Recently I completed the Open SAP course “Planning with SAP Analytics Cloud”. I can really recommend this course because it gives a full overview and hands-on exercises for the main capabilities of SAC.
- Application building
The course focuses mainly on the ‘Planning’ capabilities of SAC, but the others topics are addressed as well, contributing to a full cycle and planning process.
I also used the option of opening a trial account and was able to do the hands-on exercises. I had worked before with SAC, preparing a demo. But now it started to make sense, whilst going through the motions. I feel more comfortable working with SAC now.
One of the most interesting features I found was the use of the predictive scenario in the planning process. In one of the exercises we used the actual data to train a Classification Prediction and then use the outcome as a planning version in the planning process. I think this can be definitely helpful in a planning and budgeting process.
Another interesting feature is the Value-Driver tree:
With the Value-Driver tree template it is very easy to set up a value driver tree to do a high over and multiyear simulation.
Data actions are basic functionalities in a planning & budgeting tool and there were several exercises for those:
- Copy: for example copy actuals to plan
- Allocations: for example: allocate expenses between cost centers based on specific drivers
- Advanced formulas: custom specific logic
The Copy and Allocations functions are quite easy to implement according to a basic template.
The advanced formulas are implemented with scripting, so there a lot of things are possible. The exercises gave a good impression of the possibilities and the scripting seemed well structured. Of course, with scripting it is possible to make very complex selections, so I cannot see how easy navigation or debugging goes with complex formulas.
In the course several other features were shown as well concerning the process and flow like data locking, planning calendar, collaboration, audits and security. It seems that the tools offers everything that is needed.
All in all I am pretty impressed with the planning functionality and features that are available in SAC. I think for a central planning application it really makes sense to have it in the cloud. Typically the planning and budgeting phase is limited to a specific time period, and everybody starts working on it one day before the deadline, given a huge peak load of concurrent users for the system. In the cloud it is better scalable on those days.
I have worked over the years with several SAP planning, budgeting and consolidation tools like SAP BPC, SAP BW-IP and SEM BCS. But given all the features in place, the cloud advantage and the roadmap of SAP, I think this is the first tool to consider in an SAP ecosystem for planning and budgeting.
In conclusion: SAP Analytics Cloud is a great tool for planning and is my first tool of choice for planning and budgeting in an SAP ecosystem.