I have been working with SAP Business Suite for 16 years now. I started on the functional side in Supply Chain Management (the stream, not the product). Since then, I got more and more involved with the technical parts of the suite, the Netweaver Layer. HANA has been around for a couple of years and it always fascinated me. The speed and the possibilities are great.
Last week, SAP announced the availability of the whole Business Suite on HANA, that includes ERP, SCM, CRM, SRM, etc… I don’t remember feeling that excited about a technical innovation since my early days. The reason is that HANA is really groundbreaking. It allows profound changes to happen in the Business Suite and great business innovations. The possibilities are so vast that is hard to envision how the suite will be 10-15 years from now.
Shift from Technical to Business value proposition
One important thing that comes as a result of this introduction is the shift of "HANA as a Technical innovation" to a "Business transformation enabler" argument. Just running transactions faster is not a big sales argument. The Business transformations that are now possible with an incredibly fast database like this is a very appealing proposition.
At the beginning of the HANA talks, lot of focus was put on how database scans would be fast... Great! But still, business wants to know what it changes for them.
MRP has been optimized for ERP on HANA, what allows jobs that would take many hours to run in minutes. Also great, but have met CIO's that have said that in itself, this is not of great value. "MRP runs at night and if it takes fewer hours to run, not much changes for me...". SAP has now being putting a lot of focus on the business value of this speed. It is not about how fast MRP runs, but what you can change in your business as a result of a MRP run that takes now minutes. MRP runs can be executed more often, increasing accuracy of planning and better service levels. This is appealing, this helps justify HANA as a database.
I am glad to see this shift in HANA proposition from SAP. It will help us partners present the business value of HANA.
Enhancements for HANA and Tools
With ERP 6 enhancement pack 6 version for SAP HANA, there are a lot of changes introduced to leverage the in-memory database. SAP has analyzed the most time consuming transactions and identified which ones would benefit the most from HANA. In this first Enhancement pack, according to OSS note Note 1761546 - SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA - Optimizations, more than 170** transaction codes or reports have been enhanced for faster DB access. Here is a short summary by logical grouping:
|Functional Area||Number of Transactions/Reports optimized **|
|Logistics (MM, SD, QM, etc)||48|
** My count based on the PDF attached to OSS note 1761546.
Several transactional reporting lists have been optimized. This includes:
- Sales order - Lists
- Credit Management lists (Transactions VKM*);
- Incompletion document lists (Transactions V.0*);
- VA05 - Sales Order list;
General Block lists (V23, VA14L);
- MRP Run (MD01, MD07)
- QM/PM Related transactions/reports;
- IE0*, IL0* Display and change Equipment and Functional Locations;
- IW40 – Multilevel order list;
- IE07 – Multilevel Equipment List;
- IH0* Functional Location Structure and List;
- IP30 - Maintenance Scheduling;
- Purchasing (MM-PUR)
- Purchase Order History with large volume of follow on docs
- Reservation Lists MB25/MB24;
- Backorder Processing
- V_R* transactions
- V_V2/V_V1 – Rescheduling of Backorders SO and STO
- BOM explosion (General improvements across system);
- Assets – Several Reports
- Physical Inventory Lists
- General Ledger from Document File
- Document Journals
- GL Account lines/ Vendor and Customer Lines (FBL*)
- General Improvements in Report Writer;
- Financial Statements (FC10N);
- Controlling (order and Cost centers reports – KSB* KOB*);
- Assessment Cycles – general improvements;
- Overhead Reports (CO4*, KGI*, CJ4* CJO8, VA44, KSP4, KSI4…);
<<EDITED after feedback >>
I believe it is very important we compile what this all means to businesses. Something in the lines of:
- Working capital Management - They will provide great real time analysis and enable a single business user or department to consume all of the data they require in a single process (via an iPad);
- MRP Run - This will allow business to rethink their MRP schedule thus running more often and increasing service levels;
- Backorder Processing - Also similar to otpimizations done to MRP runs, backorder processing is often a lengthy process. Orders today may "miss" a day until they get rescheduled. Running Backorder Processing more often provides faster delivery times to customers, priority to all businesses.
- Cash Management - the insight now available "real-time" via Business Suite on HANA will enable customers to improve their cash position and make a material difference;
- SD Order Lists - Older reports (VA05) had limited selection criteria and now you can report on further attributes with no worry about data access. Customer order lists are now possible very fast, answering customer requests becomes easier...
SAP offers SAP HANA Use Cases what could be a very good start. But we need:
- Business Suite product focus
- Clear SAP use cases (it may get lost in the middle of so many suggestions)
- Some sort of priority by subject.
<< This list should only grow and should be compiled somewhere >>
SAP HANA Analytics Foundation for SAP Business Suite 1.0
SAP Offers now an add-on called SAP HANA Analytics Foundation for the Business suite. This is a functionality that largely replaces ABAP Queries. It delivers standard content (SAP data model) optimized for HANA providing very fast reporting. It is now very quick to write reports and they perform great.
Details are available here: http://help.sap.com/hba
First Enhancement pack of many to come
This is only the first enhancement pack bringing optimizations on ERP running on HANA, next enhancement packs will bring further improvements. That is just inevitable.
Here are some of the improvements I would like to see coming to ERP in the next enhancement packs:
Even though some improvements have been introduced, a more comprehensive set of changes could take place to allow cross-plant availability checks. This is today only possible via SCM-APO-GATP. As described further below in this BLOG, this could change in the future (personal opinion);
Even though pricing is done largely by succession of select single reads and an execution of a document pricing procedure from a pure DB access point of view is not a great candidate to improvements, a more in memory pricing engine, that includes all the configuration could be implemented in the future. This should allow faster runs for pricing catalogues and POS Outbound runs in Retail.
How could the Business Suite in general look like many years from now ?
It is important to understand that running the Business on HANA paves the way for some more profound changes. SCM for example was built as a more analytical type of application and therefore built outside the ERP, as a separate system. Integration is provided via CIF (Core Interface) for master data and transactional data (stock and requirements, for example). With ERP DB in memory, we could see the day that the master data (and transactional) dataset for both, merge, allowing an unified system with Global ATP (SCM-APO-GATP) available out of the box. The same for CRM and ERP integration.
Will we see a day where these different functionalities (SCM, CRM, etc) will become modules of an unified system thus giving birth to the Business Suite as one system? Only time will tell..
For now, one thing is for sure: Very exciting times for both functional and technical resources.