Update: Since this article was written, SAP has made public more of its Budgeting & Planning roadmap. At this point (3/21/2008), BPC is definitely the way to go if you don’t already have BI-IP implemented. Read more here.
Anyone who has been watching the acquisition activities of SAP and Oracle of late is sure to have their head spinning, and there doesn’t appear to be any pause in the pace either. A couple of weeks back, it was SAP’s assimilation of Business Objects. Right now, it’s Oracle with BEA pinned to a cork board like a bug. All of this activity is a bit unsettling for anyone trying get functionality implemented today since it may mean that the roadmaps for the functions you’re spending cold, hard cash on today are uncertain at best.
We are currently in the process of replacing our in-house developed budgeting system. Being an SAP shop, we’re looking for an SAP solution, or at least one that integrates really well. The trouble is not a dearth of options, but rather too many options under the SAP umbrella. Here’s a quick rundown on what’s available:
- BI-IP (BI Integrated Planning) – a relatively new option with a limited but growing install base – the current generation of SAP based planning
- BPC (Business Planning & Consolidations – here’s a pdf on reporting within BPC) – previously Outlooksoft, a best-of-breed budgeting system that is being folded into the BI landscape – this may be the next generation of SAP planning
- SEM-BPS (Business Planning & Simulation) – a couple of generations back – BPS was replaced by BI-IP
- Good ol’ R/3 based planning – be sure to have a couple of forks nearby to relieve your urge to jam one into your eye if you attempt this
We’ve seen demos of both BI-IP and BPC, and the BI-IP demo had us thoroughly hyped before Outlooksoft came into the picture. It was new, sported some very cool tools like Virtual Composer and Web App Designer, and was the way of the integrated future. Then suddenly, the landscape changes, and now there is Outlooksoft. Significantly less complex than BI-IP, more of an end-user tool, giving Accounting and Finance more self determination with less reliance on IT resources (at least that is the impression I’m given), and a 2-4 month implementation versus a 6-10 month BI-IP implementation. Of course there is additional licensing, but that is expected.
Is SAP-BPC the way of the planning future? There are certainly some very large companies drinking the koolaid, but I’ll let your SAP rep tell you about those.
The good news is that whether we go with BI-IP, BPC, or even BPS, SAP lets dead horses live on for quite a few years before taking them out behind the barn. All the same, this is one little piece of the future I’d like to know (certainly not the one piece I’d pick if I could choose just one , but one that would certainly help me today).
There is too much dust in the air to see clearly where it is all going. And unfortunately, we can’t sit around and wait for it to settle. We must choose and choose wisely. I’ll keep you posted!