Describing Planning Features


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Describe SAP Analytics Cloud planning features
  • Perform manual input planning tasks

Planning Functionality

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

Because planning activities are a collaborative effort, SAP Analytics Cloud provides many options and utilities to make the entire planning process run smoothly. Additionally, 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.

Planning Features

SAP Analytics Cloud has many planning features that help you plan simpler and faster. These features are covered in detail in the Leveraging SAP Analytics Cloud Functionality for Enterprise Planning learning journey. Below, we will provide an overview of the following:

  • Data entry
  • Version management
  • Data locking
  • Data Actions
  • Validation rules
  • Validation Driver Trees
  • Structured allocations

In addition, SAP Analytics Cloud can be integrated with on-premise SAP planning systems, allowing you to maintain your investment in an existing planning system and use SAP Analytics Cloud as the front-end for planning activities.

Data Entry

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.

When then data changes, the affected cells are shaded yellow, indicating 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.
  • 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.
  • Roll a private version back to a previous state if you need to take a different direction.
  • Revert all changes to the original values.
Example of the version management panel

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.

Table with data locking tools dialog open

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 use the Calendar to schedule them to run automatically.

Story with data action play buttons and script dialog for the data action

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

Validation Rules

Validation rules let you define valid 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.

Example of a value driver tree

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 cost-of-living rates for the customer location.

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

Example of structured allocations

Perform Manual Input Planning

Business Scenario

You have been asked to create an operating income forecast for your company.

Task Flow

In these practice exercises, you will:

  • Create a story and configure the data table
  • Use simulation features
  • Work with private data and publish it
  • Lock cells

Task 1: Create a Story and Configure the Data Table

Task 2: Work with the Data Simulation Features

Task 3: Use the Disaggregation Feature and Publish Private Data

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