SAP Business Objects: Review by a Grumpy Old Customer
Updated December 09, 2020

SAP Business Objects: Review by a Grumpy Old Customer

Dariusz Zyskowski | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Software Version

Business Objects 3.1, Business Objects 4.1

Modules Used

  • Web Intelligence, Desktop Intelligence, Designer, Rich Client, Admin Tools

Overall Satisfaction with SAP Business Objects

SAP Business Objects has been a primary BI/Reporting solution for the City of Chicago for the past 14 years. It is being used by all city departments to report off practically all city databases. Available to all city employees via Web Intelligence module, it provides simple AdHoc capabilities, as well as advanced options for power users and developers.
  • Simplicity. It is very easy for a non technical user to create and format a report in Web Intelligence. This is especially true with the new 4.1 release.
  • Report distribution. Several options available, such as FTP, File Location, BO Inbox and Email. Each is very intuitive and simple to use without any confusing, very technical options (ex. Oracle's OBIEE).
  • Scheduling. This is a very important feature that is being used a lot here at the city (over 700 scheduled reports run every night). Very robust scheduling engine that can be easily configured and adjusted by the administrator if needed.
  • Service Pack/Fix Pack reliability. Each SP/FP fixes certain bugs, but unfortunately sometimes messes up other features (problematic upgrade from TOMCAT 5 to 7) which can be very frustrating. That is why we carefully test every one of them in our DEV environment before promoting it to Production/
  • JAVA vulnerability. It appears SAP is slow with latest JAVA client (needed for Web Intelligence report creation/edit) support. This creates issues when users update their JAVA release to the latest version, which is not yet supported by SAP resulting in error messages.
  • Internal reporting on Business Objects environment. You can report against user activity (from the audit tables), but there is no build in tool/capability to report on BO content, users, security environment which is very helpful for the administrators. Third party expensive tools are needed (APOS).
We recently evaluated Oracle's OBIEE solution.

Strengths: very good dashboard creating tool and two separate ad hoc modules: one for simple reporting ("Analysis") and one for more advanced, "Pixel Perfect" reports ("BI Publisher). All available from the same place and web based (no client needed). Also, there is no separate license needed.

BO has a separate module (additional license) to create dashboards and only one reporting tool, that does have certain limitations when it comes to advanced report creation.

Weaknesses: hard to administer, as OBIEE is part of the entire Oracle deployment, so you would have to use multiple tools: EM and Web Logic consoles.

BO is administered via single console CMC (Central Management Console)

OBIEE's GUI looks like from the late 90's. Very congested and not very user friendly. BO Webi is just the opposite.
We are still debating the SAP BO license renewal. We want to make sure (by comparing it to other tools) that BO has kept up with its competition with features and general product development direction. One major point for the established BO customers (like us) is Desktop Intelligence (Deski) reports support. Back when the product was purchased this was the only reporting tool offered by BO, so great majority of reports have been created in Deski. Now, new BO release 4.1 officially does not support it, but SAP recently made some concessions to at lease extend its life and make it easier to convert them to Webi.
Key question: who is the intended audience? Do you want your regular, non technical users to have report creation capabilities? If so, then BO is a way to go. Developers/Power Users can use other BO tools (Design Studio) to create elaborate, more advanced reports, graphs and dashboards.

SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence (BI) Platform Feature Ratings

Pixel Perfect reports
Report Formatting Templates
Drill-down analysis
Formatting capabilities
Report sharing and collaboration
Publish to Web
Publish to PDF
Report Versioning
Report Delivery Scheduling
Pre-built visualization formats (heatmaps, scatter plots etc.)
Location Analytics / Geographic Visualization
Predictive Analytics
Multi-User Support (named login)
Role-Based Security Model
Multiple Access Permission Levels (Create, Read, Delete)

SAP Business Objects Reliability

Overall, the tool (Web Intelligence 4.2) is fast and solid. One issue is a dependability on JAVA for a full feature report creation/edit capabilities (as opposed to limited HTML option). Second, planned end of JAVA support by major browsers (Chrome is already not supporting JAVA applet).