SAP Analytics Cloud Review

Enables us to allocate, spread, and distribute actual figures

What is our primary use case?

My VP asked me to work with my plan number to figure out how to increase and support our sales region. On the planning admin, I created a model and then imported actual and forecasted data. From that, I was able to determine the variance. We managed to plan this with small amounts of data. 

We created a planning model and enabled it to make a planning checkmark that works with the time category in the tab dimension, in order to bring it down to the lowest granularity, by month, start date, and end date. 

We created an organization dimension. A responsible person to monitor each region is required. Then you can drag and drop the region hierarchy from the parent.

Then, we worked on the calculated numbers, for example, the gross margin, which was the total revenue minus COGS. We then divided that number by total revenue times one hundred. From there, we could pull the data from the file and select source actuality to validate it. 

We performed all of this using SAP Analytics Cloud.

How has it helped my organization?

In the most recent release, the schedule publication was officially updated and it's been added on MS Office 365. I like how we had an EPM for B to C perspective; it's a great enhancement. Also, I believe the B to B connectivity has been improved. Android support for mobile is really good also. Power BI has always had android support in place, so manual support for SAP Analytics Cloud is also a very good feature.

Smart Insights have also been enhanced, especially in regards to the Stories.

Apart from that, I would like to see more data-handling enhancement. Smart planning can give us immediate results.  When we come to analytics, If we could get more enhancement, we could probably completely skip the data warehousing concepts. This would be a big improvement.

With all of the new updates, now we can combine different types of data together and give our customers a full picture. 

I am happy with the new release that is coming out. It's comparatively a little slower than the version we had from 2019-2020; however, the enhancements they have added are much better than previous versions.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is that we can allocate, spread, and distribute the actual figures.

What needs improvement?

The cost is an area that could be improved. I also think that Ofice 365 should be incorporated. People would find it to be more user-friendly with Office 365 integrated. Flat file integration can be a distinguishing factor.

Custom visuals is another area of improvement. There are also some mobile features that are missing. There are features that aren't available on the mobile. 

There should also be better connectivity tools for HANA and Success Factors. They have minimal visualization relations and they have the third-party add-ins.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using this solution for the past six months.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We have 300-plus Stories that we already had in the system, that we had to do performance tuning. I brought it down to 267, to be exact. We had over 302 dashboards and then we brought it down to 111 stories on 267 visualizations. When we have too many pages, the performance gets impacted a little on the initialization part. When we open the story, it takes a little bit of time because it's not on-premise. Because our clients are based in the Netherlands and we are based in Bangalore, we had to manage the different time zones, and the business hours are different. We had to find out during the peak business hour how the SSE behaves.

We found that in the peak business hours it does slow down a little bit, considering the internet speed and everything. We did take everything into account. Then we checked the performance and the data also. In order to be competitive with the other software in the market, a little enhancement in this part also would give the upper hand compared to other BI tools.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We used to go in a cognitive window wherein we don't have any caches in place, so that we could get an accurate picture of the performance. But we also want to reduce the number of filters, and then we want to do more slicing and dicing across the data and try to see how it improves. In the near future, we would try to test the data more.

It performs quite well. Custom visuals would definitely help us to improve a little more. 

There are more viewer licenses. We have got close to 130 users for Analytics Cloud. And for developer access, for read and write, at our location we have around six plus two for planning, altogether 11 to 12 licenses. 

We have BW HANA. So we have only four developers as of now. We used it more extensively before the pandemic but not as much now. We do have plans to increase usage in the near future. 

How are customer service and technical support?

The technical support is quite good. Any time there is a new release and we have any issues, we connect with the technical support team and then go ahead and write about it in a blog so that the other users can also get help for similar issues. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We previously used Cognos Analytics and Tableau. I've done a couple of POCs on Tableau and worked on micro-strategy. We switched to SAP Analytics Cloud primarily for the planning, development, and the user-friendliness. When SAP comes up with a solution, they definitely try to be up to market. The features were not in a premature stage. We had faith that SAP had enhanced features compared to other BI tools.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty easy. It was also easy for my team. They thought it was easy to install. There's no download, there was no complexity.

What about the implementation team?

We do the maintenance for it because we know the ins and outs of the development. We also do the admin.

What other advice do I have?

If you are new to SSE and are trying to implement SSE in your project, don't think that SSE is an SAP product. Look into the features because I am sure you'll be satisfied with the features. They come out with the releases. I go into the release notes to understand what are the enhancements are. This will make it easier to understand. 

If you have somebody who isn't as experienced with BI, even that person can still learn SSE and can cope up with the BI requirements. In India, if you want to be a BI compatible, you have to have at least three years' experience so that you can understand all of the data warehousing concepts, and EDL. With SSE, learning is very smooth and easy.

I would rate it a nine out of ten. 

The missing point would be because of the performance. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Public Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

Amazon Web Services (AWS)
**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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