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SAC Planning Stories using SAP BPC Embedded: a user’s perspective


There has been a lot of noise regarding SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) solution and its ability to centralise all data from diverse data sources for analysis and reporting.

One of the features that SAC provides is the possibility to create Planning Stories from your existing SAP BPC Embedded solution. Though there is a lot of information surrounding SAP SAC planning, there is little information from an end-user view on what integrating your current SAP BPC Embedded solution into SAC looks like.

Figure 1. Before and After Planning Story (Image Source: Capgemini)
Figure 1. Before and After Planning Story (Image Source: Capgemini)

SAC Planning Stories

To provide a comparable example of how existing Web Planning Templates look and feel after creating a SAC Planning Story, I used our Capgemini Planning Template solution which  is developed using SAP BPC Embedded.

This solution consists of a central OPEX & CAPEX model with sub-modules for Staff Costs, Service Lines and Status and Tracking on a Netweaver Platform and has been successfully implemented across many clients.

Three of the existing web forecasting templates were rebuilt on a like-for-like functional basis. This resulted in transforming the existing SAP Web Application Design (WAD) Templates to a modern SAC Planning Story.

Figure 2. Example of Before and After Planning Story Designs (Image Source: Capgemini)
Figure 2. Example of Before and After Planning Story Designs (Image Source: Capgemini)

SAC provides a welcome addition to the toolset of SAP BPC Embedded. Its clean, modern web design provides a mechanism to rollout a user-friendly web (zero-footprint) solution across the estate of any organisation.

This can be seen clearly if you compare the templates of the Status & Tracking, where widgets and embedded table charts can be easily added.

Figure 3. Example of adding Widgets and Graphs to your SAC Planning Story (Image Source: Capgemini)
Figure 3. Example of adding Widgets and Graphs to your SAC Planning Story (Image Source: Capgemini)

Our learnings in building new SAC Planning Stories

Once an SAP Analytics Cloud tenant has been established in your organisation, it is relatively easy to create your SAC Planning Stories for rollout to your planning community. But like all things new there are differences.

Key benefits of SAC Planning Stories:

  • Presentation:
    • A clean and clear interface and can allow for more complicated presentations that can be displayed on a variety of devices i.e. computer; tablet or smart phone
    • Page designs using Responsive Pages that will auto-fit your screen size
    • A similar tabstrip support as with Web Templates
    • Buttons for running planning sequences
    • Ability to insert widgets into tables; free-form text; URLs, etc.
    • Highlight planning data that has changed
    • Better display of messages – e.g. Success / Failure of planning sequences; save executions
  • Usage:
    • Natural web scrolling
    • Ability to add grid-lines and excel-like column/row headers
    • Copy/Paste facility – i.e. Excel -> Template -> Excel
    • Dynamic filter display for better selection of data
    • Integrated Plan & Display functions (at table level) to allow switching between plan and display modes

Current limitations of SAC Stories:

Please note that these limitations were observed at the time of writing this article and might be addressed in future releases of SAP Analytics Cloud.

  • Presentation:
    • It does not provision for a Plan/Display function in a button, therefore it can be a little clumsy when trying to go into plan or display mode.
    • No report-to-report interface, therefore additional tabs or URL links are needed in the SAC Planning Stories to jump to other reports.
    • Conditional formatting (i.e. RAG status) is not inherited from the BW/BPC query and will need to be re-implement using SAC conditional formatting.
  • Usage:
    • Page display can seem a little slower when opening a tab for the first time in comparison to a web template, since a web template will execute all queries prior to display.
    • Cannot execute Planning Sequences on opening the template.
    • Cannot easily execute Planning Sequences on Saving Data to calculate and/or integrate data.
    • No File Load Facility for a template.
    • You can only run Planning Sequences.

What this means is when you convert to SAC Planning Stories, you will need to make changes to take advantage of the new features, or manage the differences from the current web templates. This includes:

  1. Fine Tune the templates to add:
    1. Additional visual features and pages i.e. Widgets & Graphs.
    2. Pages to provide additional information and analysis to the planner.
  2. Re-launch your planning solution to the user community; this enable you to:
    1. Showcase the front-end.
    2. Re-train all your users on how to use their planning solution.

The creation and development of SAC Planning Stories is simpler than that of Web Application Design and allows an organisation to truly centralise all their reporting in a cloud-based solution. Some features I would like to see to help in the transition from web templates to SAC include:

  • Ability to go into Plan or Display Mode via a Button on the Button Bar.
  • A file load facility directly from the Web template, similar to WAD and Analysis for Office.

The development of SAC is a strategic priority to SAP with new features and functionality to be released in the future, but in the meantime, I hope this blog provides some insight in converting your Web Planning Templates to SAC.

Considerations and pre-requisites

SAP recommends that all BEx Reports and Applications are transitioned to SAC before the end of 2022 (OSS Note 2496706).

To connect your existing SAP BPC Embedded system to SAC, a Live Connection between the systems is required. Once this has been achieved, SAC templates can be built that will reuse your existing SAP BPC configuration (Queries & Planning Sequences) to build a “Story” in SAC. See the excellent article from Chris Bradshaw A Technical Deep-Dive Into SAC Connectivity.


Andrew Simmonite

Andrew is an implementer with over 15 years of SAP BW and financial planning solutions experience. He has implemented leading edge solutions for many clients helping them support and transform their financial business planning process.