SAP Data Services Review

Has a convenient dashboard and good data integration

What is our primary use case?

I’m not an SAP consultant but I have quite a long experience with SAP projects. I've been working in IT for 20 years (HP Services / DXC) and I have a lot of contacts with SAP customers so my opinion is based rather on my experience of real SAP implementations not based on a deep knowledge of SAP technology abilities. I’m a business consultant technology agnostic and very often my customers asking me for advice in the scope of a transformation of their IT environment.

Most of our customers are dealing with a huge amount of data so we usually apply the solution to enterprise companies that have SAP technology and they are usually SAP customers. It's not separate analytics that can be applied to another ERP system. 

Usually, between five and 10% of employees in a particular company will be using the solution, it will be slightly higher when the solution is applied in the retail sector. It really depends on the company. Some are based on IT technology and others provide a more operational or production base. In these companies, there is a utilization of analytics. It strongly depends on the company's activities. 

What is most valuable?

The HANA database, which is very fast, is a valuable feature. I think it's very useful and gives the customer a lot of options. I like the dashboard, it's very convenient. 

What needs improvement?

Integration with other products could be improved. Often we need to apply analytics for the data coming directly from production. The product could be improved by providing employees with a more simplified ability to build reports.

SAP is a very powerful system and definitely first class for big companies. Its wide scope of functionality and models adjusted to different business activities give SAP a leading position within extended ERP systems. From the other side, such a wide range of modules and functionality generates difficulties in implementation and real full utilization of all system possibilities. An example of this is with my last customer that I discussed with two weeks ago – one of the biggest logistics and retail companies in Poland. They implemented SAP seven years ago. They bought a wide scope of modules with some logistic extensions and up to now, they pay very expensive maintenance for licenses. In reality, they didn’t implement SAP in the scope of owned licenses because they finally find the system too inflexible to adopt applications to their business processes. As a result, they utilize core ERP, HR, BW and a small portion of APO while the rest of the modules that are not implemented are exchanged with Z programs. A very strong point is BW but for quick reporting and report personalization (BI) they bought other technology due to more flexible and chipper reporting. They integrated SAP with TMS, WMS, and core operating systems for their special business and have a big problem with maintaining a lot of interfaces (they didn’t implement SAP PI).

Now the customer is thinking about migration to Dynamics and evaluating this scenario in different aspects. An upgrade of the old SAP version means total reimplementation of the SAP to S4. Now SAP offers a very wide range of retail and logistic functionality especially in S4 but to buy all retail and logistic modules, customers evaluate as very expensive and are afraid about the ability to implement.

This is not the only example. A very similar situation was with another customer with an older SAP version. Especially for production companies, SAP is evaluated as a system that is very difficult to implement within the production environment. Implementation with MES generates lot of analytical effort (technical part is not a problem but way of data enquiry by SAP).

From my experience in SAP implementation, I am often irritated by very selective knowledge of SAP implementation consultants and it’s not only from my company but generally taking into consideration SAP services market. Usually, a consultant knows one module, sometimes 2 or 3 but to cover business area eg. retail and logistic you need a few of them and this is the reason that very often customers implement system functions (within every module) not implement process flow (cross modules view).

In the case of analytics, SAP offers great tools (especially HANA gives very powerful tools) but many customers decide to use SAP BW but chose BI from other technologies taking into consideration ratio functionality, flexibility, and price.

This is my personal opinion, mainly based on my experience with SAP customers and real SAP implementation. SAP is a best in class system but requires a very good implementation team (which is expensive) and a reasonable time frame (time is expensive too), to maximize its potential but in other cases, implementation can be unsuccessful regardless of technological system abilities.

How are customer service and technical support?

I think the technical support is good enough. 

How was the initial setup?

Initial setup is rather complex. SAP Analytics requires integration with the rest of SAP models. We are the final link in the chain of implementation of SAP technology so some customers could do with external assistance. It really depends on the client's internal culture and skills. It helps to have a consultant and in some cases it's crucial. 

What other advice do I have?

Many customers want to apply additional tools that are connected and integrated with SAP Analytics. It gives them more flexibility in building some reports. In some cases, we would still require an additional appliance, some additional tools to fulfill the needs of our customers.

I would rate this solution an eight out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

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