What is the future roadmap for SAP BPC?

This article directly follows the blog “Where does SAP BPC sit in a future EPM deployment roadmap?” written by Simon Bell, last week. This explained where SAP BPC came from, discussed how it fits in with SAP’s future cloud strategy and explored ways it could align, overlap or play a part in the journey towards an organisation’s own future financial reporting and planning needs. As a mature and well-established solution, companies in all markets around the world use SAP BPC for planning analysis, financial reporting consolidation or gain the synergy of having both functions in one application.

Organisation’s long-term plans will consider future business needs and try to determine what their application landscape might be. SAP users will have decided or will be considering the significant investment and transition towards an S/4HANA homogeneous environment. SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC)” will likely be considered for any future analytics requirements and those with an S/4HANA future, will also be considering “S/4HANA Group Reporting” for any consolidation needs. SAP BPC might be required as the steppingstone, or functionality overlay towards either product.

Many companies use their BPC system to play an essential role in their financial operations and reporting cycles, which is often a mandatory compliance matter that needs a robust transition plan to any new application(s). Whatever the future landscape might look like, users face challenges with how to move from where they are today to where they need to be in 5-10 years. The road map on how to get there may also involve multiple stages and require steps along the way.

SAP BPC as a mature product was originally an on-premises only solution that has only in the last few years also been offered with other private/public cloud and ‘software as a service’ options. This article looks at the managed services and deployment choices available to help users consider what might be best for them as they move from their situation today to their future.

Need another refresh cycle? how does it fit with the 'big picture'?

If the organisation’s long-term plan spans several years, IT managers could be presented with interim challenges to ensure applications are reliably available to their business users. If required for more years than originally planned, this could present ‘end of life’ complications for the equipment hosting the system, maintenance/support difficulties and face diminishing available expertise. Furthermore, the business must evaluate the short term needs in the context of the longer-term goals with careful consideration to not jeopardise essential services, yet not waste time and resources or commit to any long-term measures that do not align with their future goals. Consequently, many users need to extend the life of their BPC system for many more years to come but will be looking at alternatives to the traditional five-year renewal plan.

For example, if the client currently hosts their SAP applications on-premises, the equipment running these are likely to be commercially viable and reliable for around five years. Any periods beyond this date, will need consideration to how to extend service and will require an application hosting/service plan. This will be developed within the context of governing factors that could include:

  • The wider SAP landscape and plans of S/4HANA.
  • Organisation’s on-premises, hybrid and multi-cloud strategy.
  • Objectives to move to consume software on a subscription model.
  • Desire to keep applications in-house for DevOps.
  • Capabilities available to support multiple platforms, databases and technologies.
  • Ability to use 3rd partner services to support or optimise environments.
  • Policies for using Managed Service Providers for core and non-core needs.
  • Business Application streamlining goals.

Users that plan to move the entire business to S/4HANA in a few years, will have no appetite or desire to invest in the costs and efforts required to deploy brand-new infrastructure to support pre-HANA apps that will become completely redundant when they do move to HANA. S/4HANA systems cannot be run on any pre-HANA hardware so any uncertainty or potential delays to timescales will present additional challenges. Based on the company’s preferences and policies to the above will help shape next steps.

Next steps available for SAP BPC

SAP BPC is widely adopted in organisations in different formats, technologies and databases. Versions used today operate with databases SAP BW/4HANA, SAP BW NetWeaver and Microsoft SQL. In addition to rehosting decisions, users may also need to consider application related factors to determine the best next step.

Most SAP users currently host on-premises with a long-term goal to streamline their applications to a more manageable number and move to a subscription model and consume software as a service (SaaS) where possible. However, the road to get there may be unfamiliar or difficult to navigate. The plan may involve and require future application upgrades, move to newer databases, require the commercial flexibility of cloud or may require more effective use of managed service providers. Once the way forward is clear, budgets, internal resources and skills should be assessed to determine what assistance they need from specialist partners to oversee or manage any migrations, upgrades or operational maintenance along the way.

Running and supporting applications on-prem requires considerable effort and as the complexity of the technology and solutions increase so do the challenges faced by the IT teams. Overburdened with managing too many systems and under pressure to reduce costs yet keep on top of risks of, IT departments should consider all their options. There are now many different deployment and managed services available for BPC and organisations are able to choose the right one for them. Available options are:

  1. Do nothing, i.e. continue to use the SAP BPC system beyond the maintenance period and risk the impacts of H/W failures or potential issues unsupported S/W or F/W.
  2. Renew the current arrangements (equipment refresh, commission new system, support contract renewal, etc)
  3. ‘Lift and shift ‘to a new cloud infrastructure service with flexible commercial terms.
  4. Migrate to an SAP Platform service to keep a self-managed application without the costs and hassles of managing the cloud and SAP middleware elements below.
  5. Switch to an SAP MSP fully managed service offering that could initially be on-prem then move to cloud when appropriate.
  6. Move to a full Software as Service (SaaS) option and consume BPC on a subscription model from a SAP Partner Managed Cloud (PMC) Provider.

Option 1 would never be recommended in isolation and may only be acceptable for short periods where other systems or plans are in place to protect the availability of any essential business processes. No opinion is provided here on the other options. The suitability of these will be dependent on the companies in house skills, available resources, particular security requirement, budgets, policy for Cap-ex versus Op-Ex, needs for supporting remote workers and other governing factors outlined in the previous section.

SAP BPC managed service benefits

Managed Service Providers look after many customers and will have invested in tools and automation required to efficiently deal with multiple environments. SAP Application providers also offer various SAP services such as Business Continuity Disaster Recovery (BCDR) solutions which use expensive SAP certified systems to benefit many customers.

SAP MSPs also have specific application expertise being a core part of their offering, to pass on economies of scale and efficiencies which can offer valuable benefits to their clients:

  1. Lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)
  2. SPOC (Single Point of Contact) for all your BPC Service & Support needs
  3. Better Security using SAP best practices.
  4. Remove hosting hassles of managing your own infrastructure.
  5. Ensure Compliance with proven BCDR systems and procedures.

Users should look at which components for delivering the application they have skills and time to manage themselves and outsource the elements they prefer not to deal with to the relevant MSP. Most partners will also allow users choose from a menu of available services so they can pick the appropriate ones for them that are cost effective and deliver real value.

About the Author

David penny opal wave

David Penny

David is Director of Cloud Services at Opal Wave and is focused on providing clients with the right cloud solution to meet their SAP business needs.

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