years ago, but there's no funding for a full-blown Business Intelligence and Analytics application. Every week some higher-up calls you (the SAP expert) to give him or her an update on sales figures or margin numbers, and you've gotten some notoriety as the person who can write "SAP Reports" to show forecasts and budget information anytime. Now instead of watching Iron Chef America on Sunday nights, you're sitting at your dining room table running SAP query extracts and dumping the data into Excel so you can massage it with MS Access and email it to all the directors. You’re dreading the calls that are going to start coming in once word gets out that you’re the SAP expert.
Believe it or not this isn't too far from reality. A lot of very sophisticated organizations have business critical information stored in SAP but use the most arcane methods to make sense from it. There's a false perception out there that reporting off of SAP requires a massive investment in hardware, software and services. But the fact is that SAP is just another data source and if you know some of the basics of BI, you can easily create an elegant solution that allows you to analyze the SAP data you’ve collected to suit your needs.
You have options. You can try to get approval for a multi-million dollar SAP BI project and justify the fact that it’s not going to go live for at least a year. Try that and tell me how it goes! (Don't get me wrong – SAP has some great products and in fact, they're one of arcplan's partners. But there's no denying that some of their products are cumbersome and inflexible, and many of arcplan's customers have chosen us because of our SAP integration to improve their reporting).
Or you can accept the fact that funding is scarce, time is critical, and there are other fixes for your SAP reporting problem. Analyze the type of information your constituents are asking for and make a list of all the data points you must have at hand to meet their need. Then create a simple reporting database that will meet 80% of their needs. I'd say 80% of a loaf is better than none.
Now dissect the steps you take to get the higher up's one-off reports and come up with a way to automate each step. Finally, put in place software that can pull these steps off with the least amount of coding. By stepping out of your comfort zone and utilizing the a-typical features of the products available, you too can have all the SAP reporting your boss demands.
Finally, you could do this right now with arcplan simply and affordably – and in just a few weeks. Hundreds of arcplan customers combine SAP data into their reports every day. arcplan allows you to connect to multiple data sources including SAP, trigger their stored procedures, write-back to the databases, and take advantage of automated batch execution to create robust reports, charts and dashboards. What’s even more compelling is that you won’t have to put in a request for a multi-year project because your SAP reports can be in production in weeks, not months or years.
SAP reporting doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to have the right software in place.
What do you think? How are you getting around some of SAP’s inflexibility when it comes to reporting?
One last question - will you be at SAPPHIRE NOW, May 15-18 in Orlando? We will! If you're interested in meeting with us, email us and we'll schedule a quick get-together.