Planning

Objectives
After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Position SAP Analytics Cloud as a planning solution
  • Explain SAP Analytics Cloud planning features

SAP Analytics Cloud Planning

Planning is all about setting strategic goals for a business and then determining how to meet those goals by creating annual budgets, tracking progress in forecasts, and simulating scenarios to find new opportunities. These plans are formed by projecting historical data (known as actuals) into the future, by gathering input from different departments, and by considering trends, risks, and opportunities in the market.

SAP Analytics Cloud Enterprise Planning

SAP Planning Strategy

While SAP Analytics Cloud supports all your planning activities and data, SAP's Cloud First strategy also provides customers with the option to leverage their existing on-premise planning system with the SAP Analytics Cloud user interface. Customers with existing SAP BW, SAP S/4HANA, and SAP BPC systems can take the hybrid approach for their planning activities, keeping their planning data on-premise but using SAP Analytics Cloud's user interface for their end-user planning activities.

SAP Analytics Cloud Planning Model

The SAC planning model offers the same content and possibilities as the analytics model, but additionally it can be used for sales forecasting, budget allocation, and what-if analysis. In a planning scenario, the planning model allows you to create a public, private, or shared version of the data which can be changed over time. This data will not overwrite or delete a public version until you save it. This gives you the chance to change values without overwriting the (original) values, and allows you to try different values with different scenarios to make final decisions.

Standard versions available for planning models are as follows:

Planning model preferences as follows:

  • Description - Insert a name for your model.
  • Default Currency - The currency your company uses to report their results at the corporate level.
  • Data Audit - Allows you to track when changes are made to your data.
  • Privacy - Provides a way for the user to define who can access the model data.
  • Currency Conversion - Allows you to see the values in your model in different currencies.

Planning Features

SAP Analytics Cloud has many planning features that help you plan simpler and faster. These features include the following:

  • Data entry

  • Version management

  • Data actions

  • Calendar

  • Data locking

  • Validation rules

  • Validation driver trees

  • Input tasks

  • Currency conversion

  • Structured allocations

Let's go through each planning feature in detail.

Data Entry

Data entry needs to be efficient and easy, whether you are a finance expert booking values to forecasts, or a line-of-business employee providing input for a bottom-up planning process. Get a familiar experience for data entry using a table that shares many functions with common spreadsheet applications.

Data entry is based around the table, where you can type relative or absolute values into individual cells. You can copy cell values, along with all the data that aggregates up to the copied value.

You can plan at any level of a hierarchy, and the data will automatically be rolled down to the lowest level. You can use the Planning Panel to quickly adjust proportions between members and move values along multiple dimensions.

When there is a data change, an asterisk (*) appears in the affected column. This symbol and yellow shading means the data entry function is being used but not saved. Data entries can be tested before you save and publish them.

You can type an absolute value in a cell, or type a relative value such as *2 or +500 to perform simple mathematical calculations on existing data. For example, if the data value in a cell is 100, and you type *2 in the cell, the value will change to 200.

Version Management

When you are planning for all possibilities, it helps to understand how different plans relate to each other and to your actuals data. Version management helps you to complete tasks such as the following:

  • Carry out variance analysis, such as making sure that your working forecast is on budget.
  • Quickly explore, share, and publish different scenarios without losing sight of the original data or introducing unnecessary complexity.
  • Roll a private version back to a previous state if you need to take a different direction.

You can use the Version Management panel, or just right-click the version header to access these options.

SAP Analytics Cloud Data Versioning (Simulations)

  • Work on your own data until you are ready to publish.
  • Try a change and undo/redo.
  • Use the history to see what happened with the data.

Data Actions

With data actions, you can model sequences of copy-paste operations, allocation steps, and advanced formulas. With advanced formulas, you model complex processes such as cash flow planning, depreciation, and carry forward operations. You can build these formulas using a visual editor that does not require scripting knowledge, although a scripting engine is also available for fine-tuning.

Copy operations make it easy to move data from one part of a model to another, or to a different model. For example, if you have separate models for Headcount and Expense Planning, you can use a data action to copy data from those models into a central Finance model.

To make your data actions more flexible and easier to update, you can also add parameters that can be set while designing or running the data action. You can also run other data actions as steps within your data action, letting you quickly reuse common calculations.

Planning users can run data actions in a story. Alternatively, you can schedule them to run automatically in the Calendar.

SAP Analytics Cloud data actions are like planning functions and data manager packages in other SAP planning solutions.

Calendar

Planning processes can get complicated. You can use the Calendar to keep track of tasks, stay on schedule, and collaborate with your team. Create, assign, and work on tasks, and add files, approval workflows, and processes that link tasks together. Create multiple tasks at once using recurrence, or generate tasks automatically based on model data. You can also use the calendar to schedule data locking and automatic data actions, and to view your input tasks and publications.

Predictive Forecasting

With predictive forecasting, you do not have to rely on your intuition alone. Back up your forecasts by selecting a value and calculating the likely outcomes for future periods based on historical data. You can then add the predicted values directly to your table.

Data Locking

With data locking, you can choose sections of data to lock when you are getting ready to close your books. Each section can also be delegated to owners who can lock the data themselves, or set the data to a restricted state where only the owners can edit it. You can then schedule changes to data locks in the Calendar.

Validation Rules

Validation rules let you define allowed member combinations across dimensions to prevent improper data entry and planning operations in stories based on a specific planning model. For the dimensions you define in a dimension combination rule, only the member combinations that you specify as allowed combinations can pass validation.

For example, you might want to increase sales of certain products in specific locations. You create a validation rule between the product dimension and location dimension members. Planning users can do planning only for the allowed combinations of products and locations.

Value Driver Trees

Value driver trees let you take a driver-based planning model and turn it into a streamlined visualization for running simulations and making strategic decisions. For example, you might be discussing how vulnerable your business is to raw material prices, or which product line to grow over the next few years to increase profitability the most. Value driver trees allow you to book values to drivers and inputs, visualize the flow of value through the accounts, and see the overall impact on KPIs now and in the future.

You create value driver trees directly in the story. The option to add nodes automatically based the model’s account structure can help you get started quickly, but you can still add and customize nodes as needed. Features like undo and redo, search, and drag-and-drop node linking make it easy to get set up.

Input Tasks

When your plan needs input from a group of coworkers, such as regional managers, you can assign an input task to them.

These managers can be assigned to their areas within the model, so that you only need to choose the regions and send the input task. Each manager adds their input in a story that is filtered to their own region, and then sends the task back for review. At the end of the process, the results are booked to your version of the data and you can continue your work.

Currency Conversion

Currency conversion features make it easy to work with data from multiple currencies and to predict the effects of exchange rate shifts. Exchange rate tables can be applied to more than one model and swapped out as required. They can also contain multiple rates for different dates and categories of data and for specific scenarios. From within a story, you can view your data in different currencies, apply a different set of exchange rates, or analyze multiple exchange rate scenarios side-by-side.

Structured Allocations

You can use structured allocations to establish reusable steps for allocating costs, such as allocating the cost of IT support across different departments by support hours used, or the cost of travel across different product groups based on sales revenue.

You build allocation steps using a visual tool that does not require scripting expertise, but that covers a range of different allocation workflows.

Additional Planning Features

Let's look at some additional support provided for planning in SAP Analytics Cloud.

Business Content for Planning

Business content gives you a head start in setting up your solution by providing premade models, processes, and stories designed for different lines of business and datasources. Business content is stored on the content network and is available for import by admins of any SAP Analytics Cloud system, excluding trial systems.

You can import it to your system to get premade models optimized for connections to datasources, such as SAP S/4HANA and SAP Integrated Business Planning (SAP IBP), as well as polished stories to present the data. Some business content packages also contain data actions and structured allocation steps to lead your users through a complete planning workflow.

For example, the planning content currently includes SAP Integrated Business Planning, Integrated Financial Planning for SAP S/4HANA, and a suite of best practices content for Financial Planning and Analysis for S/4HANA.

In the figure Integrated Financial Planning for SAP S/4HANA Best Practice Content one of the stories provided with the off-the-shelf content for Financial Planning and Analytics is displayed. Delivered content can be used to speed up implementations.

Two-Way Integration with BPC

If you need an on-premise planning system but want to add a cloud-based user experience, you can connect to your SAP Business Planning and Consolidation data from SAP Analytics Cloud.

Integration with SAP IBP

SAP Analytics Cloud supports two-way integration with SAP Integrated Business Planning, helping you make sure that your financial plan is tightly linked with your supply and demand planning.

For example, you can set your strategic plan in SAP Analytics Cloud and then export it to SAP Integrated Business Planning to check the plan against your supply chain constraints. Then, you can bring the data back into SAP Analytics Cloud to make further adjustments to your financial plan based on the supply chain analysis.

Integration with SAP Business Warehouse

For customers who use SAP Business Warehouse(BW), actual data can be imported via BW queries into SAC, planned on, and then exported back to BW.

Integration with SAP S/4HANA

For customers who use SAP S/4HANA, actual data can be imported via core data services views into SAP Analytics Cloud, planned on, and then exported back to SAP S/4HANA.

Perform Manual Input Planning

Task Flow

In this exercise, you will perform the following planning activities:

  • Create a new model and a new story
  • Input data at the parent level
  • Use simulation features
  • Work with private data and publish it
  • Lock cells
  • Add a comment column

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