SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence Platform Review

Web intelligence is valuable but SAP patch methodology is horrific


What is most valuable?

  • Universe Designer
  • Web Intelligence
  • InfoView

How has it helped my organization?

Able to quickly create and publish reports using WebI. Eliminated most printed reports, they are now emailed or consumed online via InfoView. Has given users the ability to run reports on their own and get the information they need without having to ask IS.

What needs improvement?

Compatibility of Crystal Reports within BOE, especially when using universes and prompts – the prompts are turned into static values, not generated on-the-fly.

Scheduling functions. We have to maintain separate lists and custom apps of report schedules so that we know what’s scheduled when, and who is getting what reports. If a person leaves and is on distribution lists, we have to manually go through and remove/replace them. There is also no easy way to bulk re-schedule reports.

Report documentation must be manually maintained. Can’t EASILY find all reports using field X.

WebI needs a report template function so that basic re-used elements and formatting don’t have to be re-created with every report. Also need to be able to do more with custom SQL and merged dimensions.

SAP patch methodology is horrific, it was much better pre-SAP. As it is now, if you are on 6.1 and report a bug and it gets fixed in 6.2 you update and confirm it’s fixed. Then, a new release comes out and you update but because its cut-off date was prior to the date 6.2 fix, the fix isn’t included! Imagine trying to manage a system if you are waiting for multiple fixes. You can (we did!) end up with a system where major issues were finally fixed but other major problems not fixed and when the outstanding issues were finally resolved, the other previously addressed problems weren’t included in the newer update! It’s a maintenance and tracking headache.

For how long have I used the solution?

Approximately nine years -

BusinessObjects Enterprise 3.1 SP6 (CMC, LCM, WebI, CR, Universe Designer, Business View Manager, InfoView)

(previously used XI R2)

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Original XI R2 install was done by consultants, the install was a disaster and non-functional and we had to completely start over. Tech support walked us through doing it ourselves and we’ve managed it since. Biggest issue of the upgrade to 3.1 was functionality change in WebI merged dimensions, all reports using them broke and had to be re-written. Looked at upgrading to 4.0 over a year ago and installed in a sandbox, but the product did not function out of the box. It required massive reconfiguration of the default settings to run bare bones and there was no upgrade path to multi-source universes. As a result, we haven’t upgraded yet.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

Rarely and was always due to bugs in new SP or FP. Current patch level is very stable.

How are customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

In a word, bad. Account reps constantly change and it’s impossible to find out who your current rep is. Phone calls and emails are not returned. At one point we were interested in buying additional licenses, but no one could/would help us. The licensing renewal process is severely lacking. They sent renewal emails to the wrong people, these are non-IS line staff not even on our account, and we have no idea how they even got their contact information. They refused to accept the PO that our accounting system generated, wanting one specially designed for them. Our purchasing agent, literally took a black sharpie and wrote all over the PO to meet their requirements. Who is the customer? Do they really want to make that sale? It doesn’t seem like it. Maybe we are too small for them to bother with?

Technical Support:

First level support is horrible. I avoid opening cases because of the bad experiences. I would typically find myself explaining very basic product functionality to the support personnel and in the end the response is always that they will consult their resources and get back to you. After going around in circles for days or weeks, the stock response is “it’s working as designed,” yet they can’t explain why. If you are lucky enough to get to higher level support (which is rare), they are very knowledgeable and able to quickly help get to the bottom of issues and find real solutions.

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

No previous solution was used.

What about the implementation team?

Initially a vendor, recommended by BO. They had the product installed multiple times on the server, it was a mess and had to be completely blown away and reinstalled. Since then, we’ve done it in-house.


Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.

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This review communicates real, hands-on experience.