At a previous customer they replaced an end-of-life solution (SRC) with BPC (Business Planning and Consolidation) 7.5 for their budgeting processes. The SRC solution had been end-of-lifed triggering the need for a new solution.
SAP had purchased BPC from another software provider as they had a best-in-breed budgeting solution in Microsoft Excel. In BPC 7.5 you experience all the growing pains of a solution in the middle of integration from external functionality to functionality fully incorporated in to SAP.
This meant that we had to purchase Windows servers, there was a general lack of integration, workflows worked outside of SAP workflows, the system architecture (never really lean in SAP) was so far from lean that it introduced many difficulties in determining where performance problems were located.
SAP has really reached a point in the market where just about everybody that wants to use SAP for their core business processes, owns SAP. Like other large software companies when people make solutions that work better than theirs they tend to buy the competitors out and incorporate their software as an ‘add-on’ to the core SAP. This is an additional licensing fee for SAP instead of adding an existing core module like WM, IM, or SD.
There are other pain points with BPC 7.5:
- There were three interfaces to administer BPC.
- A web based interface for primary system control.
- SAP GUI to look at the data in BW
- A windows executable program
That is for administration and administration can be tough and you might need to do it in multiple places; however, even on the end user area there was more than 1 UI.
- Web pages (workflow and approvals)
Having more than one interface, plus the added many Excel sheets that the end users needed to be trained was a headache in itself.
At the time my customer installed BPC 7.5 SAP was producing patches seemingly every day in order to make it a stable product.
Patching systems is a problem; however, it is something that is manageable. There was an additional problem that patching the Windows Client, BPC servers, and SAP BW all seemed to be interrelated. The net result is that often when an update was required it impacted all end users.
After all of these hurdles you find that we still had to deal with performance issues in BPC largely caused by the clients decisions to have a large number of dimensions.
Unfortunately, it seemed like the BPC 7.5 UI was particularly resistant to being packaged and resulted in many manual installs wasting man hours that would have been better spent managing projects or working on the budget.
One piece of functionality that sticks in my mind is when an end-user is looking at the budget and sees what they consider to be a discrepancy in last years postings, what do they do? What they need to do? They need to look at the details to understand what happened. There is drill down functionality available in BPC. Unfortunately, this required additional hardware and wasn’t identified early enough in the project to be done. This left unhappy end-users at the client.
Another major issue was that the different interfaces had different logins. In addition to that, the login frequently had to be entered several times before letting the end user perform the task they set out to do.
Many of these items are claimed to be addressed with BPC 10 and BPC 7.5 is now deprecated technology. But as a vendor and a customer these problems will always be recalled to my mind whenever I think of BPC or discussions come up about installing BPC at a client site.