Problems reporting against an OLAP database.
Please provide some examples of things that SAP Business Objects does particularly well.
- I would score an 8 if reporting on a relational database - performance is good and the product works well.
- Features and options are good. It can cater to many different use cases, depending on end-user requirements.
- The suite contains multiple tools - OLAP, Explorer, Dashboards. It's highly versatile with a great variety of tool-sets. It doesn't force people to do things one way using a single tool.
- However, continuing problems in reporting against an OLAP database reduce the overall score to a 6.
Please provide some examples of areas where SAP Business Objects has room for improvement.
- BW / Business Objects integration: SAP has more work to do here. Version 4.0 has removed major obstacles in stability, but we still have a lot of performance issues. The Business Objects features have been limited by the BW background. I would give this a score of 5 overall.
- SAP is pushing an in-memory database solution - HANA. SAP resources are focused on moving BW to HANA database. I believe BO performance will improve significantly as a result of this. We want to re-evaluate our data warehousing strategy, middle of next year. We are going on two paths currently. We want to take a step back and re-evaluate if SAP has a better solution.
- Dashboard tool sub-standard relative to Tableau. Takes weeks to get working vs. days in Tableau to build.
- Mobile compatibility is far ahead in Tableau.
- From the admin perspective, Business Objects is not fine tuned out of the box.
- Rolling out support packages is not disciplined -sometimes every 2 weeks, sometimes every 2 months.
- No good alerting and monitoring systems.
- No handshake to BW - e.g. send something on a trigger basis from another system to Business Objects.
What positive or negative impact (i.e. Return on Investment or ROI) has SAP Business Objects had on your overall business objectives?
How many people in your company use SAP Business Objects? What business functions do they represent?
How many people do you have in-house to support SAP Business Objects on an on-going basis. Describe the types of people or skills required to support SAP Business Objects.
What are the 3-5 most important use cases for this product in your organization?
- Operations: We use Business Objects to create operational reports on manufacturing processes. We pull data from SAP ERP into BW and then report on that data.
- Finance: We bring in data from SAP ERP to BW and report using the native BW reporting tool called BusinessExporer (BEx). This has all GL information, and we use a profitability analysis tool called CO-PA (cost and profitability analysis) to track revenue, and sales goals.
- Sales:we pull data from all systems - SAP ERP, Salesforce.com, SAP CRM - and bring the data intoto BW, for where we report on it using Business Objects. We use Business Objects to build pipeline reports, revenue reports, shipment reports. and also to track the revenue quarter to quarter. We have another system called Adexa Collaborative Demand Planning (CDP) - for trend analysis and forecasts.
- We are not using Salesforce as revenue system. Everything related to revenue has to come from SAP. Primary report that SAP is looking for is revenue. We collect all data from transactional systems into BW.
What are some unexpected or innovative ways that your organization has been able to use SAP Business Objects?
Evaluation and Selection
Did SAP Business Objects replace another product in your organization? What products did you replace and why did you want to replace them?
- We were using the SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) for reporting, visualization etc. - We are still using Business Warehouse for for certain sets of users.
The primary reason for BO was that we had a data source coming from MySQL - a non-SAP system. The options we had were to bring this data into the SAP BW or purchase Business Objects so that we could report on this data without having to bring it into BW. We were pushed hard by SAP to purchase Business Objects. Our first use case was for the non-SAP data source.
In general, we are a heavy SAP shop. Our Enterprise Resource Planning system is SAP, but recently we started using Salesforce in addition to SAP CRM (Salesforce is not used for revenue tracking).
Business Objects comes with several component tools:
- Dashboards for visualization (previously known as Xcelcius)
- Web Intelligence (WebI) and ad-hoc reporting and querying environment
- Universe for data exploration (enables the end-user to interact with data without having to understand the complexities of database logic)
- Crystal Reports for more formatted reports.
Every tool has its own strength. Previously we only had OLAP analysis capabilities via the BW. For more web reporting, we used web application designer.
The switch to Business Objects allowed us to report on non-OLAP, SQL data sources which is great. However, before Version 4.0, it was not performing well on OLAP data in BW. We had a bunch of performance issues. BO was acquired in 2008 and it took four years to come up with more stable version. SQL-based access to BW data is now included and Business Objects running against a relational database, is much more powerful. But if I try to do the same thing against an OLAP source like BW, performance is constrained, and some of the features are not unlocked. we are still hampered in OLAP.
To a certain degree it's fixed in 4.0, which is a pretty big leap from Version 3, but it's still not 100% fixed. We still have some issues.
Which other products were on your short list as alternatives to SAP Business Objects? What made you choose SAP Business Objects over the alternatives?
- Originally, Business Objects was implemented before I joined.
When we had issues with Business Objects Version 3, we evaluated:
1) Tableau - This is a great product, really rich/appealing, and good mobile finctionality, but the price and the ETL functionality were issues. Allso performance of Tableau against OLAP data was not that good. It was much better against relational databases.
2) SQL BI - This had most of the features looking for. We have started to use SQL BI tools - not in production, we are stilltesting. We are not using with OLAP - we bring data from BW and store in a SQL data mart, stage, transform if required, model, then report.
- Finance still using old SAP BW tools.
- Operations is using BO 4.0
- Another group using Business Objects 3.1, and is going to try out SQL BI tools
We also evaluated another product called Greenplum (acquired by EMC). This has no front end to it, and is essentially a data warehouse.
On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied were you with the implementation? Do you have any key insights regarding implementation of SAP Business Objects?
How did your organization implement SAP Business Objects?
What kind of training did your organization get on SAP Business Objects?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the online training? Why do you give it this rating?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the overall support for SAP Business Objects? Why do you give it this rating?
Please rate customer support for SAP Business Objects for each of these factors .
If available, do you pay for premium support? Why or why not?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate SAP Business Objects's overall usability? Why do you give it this rating?
Please rate SAP Business Objects for each of the factors on the System Usability Scale.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the product's overall availability? Why do you give it this rating?
What systems have you integrated or attempted to integrate with? What is the depth of integration and how difficult was it to achieve?
Are there systems that you would like to integrate with or plan to integrate with? To your knowledge, do the vendors support or plan to support this integration?
- SAP ERP directlySAP has given a few direct integration points for specific use cases. This helps us to avoid ETL processes.
On a scale of 1-10, how easy was the vendor to work with during the sales process? Why do you give them this rating?