SAS Activity-Based Management Review
OLAP data extraction and export is a valuable feature but the drilling function needs to be brought back.


Valuable Features

SAS Activity Based Management (ABM):

  • OLAP drilling function with chart/ graphs (available on version 6.2 but removed in version 6.4): this function helps in presentation preparation
  • OLAP data extraction and export
  • Able to trace back the various stages of allocation performed (i.e cost object module can trace all the way back from multiple allocations done in activity/ resource module)

SAS EG (Enterprise Guide): allow users to build query and perform ETL without the need to write SQL codes. Very useful software if the user has been trained well to use the software.

Improvements to My Organization

ABM:

  • We use ABM as an expense allocation model and it has improve the awareness and accountability of the cost incurred (due to the 'traceability' feature as mentioned in no.4 above).
  • We are able to run and refresh the expense allocation result based on monthly source data (Driver Quantity) to derive more accurate data for reporting. (We are aware that many other organisations are using excel spreadsheet to perform their allocation and it has very much restricted the frequency and complexity of the allocation that they can be performed).

EG has helped to handle huge database ETL which definitely improve efficiency.

Room for Improvement

I am hoping the 'drilling with graph function' (as mentioned in above) can be brought back in the updated version.

Use of Solution

I've been using ABM alongside EG (I would rate it as 7.5/10) from 2006 to 20114 (about eight years) but I have been using it less frequently since 2011 due a to a change in job scope.

Deployment Issues

The organisation that I work for is a financial institution and hence has very tight IT security policy. We encountered issues once in a while after the security patches are run (to tighten the security) and it requires support from the vendor to come in and work with our IT department to resolve it. I think it is better to have dedicated IT support personnel in the organisation (rather than support by general IT staff) as ABM is rather a unique product and the maintenance (i.e the setup of new user) requires special procedures.

Stability Issues

We used to encounter performance issues when running huge database or extracting huge database from OLAP. I am not sure whether it has been resolved.

Scalability Issues

We experienced severe performance issues when the models created are getting more details and becoming more complex. The 'calculation' task takes a long time to run and sometimes the job just 'died' at the server. However, it should be resolved by ensuring to allocate good capacity to house the ABM software, especially if you want to create a few models and running/refresh them at about the same time (reporting period).

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer Service:

I would give a rating of 6/10 as some of the questions/issues we posted are still not resolved (especially since we upgraded SAS ABM to version 6.4).

Technical Support:

Local technical support is good and I would give a rating of 7/10.

Pricing, Setup Cost and Licensing

I am not sure about the setup cost but our annual maintenance fee is around Malaysian Ringgit 10k (charges based on number of users).

Other Advice

I can't give much advice on the implementation of this product because I was not involved during that stage. However, I think extensive UAT and training should be the crucial part to ensure smooth transition and maximize usage by users. It can be difficult and confusing to use the OLAP drilling function but it is very useful if user able to gain an understanding on it.

Another point is to ensure allocation of good capacity server to host this software if the data involved is huge, else performance will be an issue.

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

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