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Reviewed Edition: 3.1, 4.0 SP

About the Reviewer

Sr Technical Analyst SAP BW/BI at Silicon Laboratories
* This review reflects the author's experience at a prior company
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SAP Business Objects Review: "Problems reporting against an OLAP database."

3
Reviewed on December 21 2012
1
521

TrustRadius Review Summary

BI Analyst at a large electronics manufacturer struggles with SAP Business Warehouse / Business Object integration issues. Upgrading to Version 4.0 has helped significantly, but issues remain.

Overall Satisfaction with SAP Business Objects

Overall SAP Business Objects Rating : 6 of 10

Average: 7.6
6.0

SAP Business Objects Pros

  • 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.

SAP Business Objects Cons

  • 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.

ROI on SAP Business Objects purchase

  • Sales - helps track revenue, shipments, pay commissions to reps.
  • Operations - usability of tool is good - one common repository for every body to see reports. This really is a one-stop-shop for reporting.
  • Inter-operability of analysis views.

Likelihood to Renew SAP Business Objects : 8 of 10

Average: 8.3
8.0
We will likely make this decision at the end of next year. We have 2 paths. We have to determine how we consolidate our various data warehouses, and what are the enterprise promoted tools.

Most of the operations reports are in the WebI ad-hoc reporting tool, and we don't have any complaints about them.

Using SAP Business Objects

SAP Business Objects Users and Roles

300 - Operations

Finance

Sales

SAP Business Objects Support Headcount Required

2 - One is a DBA, the other is SAP Basis person.

Key SAP Business Objects Use Cases

  • 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.

Innovative Uses of SAP Business Objects

Future Planned Uses of SAP Business Objects

Evaluating SAP Business Objects and Competitors

Products Replaced by SAP Business Objects

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.

SAP Business Objects Alternatives Considered

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.

Key SAP Business Objects Differentiators

SAP Business Objects Evaluation Lessons

SAP Business Objects Implementation

SAP Business Objects Implementation Rating and Lessons : 5 of 10

Average: 7.3
5.0
For both 3.1 and 4.0 implementation was a combination of us and SAP Professional Services.

Tool implementation is overall pretty easy.

In addition to SAP, we hired another consulting company to help audit and troubleshoot. They didn't find anything wrong with what we were doing - although we were experiencing some issues.

SAP Business Objects Implementation Details / Implementation Partner

  • Vendor implemented
  • Implemented in-house
  • Professional services company

SAP Business Objects Implementation Phases

Change Management Lessons

SAP Business Objects Implementation Issues

SAP Business Objects Training

Methods Used for SAP Business Objects Training

  • Online training
  • In-person training
  • Self-taught

SAP Business Objects In-Person Training Rating

SAP Business Objects Online Training Rating

I haven't used it or got feedback from the end user.

Content looks to be pretty detailed. Focused on SQL but not BW.

Ease of SAP Business Objects Training

We learned through on the job training as administrators.

End users learn through documentation, online training and classroom training that we put on. We put on a class whenever we roll out a new report.

SAP Business Objects Configurability Rating and Impressions

SAP Business Objects Configuration Lessons

SAP Business Objects UI Customization

SAP Business Objects Extensibility and Code Customization

Additional SAP Business Objects Customization

SAP Business Objects Support

Overall Support Rating for SAP Business Objects : 7 of 10

Average: 7.0
7.0
Initial level of support is normal. Used to respond quickly, now less so. Quality seems to be degrading a little.

Level of expertise - sometimes it takes months to get to the right level of information, sometimes it can be fairly quick. On average it's pretty fast compared to other SAP tools. Business Objects support is better than that for other SAP products.

SAP Business Objects Customer Support Pros and Cons

ProsCons
None
None

SAP Business Objects Premium Support

Yes - Seeing how difficult the tool is to keep up and running, our CIO decided to do this.

SAP Business Objects Bug Resolution

Exceptional Examples of SAP Business Objects Support

Using SAP Business Objects

SAP Business Objects Usability Rating : 7 of 10

Average: 8.5
7.0
If end users are trained enough, this tool is pretty slick. People can create reports without too much trouble.

Training is a very important component to use the tool. Most training is pretty straightforward. Classroom training comprises 3-4 sessions or two weeks of orientation.

SAP Business Objects Usability Pros and Cons

ProsCons
None
None

Easy Tasks in SAP Business Objects

Difficult Tasks in SAP Business Objects

Mobile Interface Availability and Impressions

SAP Business Objects Reliability

SAP Business Objects Scaleability Rating

SAP Business Objects Availability Rating : 6 of 10

Average: 8.0
6.0
When we implemented 3.1, we had a tough time managing the system: It took almost a year to stabilize.

With 4.0, we want to roll out to more users, and are holding back because of fears about the performance issue

SAP Business Objects Performance Rating : 6 of 10

Average: 8.0
6.0
Highly contingent on source database.

Integrating SAP Business Objects

Ease of Integrating with SAP Business Objects

Systems Integrated with SAP Business Objects

  • SAP Business Warehouse
  • SQL relational database tool called Planview
Data from SAP CRM, etc, into BW.

Future SAP Business Objects Integration Plans

SAP ERP directly
SAP has given a few direct integration points for specific use cases. This helps us to avoid ETL processes.

Types of Integration

SAP Business Objects Integration Lessons

Relationship with SAP

SAP Pre-Sale Rating

It's tough.They are very bureaucratic - there's no one person to go to who can directly help us .We have a service coordinator - every meeting has 10 people.

No dedicated technical account manager.

SAP Post-Sale Rating

Key Negotiation Points

Dealing with SAP

SAP Business Objects Upgrade Process

SAP Business Objects Upgrade Benefits

Anticipated Benefits from Future SAP Business Objects Upgrades

Changing Editions of SAP Business Objects

Future Edition Upgrade Plans

Questions and Comments About This Review

Have questions or comments for Rajesh? Did you have a similar or a different experience with SAP Business Objects?