Your latest ERP implementation likely began with your accounting or operations departments. Starting your implementation this way means when it comes time to do some of your financial reporting; your implementation team might not have considered how to deliver analytics and performance management in your SAP system. This mismatch has become so common there is even a name for it, the "ERP and Business Analytics Mismatch problem," which often results in a misaligned team that doesn't have a good grasp on the corporate financial growth picture. To solve this, we believe it is essential that your analytics connects to your ERP system and all the other key applications you use with it, such as Ariba, SuccessFactors or Concur. Connecting these applications with analytics means giving real-time access to sales, revenue operations, engineering, marketing, and any other areas that might need this information to make sound business decisions!
In most cases, ERP systems have been created for processing data, not analyzing it. This is great for getting a perspective of your business based on operational and transactional data. Unfortunately, this does little in the way of sharing trends and strategic-level insights. Recognizing this, SAP continues to release analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) solutions to further integrate analytics with your ERP system. This might lead you to the question, why aren’t these tools already combined into one?
The Difference Between ERP and BI Tools
Your SAP system is known as an Online Transaction Processing System (OLTP) which is designed to record and store transactions as they occur. SAP continues to have a high reputation for doing this well, at high speeds with as little storage as possible. As a result, we can say SAP is the top contender for ERP systems since it meets all these requirements for many organizations. However, processing transactions is only step one to understanding data. Organizations may still struggle to navigate data and make it visually understandable to stakeholders. This is where your BI tool comes in.
BI tools are known as Online Analytical Processing Systems (OLAP) that transform your transactional data into something more useful. These tools share data through reports, dashboards and charts. While these OLTP and OLAP tools have both been created to serve different functions, they are also very closely linked.
Combining Analytics in SAP
SAP customers are encouraged to deploy SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) to resolve the mismatch with Business Analytics in ERP systems. SAP markets SAC as key analytics and BI offering within your data ecosystem. A core benefit of SAC is the ability to share data easily, in a format that users can understand. This is made possible by importing business data into the cloud or creating secure connections to the cloud and on-premise data. Users can share models with many other users, while simultaneously restricting data access to each user role. Therefore, business users can discover, analyze, plan, predict and collaborate in one place.
Due to the seamless integration with your entire portfolio of business applications across your SAP ecosystem, there are several other benefits to your business. Consider that integrating everything into one cloud eliminates data re-entry, streamlines multidepartment processes and provides a 360-degree view of your business. Not to mention that organizations that use analytics in conjunction with their ERP system tend to be more likely to rank higher in financial performance.
The connection between SAC and your SAP backend allows your business to gain access to as much data as possible from your ERP system while reducing the associated costs of integrating another analytics solution. You can learn more about connecting your SAC system to import and live data sources, including SAP and third-party sources. SAP partners like ConvergentIS can also provide SAC support at a fraction of the cost of other integrations due to the lower complexity.
Integrating BI and ERP Systems for Increased Collaboration
When businesses use SAP Analytics Cloud, they gain a central place to access data and connect to shared information whenever necessary. SAC live connections provide fast access to data and enhance collaboration by streamlining communication with in-app features. Real-time data provides your accounting and planning teams with a 360-degree view of the financial landscape of your business. After all, how can you expect your team to make real-time decisions without real-time data?
Once a model is created, it then becomes a matter of sharing it with the right people. Recognizing the need for collaboration, SAP has optimized SAC to encourage collaboration through the creation of tasks with deadlines and associated notifications. This allows users to share models with all related parties in a formal manner. For collaboration in the creation of charts, there is also the opportunity to share data through the chat feature where team members can also leave comments.
It is important to note that team members can be added to the same account rather than signing up as individuals. However, due to security regulations, individuals on separate cloud accounts will not be able to collaborate. The result of improved collaboration is better performance and accountability and improved accuracy and alignment in forecasting plans.
Implementing SAC into Your Own Business
Although your business might have the goal of leveraging analytics alongside your SAP system, it is essential to consider the intricate business processes and workflows within your company. This will help you to determine if investing in this solution makes sense with your business' unique structure, goals and budget. If deploying this solution does not align with your business case, it is still important to be aware of SAC's progress as it continues to be integrated as the replacement for built-in reporting capabilities in other SAP products. As a future strategic path, your business will likely use the elements contained in this product, even if you don't purchase it right away.
Learn more about how SAP and SAC solutions can help your team make significant business improvements.