By Jim Kehler
SAP IBP 1902 is chock full of technical and functional improvements and corrections. I’ll be highlighting just a few features. These features cover troubleshooting batch jobs, better integration to your SAP ERP system and user experience. This is not comprehensive, and the list is not meant to be a ranking. I’m sure I left off somebody’s favorite feature but who has time to read a ten page blog that covers EVERY new feature?
These are of a few of my favorite things.
#1: Web-Based Planning
SAP says – “Planners can now use the new Web-Based Planning app to create planning views and work with them on the Web user interface. With this new app, planners have the option to view and change key figure data also from the Web UI.”
What it means – You can create simple planning views through the web portal that allow users to not only see key figure data but update it as well.
Why this is cool – Now you can have users see and enter data directly into IBP without having to install the excel add in or update it every quarter. Sales folks can enter forecasts or large orders, vendors can enter confirmed quantities in the right buckets, you get the picture. Not only that but security is much easier to control since you can limit the tiles users see and you don’t have to lock down all of the excel functionality.
#2: Outlier Job Detection
SAP says – You can use the Outlier Jobs Detection application job template if you want to:
• Find batch jobs that run over an unexpected length of time.
• Have an insight into jobs which run in parallel with the outlier
This job template uses machine learning algorithm.
What it means – This tool uses machine learning to analyze historical run times and determines if any jobs fall outside of an average range, much like finding outliers in sales history.
Why this is cool – you can use this tool to show you what days a job (forecast, optimizer, etc) runs the longest and what jobs are running at the same time that might be taking too much cpu. You can isolate events that interfere with these jobs and reschedule them to a more idle time. The cool part is that the algorithm will update with new history so that you don’t get a bunch of false signals.
#3: SAP S/4 Supply Chain Integration add-on
(Ok, so this isn’t completely new but there is an enhancement to it!)
SAP says – The SAP S/4 HANA, supply chain integration add-on for IBP and the SAP ERP, supply chain integration add-on for IBP now support a new field extension concept for extractors in time-series based integration. Additionally, product data structures are now supported by the add-on and the master data template in CPI-DS.
What it means – SAP is building out functionality to better integrate ECC and S4 to IBP. Standard extractors with a business-friendly front end will be used (I would see that as similar, but better, than the CIF for APO). SAP adds new master data, transactional data and even configuration data with new quarterly releases. This release adds some basic master data and an option to go get some special stuff.
Why this is cool – I’ll be speaking to the time series integration (order series is available as well and is where this technology originated). Now you can get up and running faster in IBP with less reliance and cost to build custom CPI-DS interfaces. Master data includes Locations, Products, Resources, Location Materials and Resource Locations. You can also get some nonstandard stuff and map it but you’ll need a little more technical help for that. The What’s new Webinar has a good technical walkthrough. One of IBP’s strong points is that a lot of the functions have been put into the hands of the business user with the excel interface. This follows that tradition by putting a snazzy front end on the integration that can easily be done by a configuration specialist vs someone with a more technical skillset.
#4: Copying Planning Notes Between Versions
SAP says – The Copy Version Operator can now also copy planning notes for key figure values from one version to another version. This new feature is available in the IBP Excel add-in as well as in the Copy Version Operator application job template.
What it means – You can copy planning notes between versions in a planning area. You can also choose not to copy, merge notes, replace notes or delete notes. Seems pretty straight forward.
Why this is cool – You can now take planning notes that tell you the why and the history of a decision and share those across versions. For instance, you can make some assumptions in your budget version on why you think a forecast for a product line should be much higher. You can copy those planning notes to the base version so planners can see the business reasons and not see the numbers as being out of line. You might also work in a non-base version to perform your what if planning. Those results can be transferred to base along with the planning notes to help explain the decision making.
#5: IBP Excel Add-in Most Used Feature
SAP says – When attributes and key figures are offered for selection, you can now see the most used items among those at the top of the selection list. The number of items that are highlighted this way depends on the number you specify in the Settings window.
What it means – With a little pre-work (settings in Excel Add-in, same place you set default UOM), you choose to display the top N number of most used entries to appear in a list to select from.
Why this is cool – One of the most amazing things about IBP is its flexibility. It’s like a Lego set that let’s you create whatever you can imagine (with some limitations) and you get new Lego pieces every quarter! This also can be a headache with so many attributes and key figures available for you to scroll through or search through. Now you can get the most used 10 (or 5 or 20, you choose) to display when you click in a search window. Of course, this is only useful if you select the right attributes and key figures most often!