Have You Tuned Up Your BPC Lately?
As I’m sitting here, at 35,000 feet, writing this blog, I’m hoping that somebody on the ground crew has done a thorough inspection of this metal tube and two large engines to make sure everything is operating as expected. We would do the same for our cars on the ground, changing the oil every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, as well as the major service intervals every few years as the miles accumulate. Hopefully every year we make an appointment for ourselves and our family members to have that annual checkup with the doctor. These routine tasks all have the same intention of ensuring that everything is functioning as normal.
I view an SAP Business Planning and Consolidation system no differently. There are annual and monthly maintenance tasks that should be considered, but sometimes as year-end approaches, other priorities pile up and these get neglected. This can lead to system issues, performance issues and ultimately user frustration if they are not resolved.
If we do not change the oil in our car, what happens? It stops doing what it was intended to do. It fails to protect the engine and things start to build up, which causes more mechanical failures. The longer you neglect the simple annual and monthly maintenance items, potentially the bigger the issues can become. So, I divided this blog in to two parts, the first focused on items that should be looked at on an annual basis and the second on items that may fall in to a larger assessment on a system that has not been updated over time.
- Dimension Updates – I view this as items needed to “roll” the system forward, updating properties, adding the next fiscal year, etc.
- Purge Historical Data – Do I really need 12 years of historical actuals and 5 years of forecasts and plans? What is truly needed to run the business and provide relevant analytics? Can data be exported to a flat file and saved off, should it ever need to be easily loaded again?
- Purge Audit Data – If you are utilizing data auditing or activity auditing in BPC, this audit data builds over time. There needs to be a set purging or archiving schedule of audit details, as well as ultimate deletion of this data.
- Cleanup Templates – Are there templates that are no longer used or relevant to the process? Things are built over time, used for testing, one-off reports, etc. The templates pertinent to your process should be kept, while the rest evaluated for archiving or deletion.
- Cleanup Data Files – Just as transactional data builds in the database, so do the log files in Data Manager, as well as the data files, if you utilize a flat file import process. A retention policy should be decided upon and both of these purged on a regular basis.
- Security Cleanup – Have users since left the company, but their User ID was never deleted from BPC? Have people changed positions and roles within the organization that necessitates a change in security.
- Upgrade Support Packs – The most recent support packages, relevant to your landscape, should be evaluated to determine if there are fixes and/or enhancements that are applicable to your environment. Learn more about your BPC upgrade options here.
- Refresh Environments – Not that this is best practice and we wouldn’t recommend it, but we do realize sometimes changes are made in production, depending on your organizations policy. This is a good opportunity to get the Development and QA systems back in sync to facilitate proper testing procedures and rollout.
Other Maintenance Items to Consider
In addition to the annual and monthly maintenance tasks, here are some other longer term items to consider:
- Overall BPC Design – Is the structure defined still relevant to the organization’s business processes? Sometimes change in location, ownership and re-organizations affect the resources, which in turn impacts how they want to view and run the business. Perhaps it’s just an overall change in business structure that has necessitated a different plan or forecast process. Perhaps there are additional business units that could be brought in to BPC to help facilitate their plan or consolidation process? Either way, the design and architecture should be evaluated for relevancy. This could include building new models/dimensions, updating existing, or simply removing ones that are no longer needed.
- Training – As users move throughout the organization, knowledge gaps are created, even with diligent cross-training and documentation. Are there are group of users that could benefit from training and understanding best practices to use in building new content in BPC?
- Data Integration Review – Evaluation of current data load process and identify areas for improvement and potential data integration points. Again, as business needs change, perhaps what was once easy to manually maintain master data has now grown in to a huge time commitment and could benefit from automation. The same is true on the transactional side, looking at sources of data, simplification, aggregation and removal of unnecessary fields from source tables to help streamline the data loading process.
- Application Review – Conduct a comprehensive review of developed Logic and EPM Reports and Templates for functionality, enhancements and candidates for rebuild as applicable. We discussed removing old reports, but what about the reports and logic that need a tune up? As the business requirements change over time, it’s a good idea to evaluate them to see if they can be simplified, have dynamic capabilities, still follow best practice guidelines and ultimately still match the process. We also mentioned removing users that are no longer with the company, but in general does the security model still fit the organization structure?
- Technical Review – Evaluate system specifications and configuration (Development, QA, and Production) of current landscape. This can include hardware/sizing evaluation based on current system statistics, ensuring system parameters are set appropriately, service pack levels of all applicable software components and verifying the system is optimized from a performance standpoint.
These ideas should be a starting point to how to keep a Business Planning and Consolidation system operating efficiently on a regular basis, or even if you missed a few “check-ups” along the way. We are here to assist with getting your system back on track and performing at its peak! If you want to make sure you are getting the most value from your BPC, read our white paper on achieving a faster financial close.