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Embedded Analytics in S/4HANA (with demo videos)

Embedded Analytics in S/4HANA (with demo videos)

In previous blogs I have touched upon the embedded analytics functionalities in S/4HANA 1610. In fact in some specific topics I have shown you what you can achieve with HANA Live or tools like Analysis for Office. Specifically in the Attributed Profitability Segments blog I did show some reporting possibilities in S/4HANA. In this blog I aim to give a good overview of the purpose and added value of embedded analytics in S/4HANA. After the overview I will post demo videos per analytical tool at the end of this blog.

In most of the ERP implementations I see that the reporting requirements and workshops are done at the end of the project. It’s like saving the best for last, but in reality business processes cannot be separated from analytics. At least when we talk about operational reporting. Other major issues I see are system design and configuration which at the end does not match the reporting requirements. The system is not designed and configured with the desired output (reports) in mind and you will only find this out during the analytics/reporting workshop which are planned at the end of the project.

With the rich analytics content which comes out of the box with S/4HANA this can be improved significantly when it comes to operational reporting. Reports and dashboard do make more sense for users when it’s visualized in a user friendly interface like Fiori. With embedded analytics in S/4HANA SAP makes a huge step forwards in the integration of the transactional and analytical world.

3 principles of Analytics in S/4HANA

  1. Consistent user experience across all analytical use cases
  2. Seamless integration to other SAP Analytical offerings
  3. Implementation of embedded analytics a seamless integration of analytical components on the UI

Consistent user experience across all analytical use cases

To explain this principles further. With consistent user experience we main to say that even applications with different use cases should work the same way for e.g. filtering, printing, data export, role based access etc.

Seamless integration to other SAP Analytical offerings

Below you will see a simple representation of the embedded analytics architecture in S/4HANA. In the top layer you see the SAP Analytical offerings which are seamlessly integrated to the business suite. This means that there is no data load or ETL processes. Data can be consumed in real time in of the mentioned SAP analytical tools. As mentioned before, in this blog I will give examples of both out of the box reporting possibilities (Smart Business, Fiori etc.) and tools from the SAP BO suite (Lumira, Excel).

S4HANA Embedded Analytics

Implementation of embedded analytics a seamless integration of analytical components on the UI

With the implementation of embedded analytics we mean “really” embedded into the transactional work and the daily processes. Today most often transactions and analytics are handled separately, but in reality business processes are a sequence of transactions, analytics, transactions etc.

S4HANA Embedded Analytics cycle

S/4HANA Real Time Analytics Architecture

As you can see in the picture below in the architecture everything starts with the physical tables in the database. These are the old fashioned tables like VBRK, VBAP, EKPO, EKKO etc.

On top of that there are Virtual Data Models (VDM’s) built in the Application layer. SAP deploys standard VDM’s out of the box, these can be enriched by customer built specific views. SAP blends transactions and analytics allowing operational reporting on live data. In S/4HANA this concept is supported with Core Data Services (CDS) for real time operational reporting. The content is represented as VDM’s which is based on transactional and master data tables in S/4HANA.

The development of custom views is more often a technical task for developers. However in the application layer there is room for Power/Key users to create own Queries and KPI’s. This is done with the help of the KPI Modeller framework and Self-Service Query Designer.

At the top we see the different user interfaces which can consume the VDM’s. the user interface communicates with the application layer through oData Services. The most obvious and out of the box available user interface is Fiori. Next to that we have the other SAP Analytical offerings in the Business Objects suite (Lumira, Excel, Design Studio, etc.). Even 3rd party user interfaces can consume the virtual data models from the SAP application server.

S4HANA Embedded Analytics Architecture

Difference between HANA Live Views and CDS Views

Perhaps some of you have already hands-on experience with HANA live views in the world of Suite on HANA or Simple Finance. I have worked with Live views a lot. In S/4HANA HANA Live Views are still supported, but CDS views are the way forward. There will be no investment in live views from SAP in S/4HANA and everything is built around CDS views. Let me try to explain some differences between these two and let me try to point out the advantages of CDS views. Because HANA Live Views have a couple of major disadvantages.

First of all CDS views are in the application layer while HANA Live views are in the Database layer. What does this mean? Because CDS views are in the application layer we have the following advantages in contrast to HANA Live views:

  • Full ABAP lifecycle integration
  • Part of the General Extensibility concept
  • Supporting ERP Authorizations
  • Supporting ERP Hierarchies

Especially the last two are huge benefits. Authorizations and hierarchies are a pain in the neck in HANA Live. I learned this the hard way.CDS view architecture

Embedded Analytics offerings per type of user

In the below overview you can see the analytical tools available for the type of users. Like in the architecture picture, we start at the bottom where we have the CDS views which are built on top of the database tables.

Let’s read this bottom up:

Embedded Analytics Tools

Available Analytical Apps by Release

Some additional information about the availability of analytical apps per release and module.

Demo per analytical tooling

Now let’s have a look at examples per analytical tooling. I have recorded some demo videos per tool. You can find the links to YouTube below. The number of demo videos will grow in the future so keep checking my YouTube channel and this blog.

Multi Dimensional Reporting:

Incoming Sales Order

 

Analytical Fiori Apps:

Sales order fulfillment issues

Customer 360 with navigation to accounting document, correspondence and sales order fulfillment issue

Display Financial Statement

Production Cost Analysis

Overview Pages with drill down to Analytical Path Framework (APF apps):

Procurement Overview Page

Order to Cash Overview Page

Smart Business Apps:

Overdue Receivables

Analytical Path Framework Apps:

Days Sales Outstanding (dso)

Query Browser:

Query browser with Design Studio

Lumira:

Example Service order reporting

Analysis for Office:

Example Service Order Reporting based on ACDOCA and Maintenance Order tables

Example Maintenance Contract Reporting based on ACDOCA and sales contract tables

Example Revenue and Margin Reporting based on billing document item query

 

Additional

In my blog The SAP GUI menu is back in Fiori 2.0 I explained how to add GUI transaction in the Fiori Launchpad. You can watch a demo of this functionality. It’s nice to see that the SPRO menu can be used as well.

  • GUI menu in Fiori 2.0 (incl. SPRO menu)

The SAP GUI menu is back in Fiori 2.0

The SAP GUI menu is back in Fiori 2.0

Together with S/4HANA 1610, SAP Fiori 2.0 has been launched. Fiori 2.0 is SAP’s latest iterations of the SAP Fiori design language.  Next to the fact that it looks better and there are much more apps available compared to Fiori 1.0, the most important revolution in my opinion is that we now have a harmonized user experience across all application components.

In this blog I will share my experience and challenges with Fiori 1.0 and the huge benefits and breakthrough in Fiori 2.0.

After the first serious release of Fiori back in 2014 we had mostly Simple Finance specific apps. With the release of S/4HANA 1511 the amount of apps significantly increased. Together with the increasing amount of apps I had, as a consultant and trusted advisor, a really hard time explaining customers how to position all the different user interfaces SAP has provided.

We still have SAP GUI, NetWeaver Business Client (now Business Client) and SAP Fiori. We had to avoid the situation were users need to login multiple times in multiple screens. My strategy was to use the Business Client as single point of entry for all users and cherry pick some relevant Fiori apps (mostly Analytical) for Management and C-level executives which they access directly via the Launchpad URL or via a shortcut in Business Client. It was not ideal and we were unable to provide users with a heterogynous and harmonized user experience. Not even mentioning the additional work in setting up authorizations for apps and Tile Catalogs/Groups.

It was not possible to position Fiori as a full blown user interface for all users simply because not all business processes and transaction were provided. Therefore Business Client was the user interface for daily operations and some users had access to Fiori for (mostly) Analytical Apps and reports.

SAP Fiori 2.0 Launchpad as single entry point for all applications and users

What has been changed in Fiori 2.0? The first thing you probably notice when you enter a Fiori 2.0 Launchpad the so called ‘Viewport Concept’. The desktop has been expanded to the left and right sides.

Fiori 2.0 Launchpad Viewport

On the right side we have the ‘Notification Area’ for the complete list of notifications, workflows etc.. On the left we have the ‘Me Area’ to access recently used Apps and some menu areas for personalization and configuration. In the ‘Me Area’ the App Finder is new as well. This replaces the App Catalog from Fiori 1.0.

The ‘App Finder’ is exactly the specific improvement and breakthrough which I will explain further in this blog. More general information and details about Fiori 2.0 can be found in the SAP document via below URL.

https://experience.sap.com/documents/sap-fiori-2-0-welcome-pack-master-document.pdf

One of the most important improvements in Fiori 2.0 is the harmonious user experience. There is no native Fiori App yet for all SAP transactions. But all “Classic” applications, such as Web Dynpro and SAP GUI for HTML are facelifted and received the new SAP Fiori visual theme Belize. This makes it possible to use the Launchpad as a single entry point for all users. It’s not only the theme change in the “classis” transaction. The facelift consist of more functional changes like Merged headers and other Fiori like control elements. You will directly notice that it is not a native Fiori app since it will open in a new window or tab. I will show some examples further on.

Adding SAP GUI and Web Dynpro transactions to you Launchpad

In the App Finder, which is available in the Me Area you can search for Fiori Apps in the available Catalogs, but you can also search for “Classis” transaction from the SAP GUI menu or User Menu.

This finally makes it possible to deploy Fiori in full for all users across the entire organization.

Let’s see how it works:

Fiori Me Area

From the SAP Menu I navigate to Financial Accounting submenus. As you can see all transactions are displayed as Tiles. For the people among us with nostalgia for the GUI menu, this feature is enlightening. You can still browse through the GUI menu.

Fiori 2.0 GUI Menu

From here I can add a transaction to a group, in this case My Home:

Fiori 2.0 GUI Menu add app

Even if there is a native Fiori App for a specific use, like the ‘Post General Journal Entry’ App. You can still decide to choose for the “classic” FB50 transaction if you think this is more productive for the user. They can coexist side by side and the transaction code is mentioned in the tile.

Fiori 2.0 launchpad

Another good example is the Create Sales Order (VA01) transaction. As you can see, merged headers and the control buttons at the bottom like in native Fiori apps are the first things you notice next to the color theme.

Fiori 2.0 VA01

You need to enable this functionality as it will probably not available out of the box. This can be done easily with the help documentation available via the below URL. https://help.sap.com/saphelp_uiaddon20/helpdata/en/f0/319f7b85d244859db8dac27031fdc3/content.htm

I’m happy to see that with Fiori 2.0 SAP managed to create a uniform and harmonized user interface. The Launchpad can work as a single point of entry and the look and feel of transactions are more or less the same.

Experienced users will probably recognize the facelifted SAP GUI apps, but with the Belize theme, coherent menu and control functions everything seems to be in harmony.

Update:

I received a lot of question related to the availability of Fiori 2.0 for older releases. The answer is yes, it is available for older releases. You just need to upgrade your front end server to 3.0. This applies for both Business Suite on HANA and S/4HANA Finance (1503/1605) systems. You can find more detailed info on SAP Help and the related OSS notes.