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Shababna M Ilahi
S4 MBA(FT),Roll No:41 School of Management Studies, CUSAT,Kochi-22 E-Mail:shababna.m.ilahi@gmail.com
Abstract: In the fiercely increasing competition amongst corporations it has become mandatory to make quick and sound crucial business decisions based on analysis of business critical data. This is the point where data warehouses come into play. Although many companies are relying on data warehouses, they are still struggling to achieve positive results due to fragmented and inconsistent data. For them SAP’s Business Information Warehouse (BW) provides a complete information factory solution. BW is the central component in the SAP suite of applications with an added advantage of being a software package that can be used in both SAP and non-SAP environments. This paper deals with BW and ERP Key Words: BI, BW, ERP

In today’s dynamic business scenario, organizations require tools that facilitate rapid conversion of information into analysis, and analysis into action; thereby allowing them to gain competitive advantage in the market place. Organizations that have set up effective systems, to aggregate, store and retrieve data, possess a distinct competitive edge over those who have not. In today’s intensively competitive global business market, understanding and managing enterprise wide information is crucial for timely decision making and responding to rapidly changing business conditions. Companies generate a tremendous amount of data through day-to-day operations. Additionally, data is available from external sources such as market research agencies, independent surveys and quality testing labs. Studies indicate that the amount of data in a given organization doubles every five years. Until recently, organizations followed the traditional practice of storing data by department or by location – usually on different systems. With the arrival of new technologies, organizations are merging departmental databases at an enterprise wide level. This enables them to gain insight into all aspects of their business across departments and geographies. Monitoring their value chains, equips businesses to respond to

they offer a complete development environment to extend these products. or a goal for the future. The key success factor in this process is the accuracy and completeness of the information source. Organizations realize that their survival and growth in the market place is based on the speed at which they can process data to make an informed business decision. Effective implementation of BI enables a company to:       Streamline operations Take prompt decisions Go to Market faster more effectively Develop new products rapidly Realize value from existing product lines Enhance customer satisfaction Thus. strengthen customer relationships and improve the bottom line. 2. This access is in turn achieved by timely and correct insight into business conditions. Business Intelligence is a method of ensuring an organization has control over the information that it generates.changes in market conditions. Almost all organizations undertake this type of performance tracking— called Business Performance Measurement (BPM). implementing BI successfully ensures that the company improves its bottom line. These standard applications offer robust technology. Information is at the core of BW SAP. . vision and architecture that allows an organization to fine tune its processes and operations so that it can attain strategic business goals. BW SAP provides an information infrastructure that allows an organization to store and manage data. finance. thereby providing end-to-end support to the organization – from planning to projections. Corporate Data Repositories or Data Warehouses allow enterprises to analyze data. Data warehousing has merged as a key resource for organizations that have implemented ERP and are now revamping their legacy DW applications by replacing them with standard DW application suites. profitability. streamline processes. improve operations. seamless integration with backend ERPs and Industry specific reporting. costs. organizations have easy access to information on which they can base decisions. Business Intelligence is an evolving strategy. markets and customers. return on investment (ROI). Usually companies measure Business Performance on various parameters such as revenue.0 NEED FOR BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE Control on large repositories of data and the ability to analyze them rapidly plays a key role in the process of business decision making. a target for success. movement of products. With the implementation of BI. Furthermore. SAP BW is the market leader in business intelligence tools and works seamlessly with existing systems in the organization. Business Intelligence enables organizations to monitor and measure business performance in order to establish an indication of current activity. So as stated earlier at the core of BI is information and systems and architecture that allow management to use this information for business actions. This entire process is called Business Intelligence.

It is an end-to-end data warehouse solution that allows rapid access to data from SAP systems. controlling and decision-making.OLAP (online analytical processing) is a technology that enables BPM analysis and reporting. SAP BW is the only product available on the market that meets all these requirements. thereby facilitating informed and just in time business decisions. In a nutshell.0 SAP BW To ensure business success organizations have to assimilate and absorb data coming in from different sources. They look for a solution that allows managers to pick up trends and new business opportunities almost immediately. However. OLAP allows management to receive information in a business management format. SAP BW provides the user meaningful information. data marts. This information is stored the way businesses are organized—either departmentally or by region. increase the ROI.1 EVALUATION OF SAP BW The first wave of data warehousing that emerged around Legacy systems encountered a number of . SAP BW serves as a key organization-wide information center. Organizations look for a BI solution that includes sophisticated OLAP functionalities that enables effective utilization of data to derive maximum value. SAP BW extracts data from across the organization and converts it into a information that is used in enterprise wide planning. almost instantaneously for business gains. Additionally it also contains an operational data store (ODS). It is anticipated that implementation of such a system will reduce their costs. Many organizations have built data warehouses to do that. other enterprise applications. SAP BW comes with predefined InfoCubes that cut down time for implementation. Companies want a one-stop solution for their data warehousing and processing. SAP BW is a solution that helps organizations come to grip with their data– that they can store. It provides a flexible foundation for advanced data analysis and provides the flexibility so that different levels within the organization can utilize the system effectively for their own business needs. These data warehouses store data and provide tools to interpret data into meaningful information. SAP BW also provides for an organizational view on information. many organizations that have put in place a data warehouse are struggling to achieve their business performance targets – primarily because of the inconsistent nature of data across the organization. and also the complexity of tools used to analyze the data. This extracted data is stored in multi dimensional data stores known as InfoCubes that are designed to fulfill real world business information and reporting needs of managers. analyze and use. and from external sources. While organizations can build their own InfoCubes. and decision support systems. 3. Developed with established business know-how and advanced data warehouse technology. 3. This solution called the Corporate Information Factory (CIF) is made up applications running on top of data stored in a data warehouse. and most importantly make better business decisions. OLAP. OLAP systems store and access data as dimensions and measures that represent key business factors. SAP BW extracts data from across the enterprise to be able to provide the end user with Business Content. By providing a solution that is based on the end user’s requirement for value-based information.

SAP BW can be smoothly integrated into the existing IT environment. both in-house and external. Data is extracted. There is no need to spend long and expensive man- . loaded and aggregated in accordance with organization’s individual business processes and presented in a user-friendly and flexible form tailored to the needs of it’s users. One major obstacle has been gearing the warehouse to changing business processes of the organization. making use of R/3™s openness. that can be found in the R/3 system. but do not provide the means for knowledge workers to act immediately upon the insight they gain. It is a ready-to go solution built on the firm foundations of R/3. By creating a system for the collection of data from operational applications and the provision of information to knowledge workers in a form that is comprehensive. to leverage the existing strengths of the business and IT environment. but by no means limited to R/3. The need for rapid access to accurate business information has never been so acute. Additionally the system needs to be flexible and can be easily adapted in a changing market. they fail to “close the loop”. Moreover. In other words. By enabling decision-makers to act immediately on the information they obtain by using analytical applications to “close the loop” back to operational applications. creating a patchwork rather than a homogeneous. SAP BW has achieved this:  By integrating business processes to create a comprehensive. One of the major drawbacks of conventional data warehousing tools is the lack of seamless integration with backend ERP systems. Moreover. By building an information warehouse on the established foundations of business processes and the IT environment that supports those processes. taking months and sometimes even years to achieve viable results. With this in mind. By implementing data warehouse capabilities quickly. BW is based on an organization’s business processes. comprehensive solution. By ensuring openness with regard to many types of information sources. the challenge has been to build a data warehouse that serves an organization’s information needs that can be implemented rapidly and cost effectively and is easy to use and maintain. It allows for the rapid and user-friendly delivery of business content to planners and decision-makers at all levels of the company. These included technical integration as well as laborious and lengthy implementation processes. The SAP BW guarantees the enterprise-wide availability of meaningful information. higher productivity. most systems simply deliver information. reliable and timely. that guarantees effective workflow. integration and meta-data concepts to provide the organization with a much more efficient and illuminating view of your data. efficiently and across the entire enterprise for a rapid return on investment. Data warehousing projects are often lengthy and expensive. data warehousing has often entailed the cumbersome combination of many different tools and techniques. homogeneous      environment. Yet many companies are wary of the costs and drawbacks of many conventional data warehousing systems. It has often been difficult if not impossible.difficulties. greater efficiency and lower costs. and to diverse analysis and reporting tools.

Data can be accessed easily and the warehouse can be managed and modified with the click of a mouse. material and destination country stored in BW as Info objects. 3) Analysis and access services layer. The SAP BW is pre-configured for R/3 environments. 2) Storage services layer. The BW product is designed to store all business-critical information contained in the R/3 OLTP (online transaction processing) system and other non-SAP systems in a form that is easy to access and analyze using the BW client tools. Administration services. and it provides you views up-to-the-minute facts and figures from a wide variety of perspectives. and there is no need to cobble together diverse reporting tools. Metadata services.2 SAP BW Info Cubes SAP’s BW is based on "Enhanced Star schema" or "Info Cubes" database design. 4. but at the same time remains open to thirdparty data sources and analysis software. that can be customized to you’re an organization’s unique needs.for both the end-user and the administrator. Loading and Transformation (ELT) services layer. These dimension tables contain references to the pointer tables that point to the master data tables which in turn contain Master data objects such as customer. An Info Objects can contain single field definitions such as transaction data or complex Customer Master Data that hold attributes. which provides access to the information stored in 4) Presentation services layer. It is user-friendly . SAP’s BW has following layers: 1) Extraction. 4. It includes pre-designed reports.0 OVERVIEW OF SAP BW Information is at the core of SAP BW. The database design used to meet these objectives is an "Enhanced Star Schema" or "InfoCube" (the data against which the end user runs queries). hierarchy and customer texts that are stored in their own tables. An architecture that allows data from various systems to be extracted seamlessly and powerful OLAP tools that converts this data into Business Content. This database design has a central database table. which offers different options for presenting information to end 5) 6) users.days coding extraction routines. known as ‘Fact Table’ which is surrounded by associated dimension tables. .1 Components of BW architecture SAP BW is based on integrated metadata concept with metadata being managed by metadata services. SAP BW. with services for storing and archiving information. 4.

the progress of the last N requests through each stage of extraction and load is displayed. This is achieved by either scheduling single processes independently or defining process chains for complex network of jobs required to update the information available in the SAP BW system. and an alarm is triggered if any Info Package run from any Info Source fails. adding. InfoPackages are tools for organizing data requests that are extracted from the source system and are loaded into the BW system. avoid resource conflicts by running too many jobs at a time and to take care of logical dependencies between different jobs. The various batch processes in the SAP BW need to be planned to provide timely results. Reporting Agent controls execution of queries in a batch mode to print reports. Although the DBMS underlying the BW system is monitored by the standard software’s for the R/3 functionality but this leaves a gap between the table spaces and table names as they appear at the DBMS level and the BW application level entities to which these objects belong. loading data into the BW is accomplished by using InfoPackages. Modeling Features * Metadata modeling provides a Metadata Repository where all the metadata is stored and a Metadata Manager that handles all the requests for retrieving. Also. or deleting metadata.The complexity of the objects in this design leads to the challenge of maintaining up-to-date and accurate data in all the BW data tables. the step that failed is displayed. . However. These reports allow the user to take an object at the DBMS level and associate it with its application-level entity. These processes are controlled in the scheduler component of AWB. To bridge this gap. Master Data and the ODS to give an overview of the history of requests for the system. In case of any problem in order to enable the administrator to identify the problem the Info Packages are organized on the basis of the object to which they are transporting data. the new BW functionality for R/3 includes reports that place DBMS objects in a BW context. changing. ODS or Master Data. and for any failures. This includes everything from defining the extraction process and implementing transformations to defining flat or multidimensional objects for storage of information. In this way. The overall request status for the object is displayed. the administrator is able to locate the exact position where a failure is going to impact the users and the BW system. With the progress of BW project the number of info packages increases emphasizing the importance of good performance of each info package. * Reporting and scheduling mechanism: Reporting and scheduling are the processes required for the smooth functioning of SAP BW. for Info Cubes. The performance of requests can be monitored by display of performance statistics for each stage of extraction and load in the form of graphs. identify exception conditions and notify users and pre compute results for web templates. 4.Info cube.3 SAP BW Metadata Modelling Metadata modeling: Metadata modeling component is the main entry point for defining the core metadata objects used to support reporting and analysis.

In this the metadata files are loaded by replicating metadata tables and views into the metadatory repository of SAP BW. It interfaces with the AWB scheduler and monitor for scheduling and monitoring data load processes. the ETL services layer of SAP BW provides all the functionality required to load data from non-SAP systems in exactly the same way as it does for data from SAP systems. SAP BW provides flexible capabilities for extracting data directly from RDBMS tables using DB Connect. it provides all the functionality required for loading data from non. Data can also be uploaded from flat files by creating routines for extraction of data and XML files can be extracted through XML via Administrator Workbench in SAP BW. DB connect facilitates extraction directly from DBMS. It is true. The ETL services layer provides open interfaces for loading non-SAP data. IMS and Sybase. It does not support dBase. Microsoft Excel file formats. However. BAPI serves the purpose of connecting third. It also does not support proprietary file formats such as dBase file formats. 4. Storage Service manages and provides access to data targets in SAP BW and the aggregates that are stored in relational and multidimensional database management systems.SAP systems as the ETL services layer provide open interfaces for loading non-SAP data. On the other hand SAP provides an open interface called Staging Business Application Programming Interface (BAPI) to extract data from non-SAP sources. In addition to supporting extractors. Data Extractor fills the extract structure of data source with a data from data source and offers sophisticated handling of changes. On the other hand. Staging engine manages staging process for all data received from several source systems. and XML.tier level: SAP’s ETL service layer provides services for data extraction. that the extraction technology provided as an integral part of SAP BW is restricted to database management systems supported by mySAP technology and that it does not allow extracting data from other database systems like IBM IMS and Sybase. It also serves as the staging area for intermediate data storage for quality assurance purposes. It provides a framework to enable comprehensive data replication based on data extractors that encapsulate the application logic. SAP BW provides three ways to extract data at the database or file level: DB Connect.* Administering ETL service layer in multi. MS Access and MS Excel file formats. flat files and XML. . SAP BW does not in fact distinguish between different types of source systems after data has arrived in the staging area. SAP BW can be integrated with other SAP components based on application programming interface (API) service. Data can be extracted at the database level by using: DB connect. data transformation and loading of data. flat file transfer. The extraction technology of SAP BW is supported by database management systems of mySAP technology and does not allow extraction from other database systems like IBM. However.party ETL tools to SAP BW and provides access to SAP BW objects which facilitates use of customer extraction routines. Microsoft Access file formats.4 SAP BW ETL Fundamentals ETL service comprises of two parts: Staging engine and Storage Service. however. the service APIs also enable online access via RemoteCube technology and flexible staging for hierarchies. and others.

* Interfaces: The data mart interface enables users to transfer and update transactional data and metadata from one SAP BW system to other SAP BW systems. the cost advantages can disappear. . and create the data stovepipes that data warehousing strives to eliminate. increase the amount of inconsistent data. The implementation would involve the following activities:  Determination of DataSources and InfoSources for the Master (InfoObjects) and Transactional (InfoCubes) Data. day-to-day decision making. the data warehouse. A SAP view ODS as a near real-time informational environment that supports operational reporting by interacting with existing transactional systems. SAP BW allows flexible access to data in the ODS. require more business rules. But as data marts proliferate. Multiple data marts can complicate data integration efforts. This is an off-the-shelf solution wherein the organization’s existing business processes are mapped with the data warehouse solution provided by the BIW Business Content. This service controls data distribution and maintains data consistency across systems. and other applications. a data mart can be implemented faster and cheaper than a data warehouse. or analytical applications. You need to weight the pros and cons before developing a data mart. or business area. * Data Marts: A data mart provides the data needed by a decentralized function. however the top down approach is possible as well.1 BOTTOM UP APPROACH In the bottom up approach we begin with the lower level objects provided with the Business Content of the BIW release. department. The IT organization must maintain the individual data marts and the multitude of ETL and warehouse management processes that go with them. and the multidimensional models. 5. * Open Hub Services: The open hub service is used to share data in SAP BW with non-SAP data marts.0 BW IMPLEMENTATION APPROACHES The approach to check relevant business content for your project mainly depends on what type of project you are running.5 SAP BW ETL Components * Operational Data Store: It stores detailed data and supports tactical. 5. If it is R/3 driven or at least R/3 is part of the source systems then the bottom-up approach is recommended. For example. analytical applications. With the open hub service. The feasibility of this approach would depend heavily on the extent of customization carried out on the SAP R/3 system used. data warehouses. sometimes costing 80% less than a full data warehouse.4. actual data and the corresponding metadata are retrieved from InfoCubes or ODS objects.

Scheduling and Monitoring of Delta extraction of data. 5. Determination and Activation of InfoCubes for the related InfoAreas in BIW.  Interview users to gather their Reporting and Analysis requirements. Replication of DataSources in BIW. Training from the user’s perspective. By using Business content organizations make sure that they follow a path that is integrated and covers most of their business processes. Use the above steps iteratively to cover all functional areas and business processes of your organization. This phase would involve data modeling and design phases to create a multidimensional model in BIW to meet user requirements. Initial Extraction (Full upload) of data into BIW. This could for example be the Sales and Distribution Module. Verification of data extracted into BIW. Verification of query results (data in Reports/Workbooks). Implementation and Activation of the pre-configured business content for a specific functional area (activities given above). Enhancement of provided reports according to business needs (If required) Slight customization of Business Content to map to customized business process (If required).        Effectively organizations should always use the business content as a reference and customize it whenever required. Determination of Master Data InfoObjects. Web enabling of queries. The approach would comprise of the following steps. Consequently organizations have to find a method to communicate on an abstract level and then compare this with the existing solution.2 TOP DOWN APPROACH The Top Down approach is a little bit harder since the requirements of the customer do not usually match with the requirement of Standard Business Content.  Implementation of a gap-analysis between the User requirements and provided Business  content.       Generation and Activation of DataSources in SAP R/3. The steps comprising this approach are as follows.  If the requirements do not adhere to the pre-configured content of BIW. Analysis of User comfort with the existing reports and requirement fulfillment by means of interviews.     Selection of the initial area (module) for implementation of BIW. It is the Business content that enables companies to create an enterprise wide warehouse step by step. Go-Live for the functional area. Determination and Activation of InfoObjects for the related InfoAreas in BIW. data model and . In the top down approach we begin with the User requirements.

DataSources will be enhanced or created in the SAP System. The above steps will be iterated through for all customer requirements and functional areas of the organization.1 Figure: SAP BW Database Design .0 ILLUSTARTIONS 6.     design will be prepared conforming to the user requirements. It is recommended to use this approach only when Source Systems other than SAP are being used or if the SAP System is heavily customized. Pre-configured objects will either be modified or new InfoObjects and InfoCubes will be created. The implementation steps (as discussed in the bottom-up approach) will then be followed. As per the modifications or new developments. 6. Training from the user’s perspective.

0 CONCLUSION With the growing network of processes and systems.2 Figure: Analytical View of Business Information Warehouse Model 7.6. In BW automatic assimilation and analysis of information is possible.patni.0 REFERENCES 1.pdf. turnover plan in a sales system and cost center plan in excel) studying interdependencies and coordination among them has become even more tedious. Instead it is essential to have real time analysis and graphical visualization of the key performance indicators.g. BW gives a holistic view of the company by considering both the financial data and non. With BW it is possible to upload data of different planning tools. “SAP Business warehouse”. Downloaded on 29. 8. However for this it is not enough to place a company strategically and give guidelines for its further development. Thus the strategic management system must establish a planning process through all levels of planning in the company to make the data available for all responsible persons in one system. As corporate planning is often not done in one common planning tool (e.11 . the need for efficient management support systems is also increasing. http://www.03. BW can also be used as early warning system to inform the responsible persons about critical indicators on the basis of already defined thresholds of these indicators.com/media/5869/tp_Mfg_SAP-BI-DW. manipulate planning data and write back changed data to the operational system.financial assets of the company. Giriraj Sharma.

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