Building Advanced Formula Data Actions


After completing this lesson, you will be able to:

  • Build advanced formula data actions

Advanced Formula Data Actions Introduction

Planning requires various types of calculations. To perform these calculations, you can use advanced data actions (formulas).

Here are some key points regarding advanced formulas:

  • Use Cases:

    • Advanced formulas provide a mechanism for custom calculation logic
    • Driver-based formulas: Rev = Price x Qty
    • Depreciation calculation
    • Populate opening balances for headcounts
    • Mark-ups | Mark-downs
    • Schedule or run on an ad-hoc basis
  • Maintenance:

    • The script editor provides context help and code completion
    • Validation and trace mode in the script editor
  • Features:

    • The visual editor provides a graphical wizard to define calculation logic
    • The statements are represented by boxes, which can be further configured with special dialogs
    • The graphical representations give users a clear logic flow
Advanced formula options for data actions in SAP Analytics Cloud. The step is selected on the left and the configuration options are displayed on the right.
Advanced data actions are used to perform calculations that are stored in the database. If there's a need to perform calculations that aren't stored in the database, there are several options:
  • Data table formulas
  • Story-based calculated measures
  • Model-based calculated measures

Advanced Data Actions

Create Calculations with the Visual Editor

Use the visual tool to drag and drop graphic elements in a flow diagram to create advanced formulas. The general process flow for creating advanced formulas is:

  1. Specify the context
  2. Define and use a variable if needed
  3. Set the configuration options: Calendar, Signflip, Unbooked
  4. Formula options:
    • Calculation
    • Repeat
    • Condition
    • Delete
    • Comments
Visual editor for creating advanced calculations.

Advanced Formula

  • Advanced formula actions allow you to design formulas for calculations to apply to the source data. The results are written to specified scopes in the planning model.
  • Unlike dimension formulas, which perform the calculation in real-time "on the fly", the advanced formulas data action stores the result of the calculation in the SAP Analytics Cloud database.
  • And as with dimension formulas, parameters can be used in the advanced formula data action.

Recent Enhancements for Advanced Data Actions

  • Support AND/OR for IF condition: Complex and detailed condition expressions are possible with shorter scripts, which means better execution performance time as well as better readability.
  • Keyword "BREAK" that stops a loop if a specific condition is fulfilled: Support an immediate stop of FOREACH loop with IF condition or others. For example, stopping the depreciation loop with date dimension is possible if the residual book value reaches zero value or the iteration number reaches and the same as the useful life. You don't need to loop for an entire date scope resulting in better execution performance.

  • Load pre-aggregated value as calculation scope: Minimize the dataset size of calculation scope for non-calculation related dimensions.
  • Pop-up dialog-box that shows the calculation scope: Estimate the calculation scope at design time and optimize the script for better execution performance.

Visual Editor Compared to the Script Editor

The visual editor can be used for simpler calculations. It generates the script automatically.

The script editor is used for more complex programming.

You can hover on a dimension in the data line to see what members are included in the scope of the Calculation.

Example of an expression

Ways to Design Advanced Formulas

There are two different ways to design advanced formulas – using the visual tool and writing scripts.

You can build your own logic in the visual editor and then view the generated code in the script editor.

The visual editor is shown on the left and the script editor on the right

Summary: Visual Editor and Script Editor

Visual EditorScript Editor
Target business usersTarget professional modeling users, such as IT specialists
No coding skills requiredRequires basic coding knowledge
Created by dragging and dropping graphic elementsCreated by writing scripts
Can be switched to scriptCan be switched back to the visual editor

Context Membersets

Use Membersets to Restrict the Data Region

Membersets are used to restrict the data region for the calculation.

Typical use cases:

  • MEMBERSET [d/ORGANIZATION].[p/REGION] ="ASIA": Set the scope of the Organization dimension's Region property to ASIA.
  • MEMBERSET [d/FLOW] = ("F_TEMP", "F_NONE"): Set the scope of the Flow dimension to the F_TEMP and F_NONE members.
  • MEMBERSET [d/CURRENCY] = [d/ORGANIZATION].[p/CURRENCY]: Set the Currency dimension's scope to the value of the Organization dimension's currency property.
  • CONFIG.HIERARCHY = [d/ENTITY].[h/H1] MEMBERSET [d/ENTITY] = BASEMEMBER([d/ENTITY], "World"): Return all base members of the member "World" in hierarchy H1 and set these base members as the member scope of the Entity dimension.
  • MEMBERSET [d/DATE] ="202201" TO "202212": Set the scope of the Date dimension from 202201 to 202212.

Memberset is used to determine the context, that is the Point of View or the Scope.

Advanced Formula - Memberset

In the preceding example, see the explanations for the script:

  • MEMBERSET [d/Date] = (BASEMEMBER([d/Date].[h/YQM], %YearMonth%))

    BASEMEMBER refers to leaf members for calendar year in this example.

    The time hierarchy is set to the Calendar Year, therefore YQM is the hierarchy ID.

    % denotes variables: for example %YearMonth% refers to the prompt/variable for time.

    Result: If you select 2021, the system will include all months of 2021 in the calculation.

  • MEMBERSET [d/Cost_Center] = (BASEMEMBER([d/Cost_Center].[h/H1], "All_Cost_Centers"))

    The H1 hierarchy for the cost center dimension has been selected.

    All_Cost_Centers is the id of the top node/parent.

  • Result, if the user selects hierarchy node Canada, only Canadian cost centers will be included in the calculation.

Advanced Formula Memberset Example

The following script will only run for PC1 & PC2 (that is, only PC1 & PC2 are scoped).

Memberset example of an advanced formula. The formula is at the top of the screen and the example before (left) and after (right) on displayed below it.

In the preceding example, January data is being copied to February with an uplift:

DATA([d/Date] = %TargetMonthYr%) = RESULTLOOKUP([d/Date]=PREVIOUS(1)) * %UpLift%

  • In this example, %TargetMonthYr% is the receiver or target that is dynamically selected by the planner.
  • RESULTLOOKUP([d/Date]=PREVIOUS(1)) dynamically reads the previous month (or period) as compared to the %TargetMonthYr% selection.
  • %UpLift% is the variable for the uplift provided by the planner. Example: 1.25.

Use the Visual Editor to Create an Advanced Formula

Business Scenario

You are a member of the planning team at ABC Corporation and you are responsible for creating and configuring data actions.

Before Jen can run the data action to perform the calculation, you must use the visual editor to create a data action that calculates labor. Since labor rates are in the HR model, you will use the link command to look-up the labor rates and calculate labor.

What skills will you develop in this practice exercise?

In this practice exercise, you will:

  • Create the parameters (prompts)
  • Create the advanced formula action for labor
  • Run the data action from the story to calculate labor


Variables in advanced formulas can be used to store data temporarily while the script is running, to avoid calculating the value repeatedly. This is the traditional concept referred to as a Local Variable. or Virtual Variable Member. The virtual variable member will be stored independently and cannot be added to a dimension like a real dimension member. After defining a variable member for a certain dimension, you can use the variable member to store values only for that specific dimension.

Key Points:

  • Write this definition after the configuration settings and before all the instructions.
  • Create a new name for a virtual variable member. Make sure, in the variable member definition, it always starts with the prefix "#".
  • Dimension Name is mandatory and must be an existing dimension in the current data action model. The version dimension is not supported. Measures are supported, for example: VARIABLEMEMBER #Total_Revenue OF [d/Measures]
  • A virtual variable member can only be used in DATA and RESULTLOOKUP functions. When inputting "#" in DATA() or RESULTLOOKUP(), a list of all available virtual members will be shown.

In the following example of advanced logic virtual variables, you can see that:

  • SumOfProducts is the temporary account for total sales revenue.
  • Since the total sales are over 1000 (1500), the system calculates other income of 1500 x -.01 for each product.
Advanced Logic Virtual Variables

Configuration Options

Configuration Options
Fiscal Year: This configuration governs the time hierarchy used in the advanced formulas. This setting affects the result of time/date commands, such as FIRST and LAST.It controls which period is selected.
Account Sign Flip: If this option is turned on, all calculations consider the sign value (debit or credit) of each account according to the account type (LEQ, AST, INC, and EXP).
Unbooked Data: Unbooked data refers to cells with empty values. If turned on, all empty cells in the source data to be copied will be treated as cells with zeroes.

Advanced Formula - Time Hierarchy

Time can be interpreted as YQM: Year | Quarter | Month or as FYQP: Fiscal Year | Quarter | Period.

Advanced Formula - Time Hierarchy

This configuration governs the time hierarchy of the script. If this configuration is not defined, the default time hierarchy from the model is used.

Advanced Formula - Sign Flip

In advanced formulas, all data is calculated in absolute value by default, regardless of the account type. This is important when working with the Account dimension, where certain accounts will have positive values while others will have negative values. If you want to calculate with the existing sign-flipping rules of Account dimensions, then enter CONFIG.FLIPPING_SIGN_ACCORDING_ACCTYPE=ON at the beginning of your script.

In the following example, the memberset command is selecting data for revenue and cost and then writing the result to retained earnings. If the sign flip setting is ON, the correct value (40) is written to retained earnings.

Advanced Formula - Sign Flip

Advanced Formula - Unbooked Data

In the following example, January data for profit centers PC1/2/3 is being copied to February. By using the Unbooked setting, the existing 500 value for PC4 can either be retained or set to zero (to match the source).

Advanced Formula - Unbooked Data

Syntax and Auto Complete

Auto Complete

As you type, a hint list shows all available functions that match the text you've typed. A short help text description is available for each function. You can use Ctrl+Space to choose from a list of values that are valid for that location in the formula, or type [d/ for a list of valid dimensions and properties to use in the formula.

There are also formula templates for common calculations. If you select a formula from the hint list, a template is automatically entered in the formula entry bar.

Examples of how to use auto-complete:

  • Type M to access the command that start with the letter M.
  • Type [d/ to access the model dimensions.
  • Press Ctrl+Space to access members and parameters.
Examples of how to use auto complete

Script Syntax

  • [ ]: Dimensions, properties, hierarchies are enclosed in square brackets
  • d: Dimension. Example: [d/Cost_Center]
  • p: Property. Example: [d/Account].[p/ElimTarget]
  • h: Hierarchy. Example: [d/Cost_Center].[h/H1], "All_Cost_Centers"))
  • %: Variables. Example: % YearMonth%
  • #: Unassigned. Example: since labor hours aren’t currency related, currency is unassigned:RESULTLOOKUP([d/Account] = "LHours", [d/Currency] = "#")
  • " ": Double quotes are required when specifying dimension members.
  • /: Comments
In an advanced formulas step, you can repeat a group of statements a specified number of times, using the FOR keyword. Employing a BREAK statement inside a FOR loop will allow you to stop the loop when the given condition is met, offering more flexibility.
In the Show option in the Script tab, you can turn Auto Complete off.

For more syntax options, to the reference guide: Advanced Formulas Reference Guide

Formula Options

Formula Options

When you create an advanced formula, you have 5 options.

  1. Calculation will create an equation such as Target = Expression
    • A calculation is divided into two parts: Target and Source:
    • Target is the data range to which you plan to write data.
    • Source is the data involved in the calculation.
    Calculation formula example
  2. Delete will prompt for a filter upon which to identify which cost center to delete, for example.Delete formula option
  3. Repeat (loop) will prompt for a dimension to loop over, and then you can add a calculation, for example.Repeat formula option

    For example, calculate revenue amount with a 10% increase over the previous month:

    Code snippet
    MEMBERSET [d/Date] = (BASEMEMBER([d/Date].[h/YQM], "[2024]"))
    MEMBERSET [d/Measures] = ("Amount")
    MEMBERSET [d/Account] = ("Revenue")
    FOREACH [d/Date]
    Data() = ResultLookup([d/Date]=PREVIOUS(1)) * 1.1
  4. Comment creates an input field for explanations. Comment formula option
  5. Condition will prompt for a filter upon which to create the if statement, and then you can add a calculation.Condition formula option

    For example, if the company = US, then copy prior year data to the current year data +10%.

    Code snippet
    MEMBERSET [d/Date] = (BASEMEMBER([d/Date].[h/YQM], "[2024]"))
    MEMBERSET [d/Measures] = ("Amount")
    MEMBERSET [d/Account] = ("Revenue")
    IF [d/Company] = "US" THEN
    DATA() = RESULTLOOKUP([d/Date] = Previous(12)) * 1.1

In the previous examples, you can see how the system creates formulas depending on which option you pick. Each one generates code that you can view in the script dialog. In the following example, you can see an example of a Calculate Labor formula in the Visual Editor.

Calculate Labor Formula as an example

Editing Options

There are four editing options, when you hover over the formula:

  1. Duplicate
  2. Annotate
  3. Comment out
  4. Delete

Using Scripts to Write Advanced Formulas

When using script to write advanced formulas, keep the following in mind:

  1. Each line of instruction inherits the calculation results of previous lines of instructions.
  2. Advanced formulas perform all calculations only with leaf-level members that don’t have any account formulas defined.
  3. In a RESULTLOOKUP function, the function considers the most detailed values in the dataset, even if the formula doesn't specify them. For example, consider the following record set:
    QuantitySparkling WaterRegionDec.2018210 (aggregate of all countries)
    QuantitySparkling WaterGermanyDec.201850
    QuantitySparkling WaterFranceDec.201870
    QuantitySparkling WaterUKDec.201890

    You write a formula to add 20 to the Quantity Values for December 2018 and write the new values to January 2019:

    MEMBERSET[d/Product]="Sparkling Water" MEMBERSET[d/Account]="Quantity" DATA([d/Date]="Jan.2019")=RESULTLOOKUP([d/Date]="Dec.2018")+20

    The final result will add 20 to each detailed Entity value, not to the aggregated Region value:

    QuantitySparkling WaterRegionJan.2019270 (aggregate of all countries)
    QuantitySparkling WaterGermanyJan.201970
    QuantitySparkling WaterFranceJan.201990
    QuantitySparkling WaterUKJan.2019110
  4. A null value is treated as a non-existent value, while 0 is treated as an actual number. If the RESULTLOOKUP function returns a null value, advanced formulas do nothing.
  5. Advanced formulas basically work with the fact record-set of the model. If you don't specify other dimension information and members via the MEMBERSET definition, the advanced formulas will take all members from the dimensions in the model.
In an advanced formulas step, you can repeat a group of statements a specified number of times, using the FOR keyword. Employing a BREAK statement inside a FOR loop will allow you to stop the loop when the given condition is met, offering more flexibility.

Use the Visual and Script Editors to Create the Advanced Formula Action

Scenario: Calculating Labor and Benefit with an Advanced Data Action

As part of the 2025 Forecast Income Statement for ABC Corporation, Jen must calculate the labor and benefits.

Business Scenario

You are a member of the planning team at ABC Corporation and you are responsible for creating and configuring data actions.

Before Jen can run the data action, you must create and test an advanced formula data action using the visual editor as well as the script editor. The benefits rate will be entered when Jen runs the data action.

What skills will you develop in this practice exercise?

In this practice exercise, you will:

  • Create the advanced formula to calculate benefits
  • Run the data action from the story

Log in to track your progress & complete quizzes