Roel van Bommel

Planning business processes: the power of data orchestration for SAP IBP

Is a data warehouse necessary for SAP IBP? Are there standard extractors from S/4 (or R/3)? Can CI-DS extract data from the source for our supply chain planning process? These are some of the questions that arise when customers purchase SAP IBP or further professionalise their supply chain planning process with SAP. As a data warehouse specialist, I have been exploring these questions for more than 7 years. The answers depend on a broader integration issue: which (sub-)process belongs with which tooling. In this blog, I will try to answer the above questions.

When to you use it or not

The right approach to using tooling always starts with understanding which business process it should support. Here, we take a closer look at the supply chain planning process.

The supply chain planning process in SAP IBP consists of several modules. Depending on the type of business you can turn on one or more modules.

If, for example, your supply chain planning process consists only of reacting immediately to your supply, you only use the Response & Supply module of SAP IBP. This requires (near) real-time data coming from your source system (S/4 or R/3). The SDI (or RTI) interface is sufficient to transfer your data from the source to SAP IBP; in this situation, a data warehouse is not needed.

Many companies find that a supply chain planning process is an alignment between demand and supply of products or goods. In all these situations, the use of a data warehouse (SAP DataSphere, SAP BW, SAP HANA) is advisable.

What is the power of data orchestration?

The power lies in several aspects of the supply chain planning process & adjacent processes:

  • You need data & combined data for SAP IBP

Consider situations where there are multiple source systems converging to one SAP IBP tool (e.g.; two R/3 systems to one IBP system; companies in R/3 to S/4 transition).

  • Business logic is needed to prepare certain data (master data attributes or key-figures) relevant to SAP IBP. The same business logic is also used for reporting needs. Instead of maintaining this logic in two places, it is advisable to orchestrate that in one system.

  • Another situation is that non-existent (or non-source) data is often needed for SAP IBP; such as a Data Base Unit of Measure (DBU), to be able to show the various base units of measure in one overview in SAP IBP. This can be easily and transparently created in a data warehouse with a piece of logic (using existing data).

  • A data warehouse is made for orchestrating data quickly and clearly. It also makes transferring data via a data warehouse to SAP IBP transparent and fast.

  • You also want to be able to report on the performance of your supply chain planning process; including analysing groupings and cross-sections of data that are not supply chain relevant, but are important to the marketing, HR & finance departments.

  • Think of holding dozens of snapshots that can be compared in a forecast accuracy trend report or BIAS reports with different lag-n-levels.

  • You can also create different cross-sections on sales & marketing attributes of the data and thus support the adjacent processes of supply chain planning with this planning data, without bringing your data to SAP IBP to do so. Think here of currency devaluation impact analysis & scenarios and possible workforce impact analysis on supply planning scenario data.

  • Automating housekeeping processes can be done via a data warehouse to keep your supply chain planning process clean.

  • Loading data into SAP IBP via CI-DS often goes as desired—but automatically deleting data is another matter. When consultants have initially set up the system and left, the system should be running as desired. Over time, more data is pumped in—yet the old (master) data remains. The advantage of keeping your data "clean" is that the processes (such as the heuristics run in SAP IBP) keep running quickly and smoothly, and your IBP system isn’t calculating unnecessary data. Bringing data from IBP to your data warehouse and using automatic comparisons to set "deletion" flags helps keep your IBP system clean.

What conclusion can you draw from this?

Use the right tool for the job.

  • Use your SAP IBP tool to support your supply chain planning process & operational reporting.

  • Use your data warehouse as a single-source-of-truth for loading to SAP IBP and receiving data from SAP IBP for housekeeping, trend reporting & support to your adjacent processes (such as financial planning, HR & marketing).

  • Use CI-DS to send your orchestrated data to SAP IBP and extract it from SAP IBP for your data warehouse.

This does not cover everything, but hopefully it gives good insight into why data orchestration is needed for SAP IBP. This is the first blog in a series dealing specifically with planning business processes across different tooling (SAP IBP, CI-DS, SAP DataSphere, SAC Planning).

Want to know more about the combination of data warehouse, integration & supply chain planning right now? Contact Bas Gijsbers or Roel van Bommel.