System Review and Recommendation
In preparation for starting an SAP Analytics or EPM engagement, one of the very first steps is to understand the technical landscape readiness. And of course the reason for this being an early step is that the procurement and preparation cycles at most companies are such that the time to ready to hardware / software can exceed the start window for the project.
In a VantagePoint SAP EPM system review, we assess the gap between current state systems and vendor provided technical requirements. We work through the layout of your landscape (3 tier / 4 tier, physical or virtual). We perform a sizing exercise to help determine the right hardware volume for on-premise solutions, or cloud-bundle for a SaaS/hosted solution.
We also lay out a project plan that defines the key timeline and resource requirements to prepare the infrastructure on which the solution will run.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, EPM is as much an ART as it is SCIENCE. Technologists HATE to hear that. But in our experience, it is a truth. So, the installation of SAP EPM software is best achieved by a specialist in EPM software. Again, an SAP BASIS resource may manage your BW install just fine. But, EPM is a unique animal with distinct parameters to be set based on environment and business purpose.
Historically, a handful of resources have supported the majority of SAP EPM installations. These folks were typically pooled in specialty firms, engaged by the multiple EPM vendors for this specific tasks. Given VantagePoint’s long history with the SAP EPM product suite, we certainly have relationships with those resources. And we’ve brought some in-house as well.
Our installation methodology is a shared-responsibility model. Our goal is to install an initial environment ourselves upfront. This lets us work through the settings required by your environment. Throughout, we are documenting and taking screen captures of selections / settings.
Then, we collaboratively work with our client’s infrastructure team to install a second environment, using our documentation as a working guide. Thus empowered, your team is able to install the software on subsequent landscapes, thereby giving you more administrative knowledge while also being mindful of cost.
We work to establish the appropriate connection points between operating system, source data systems, ETL processes and tools, data mart / data warehouse strategies, EPM tools, and finally, end user interfaces.
When confronted with system performance issues, many of our customers are laser-focused on the technical aspects of the SAP Analytics product. And while there are certainly opportunities there to improve speed of response, speed of processing, the reality is that much of an OLAP system’s performance issues are related to design; be it model and dimension design, or data load or template design that is trying to move too much data in a non-optimized construct.
That is why VantagePoint always engages both a technical and a functional consultant on our System Reviews.
Frankly, there are four key areas that represent points of failure in a BPC system:
- Operating system setup
- Database / application settings
- Network considerations
- Model / object design
The first four of these are addressed by a technical specialist. VantagePoint employs only highly experience technicians with years of experience in the SAP EPM and Analytics space. This stuff is unique in the industry and we find that technology generalist, even SAP technologists with backgrounds in ERP or BW do not fully understand the distinct parameter optimizations of an EPM solution.
And of course, the final area of optimization is related to the EPM model and object design. Frankly, the solution design drives well more than 50% of the performance optimization opportunities. As the design of these objects is a function of A) software capabilities, B) best practice methodologies, and C) client functional requirements, VantagePoint utilizes experienced senior functional consultants to perform the optimization of the SAP EPM models.
Performance Optimization is a regular part of our SAP EPM solution implementations. We also offer Performance Optimization services as part of our Healthcheck Assessment.