As organizations need to be more agile to run at their best and win in today’s digital economy, enterprise planning has become a strategic imperative. Planning can no longer be done in a silo within the finance function or lines of business. It needs to be collaborative across the enterprise for better alignment and business outcomes.

Over the years, SAP has acquired and developed many different planning “engines.” Most recently, SAP introduced a modern, built-for-the-cloud (SaaS) planning and broader analytics platform called SAP Analytics Cloud. The purpose of this blog is to take a deep dive into SAP’s strategy for enterprise planning for customers who are already using (or considering using) one of SAP’s planning products.

While typically planning is driven by the finance function (for example, financial planning and analysis), everyone across the organization should be involved in planning. SAP Analytics Cloud (introduced as “Cloud for Planning” in 2015) was designed as a modern enterprise planning solution for all types of users (from finance and beyond) that brought planning, BI, and augmented analytics together so everyone has everything they need to make confident decisions at their fingertips.

What’s Different about SAP Analytics Cloud

This is in stark contrast to other traditional corporate or enterprise performance management (“CPM” or “EPM”) tools with limited analytical capabilities, requiring you to use separate BI and predictive tools for reporting and advanced analytics. Recognizing that the market has moved away from the idea of EPM/CPM (in fact, Gartner dropped the use of the term in 2017[1]), and a growing number of organizations are looking for a cloud-based approach to enterprise planning software, SAP Analytics Cloud was built from the start as software-as-a-service (SaaS) as opposed to taking an existing product built for on premise and hosting it in the cloud.

SAP Analytics Cloud is SAP’s recommended solution for organizations looking for a financial planning and analysis (FP&A) solution as well as broader planning across lines of business including HR, marketing, sales, and supply chain, or what we call, “Collaborative Enterprise Planning.”

SAP Analytics Cloud is also embedded within SAP business applications such as SAP S/4HANA to bring planning, analytics, and transactions together in one intelligent financial management suite. The intent is to also embed SAP Analytics Cloud within other SAP business apps so that SAP Analytics Cloud is more than just an application, it’s a planning platform that will help power the Intelligent Suite.

Organizations with complex and advanced sales and operations planning (S&OP) processes, can leverage SAP Analytics Cloud together with the SAP Integrated Business Planning (SAP IBP) app and its best-in-class supply chain planning capabilities. SAP Analytics Cloud and SAP IBP are already integrated so you can use both to run at your best.

On-Premise Solutions for Planning

Some companies may still require an on premise or hosted solution due to regulatory requirements, corporate policy, or customization beyond the scope of a public cloud solution. For these customers, we offer SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) 11, version for SAP BW/4HANA released in 2017 and SAP BPC 11.1, version for SAP BW/4HANA scheduled to be released in Q2 of 2019.

This highly mature and scalable solution is a key part of our Analytics portfolio and provides thousands of customers with the ability to streamline planning, forecasting, consolidation, and reporting processes in one environment.

The support and maintenance schedule for SAP BPC 11.x, version for SAP BW/4HANA is aligned with SAP BW/4HANA’s support and maintenance schedule. SAP BW/4HANA 2.0 mainstream maintenance is planned for five years currently, until 2024. SAP generally plans that follow-on releases to SAP BW/4HANA 2.0 will have approximately five years of mainstream maintenance dependent on the market environment (click here for more details).

Customers often ask, “What happens after ‘end of mainstream maintenance’?”  While we strongly suggest customers align with our strategic solutions (see above), products are available to be placed in “Customer-specific maintenance,” or “Priority-one support,” details for which are available here.

Enterprise Planning for the Intelligent Enterprise

In closing, we strongly encourage customers to consider the following options for enterprise planning.

Customers should consider SAP Analytics Cloud for any or all of the following:

  • Cloud-first strategy
  • Planning-only requirements (no legal consolidations)
  • Collaborative enterprise planning (integration with various SAP and non-SAP data sources) for a holistic view of the business
  • Integration with SAP S/4HANA for seamless data and master data integration

Customers should consider SAP Business Planning & Consolidation 11, version for SAP BW/4HANA for:

  • Unified planning AND consolidation (one solution for both)
  • On-premise deployment (though available for hosting easily with various hosting providers)
  • Have a data warehouse-based strategy (majority of planning data stored in SAP BW/4HANA)

Organizations looking for a best-in-class supply chain planning application, especially those with complex and advanced S&OP and production planning requirements, should consider SAP Integrated Business Planning (SAP IBP) and use together with SAP Analytics Cloud for collaborative enterprise planning.

[1] Gartner, “Back to Basics: The Refocusing of Corporate Performance Management,” John E. Van Decker, Nigel Rayner, Christopher Iervolino, 31 October 2017.