SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards

Single Sign-On to Folder in BusinessObjects

One of our customers came up with a challenge for us asking if it was possible to open a folder or category in InfoView through a URL. Doing some research we found that in BO3 there is no SAP official solution for this (SAP note 1390226), however we found some workarounds on how to accomplish it, but the real challenge was that none of these supported SingleSignOn, so every time the end user clicked on the URL before entering in InfoView the logon screen showed up.

After putting some ideas together we came up with a workaround that solves this and this article is meant to show the step by step process so you can implement it. The solution described here has been used for BO3 only as there is already an official solution for BI4 – see details at the end of the article.

Overview of the process:

  • The end user access via web browser on an OpenDocument URL that opens an auxiliary Xcelsius dashboard uploaded to InfoView
  • Opening the Dashboard the user is authenticated in BusinessObjects
  • Once the dashboard is open  a trigger is actioned opening the desired folder
  • This process of redirection remains transparent for the end user

Step by Step process:

1. Create an auxiliary dashboard (.xlf)

Place a URL button in the Dashboard canvas that opens the following link http://SERVERNAME/InfoViewApp/listing/main.do?&initialFolderId=12345

Tick the  “Encode URL” Option and in the Window Options select  Open in: “This Window” from the combo box.

SSO1

Note: Find the FolderID number in the properties of the folder to open (InfoView - Right click > Properties).

SSO2

Go to the behavior tab and configure the Trigger Behavior, map a cell and tick the “When Value Changes” option.

SSO3

Go to the Manage Connections (Control + M) option and create a new connection and configure it as in the pictures below, in our case we used an XML Data connection for performance reasons but other connections are also an option.

This connection needs to bring data into the dashboard spreadsheet so it works as a trigger for the URL Button, for performance reasons the smaller the data the better.

Sample of our XML data connection:

<BICATALOG>

<NOTE>

<SUBJECT>XML</SUBJECT>

<TEXT>http://www.google.com</TEXT>

</NOTE>

<BICATALOG>

SSO4

Go to the Usage tab of the Data Manager window and configure the options as in the picture below. Make sure that Loading Status Message is mapped to the same cell as the Trigger Cell configured in the URL button.

In order for the trigger to work properly the connection needs to be refreshed every 1 second, this is because many times it loads so fast that the URL button does not work, therefore 1 second after it will be triggered with the load of the data.

SSO5

2. Upload the Auxiliary dashboard  to InfoView and  create an OpenDocument URL to this dashboard as shown below

http://SERVERNAME/OpenDocument/opendoc/openDocument.jsp?sType=&iDocID=AcUN8bZsQ1JCgtrLJ6zG.Gg&sIDType=CUID

Note: Find the CUID number in the properties of the Dashboard to open (InfoView - Right click > Properties)

SSO6

The Dashboard OpenDocument URL is the one you should provide to the end user as this dashboard will redirect them to the desired folder.

The same will apply to categories if it is used the SI_ID of a category.

Applicability and benefits

Following the steps mentioned above will help you implement this solution in SAP BusinessObjects XI 3.x, For BI 4.x SAP has taken care of this issue with the feature  “Direct Link to Folder” and this works  in versions  4.1.SP3 or higher,  the difference is the format of the URL to be used, which are: http://SERVERNAME/BOE/BI?startFolder=[Folder CUID]&isCat=false

http://SERVERNAME/BOE/BI?startFolder=[Category CUID]&isCat=true

instead of

http://SERVERNAME/InfoViewApp/listing/main.do?&initialFolderId=[Folder SI_ID]

http://SERVERNAME/InfoViewApp/listing/main.do?&initialFolderId=[Category SI_ID]

The features of this solution are:

  • Creates a direct link to a native folder or Category in InfoView (No official solution from SAP for Version BOXI3)
  • Supports SingleSignOn

The Benefits this solution brings are:

  • Provides the end user with a faster access to the information
  • Facilitates the navigation within InfoView

I hope you enjoyed the reading and that this article is useful to you, if you have any questions please feel free to leave a comment below.

Tips and tricks on HTLM5 Dashboard conversion for BI Mobile

In this blog post I will explain why you should start redesigning dashboards into HTML5 and present you with a guide on how to do it.

Why redesign dashboards into HTLM5?

First of all, it is becoming a standard really fast. Developers want to use it, so in return, it is becoming more popular and the feeling is that it is here to stay. All new and modern browsers support HTML5, allowing developers to investigate and use the new features it can offer in order to achieve nicer and more dynamic results. Also, the combination with CSS3 rather than Flash, allows us to create visual effects like animations, transitions and information moves that were impossible to achieve in simple HTML.

Taking the previous reasons into account, to spend time in the conversion of our current dashboards to HTML5 version is not a crazy thought. Also it is a remarkable the fact that the Mobile incompatibility does not come from the dashboard itself but on the compatibility of every single component. That means that we can open a non HTML5 dashboard where some of its components are visible in Mobile devices and some are not, or maybe have a different behavior than expected. Find below the main steps to follow in order to prepare the dashboard environment, check and replace the incompatible components and get the HTML5 output.

1. Starting the conversion (environment and sizing)

During the environment preparation we probably will need to re-size the dashboard, but the beginning is not the right moment to do it, because by reducing the size, part of the components could disappear from the canvas. Note that SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards4.1 reduces the size to the center of the canvas (i.e. reducing the width, it will reduce the same amount of pixels from right side than from the left side, and the same for top and bottom sides). I suggest, in this case, to create a semi-transparent “rectangle” component with the 1024*768 pixel size and place it in the very front of the dashboard and in a centered position, in order to use it as a guide of where the components should be  fit in.

1

The optimum size for iPad resolution is, at the moment, 1024*768. In Dashboads4.1 we can find the size properties in two different places:

  • File > Document Properties
  • Preferences > Document

I suggest to set both into the same values 1024*768. In case you can ensure all the users will use the 3rd generation iPad or newer, you can set these values to 2048*1536 pixels.

2. Elements’ conversion

If we want to add additional components to our dashboard, we should pick one from the “Mobile Only” list, in the Components panel, to be sure it is completely compatible with HTML5.

For the actual components we could check their compatibility in the “Mobile compatibility” panel.

23

The red cross folder contains the totally unsupported for HTML5 version of the dashboard. The ones with the warning icon will be visible in HTML5 version but some of their properties could be not working as expected in Mobile version.

As there is no official table provided by SAP with the mobile alternatives to the HTML5 non-compatible elements, it could be a good approach to create a document with the alternatives as you are finding them for faster conversions in the future.

3. Getting the output

Of course we can upload the version to SAP BusinessObjects platform by clicking on File>Save to platform>Mobile Only/Desktop and Mobile

But in case we want to upload the dashboard to a tomcat server to be displayed as a webpage we can get the HTML5 file the following way:

  • Click on Preview and choose Preview Mobile (fit to screen):

4

  • Go to the following temporary path while the preview is being executed:
    • C:UsersYOUR_USER_NAMEAppDataLocalTempjsXXXX
    • Go to the last created folder and copy all the files and folders it contains.

5

6

Then, copying the 3 folders and the HTML5 file from you laptop and pasting them in a new folder in Tomcat/Webapps, the dashboard will be accessible from the browser.

7

As could be seen in the image above, the html5 file is accessible from browser after placing the files in the tomcat server.

Summary

Summarizing, these three points below are the main ones when converting an old common dashboard into a fully compatible one to HTML5:

  • Sizing and environment modification
  • Elements’ modification
  • Get the output in the desired format

After applying these steps we could get the .xlf version of the dashboard fully converted and ready to be shown and used in Mobile devices without any visualization or operative problem.

Getting the most from your SAP Strategy Management 10.0

You have successfully implemented SAP Strategy Management (SSM) in your company and users are gradually becoming familiar with that new tool. What’s next? How do we motivate managers to adopt it and use it as a support to their decision making tasks? In this article I would like to share my thoughts about the following topics

  • How can we use the tool to get the people more involved with the company strategy?
  • How can we lower the system total cost of ownership (TCO)?
  • How can we support the Strategy Management Office by making their jobs easier when working with SSM?
  • How can we enrich the information available in SSM?

 

To address these topics, in Clariba we have been working to provide value added developments or solutions to SSM pitfalls. We will be detailing these in following sections.

 

How can we use the tool to get the people more involved with our company strategy?

Many companies manage the business and their departments by objectives. Directors and Managers, in addition to their daily operative tasks, have other assigned responsibilities that are aligned to the company strategy. Why don't use the SSM system as the tool to properly assign objectives to Managers/Directors and to monitor their performance? In SSM we can assign responsibility to many strategy items of the company: Initiatives, KPIs, Objectives, Themes...

From our point of view, all items in the strategy must be assigned to an owner. If you assign a name to an objective, KPI and Initiative, you make sure that somebody in your company is working and making decisions in order to achieve or complete what they have been assigned to. They will also respond in case of poor performance.

Managing the business by objectives could be achieved with the following scenario:

1- Make sure all strategy items have been assigned to a Manager

2- Update the data in SSM on a monthly basis (KPIs and Initiatives)

3- Send personalized reports to all Managers and Directors. In that report they can see what is the current status of their KPIs, Objectives and Initiatives. This way we kindly remind Managers of what they have to care about and respond. Below there is an example of a personalized report we have implemented and that can be sent to all SSM users.

SSM Performance Summary

4- After receiving their performance summary, Managers and Directors can access SSM system and provide comments to their KPIs initiatives and Objectives.

 

How can we improve the system TCO? How can we support the Strategy office by making their jobs easier when working with SSM?

Integrating and automating the SSM solution

  • Does your company have many KPIs currently managed in other systems? You can retrieve the actuals of your KPIs from systems such as SAP BW, SAP ERP, Oracle, Data Warehouse, etc and feed them to the SSM.
  • Does your company have a Planning solution? You can automatically provide the targets of your KPIs to the SSM from your Planning systems. It can be a solution such as SAP BPC or any other planning system.
  • Does your company have a Project Management system? Do you use that system to maintain and monitor your strategic initiatives? You can take advantage of that already existing information and automatically update the initiatives in your SSM system with an ETL. In Clariba we have implemented ETLs to connect Project Management systems with Initiatives in SSM.

 

Making work easier for the Strategy Management Office

Usual requirements in many SSM customers are that they want to get a printable version of their SSM content. In Clariba we have implemented the following plug&play reports

  • Scorecards Report: you can get a nice printable version of the scorecards in your SSM system. You can filter the information by department, by user or other variables.

SSM Scorecard

  • Initiatives report: many customers find the Initiatives front-end in SSM very nice and useful. However, they cannot print all Initiatives’ information at once and take a copy home. That’s  why we have implemented a report displaying all initiatives’ information at once.

SSM Initiatives Status Summary

  • Entry & Approval report: we all know that the usability of the Entry & Approval interface in SSM could be improved. If you want to display data from Entry & Approval in a printout, you will have to go through many windows and clicks to get it. If you want to display a listing of KPIs historical data... You cannot. To enhance this we have implemented a report to list all KPIs in Entry & Approval and to show what the historical data of the KPIs is. You can get your entire E&A data in a single printout and realize what historical values are right or find out what KPIs have no data.

SSM Entry & Approval

  • Comments report: in many places of the SSM system users can insert comments to provide additional information on KPIs, Objectives, Perspectives or strategy map. However, it is not currently possible to collect all these comments at once. Imagine that after your Strategy Meeting several comments have been inserted in the SSM and you want to collect them to summarize what was discussed and decided and what the follow-up actions are. In the SSM you have to go screen by screen, initiative by initiative, KPI by KPI, etc, to find out where the comments are and what they tell. Therefore, we have implemented reports in which all comments in SSM are collected in a single printout. You can filter the report by date, by user, departments, etc...

 SSM Summary of Comments

How can we enrich the information available in SSM?

The Strategy Management system lays on top of the systems pyramid in your landscape. Transactional information is stored in ERP or other business related systems. Analytical information is stored in BI/Data Warehouse systems. The highest level and most aggregated information is stored in the Strategy Management system. For Directors or executives, SSM is the entry point to their business information. KPIs and information is available in the SSM at a very aggregated and summarized way. You can display KPI across time dimensions and very few dimensions.

Sometimes, SSM customers would like to have more analytical information in the SSM. Adding more dimensions for analysis in SSM is not possible as it is not the purpose of the solution. However, we can give a couple of recommendations on how to enrich the SSM with more data:

  • Using the linking functionality in SSM. You can add links to Objectives, KPIs or initiatives. These links can direct the user to a more detailed report located in a BI system (and with SSO configured, the step could be quick).
  • Implementing reports in SSM. Report functionality in SSM is very basic and is used only to provide little additional information. We do not recommend that option if you want to provide the user with advanced reports with analytical capabilities.
  • Embedding external content in SSM. You can create Dashboards or embed external documents in some parts of the SSM application. Why don’t you implement Dashboards and embed them inside the SSM? You would be providing additional information to Managers and Directors without forcing them to jump to another system.

 

Conclusion

We want Managers and Directors in our customers to use SAP Strategy Management as a support for their decision making processes. We can improve the capabilities of the tool and use some methods to get the attention of these users.

SAP Strategy Management is just the starting point in our strategy. It’s a repository where everybody can access and get information related to the strategy. It is on the customers’ hand how they use, enrich and exploit that information.

Partners and implementers like us can provide recommendations and reports that can be very valuable for SSM customers and should always be open to listen to new ideas or further reporting requirements.

If you have any experience implementing SSM, or if you are a customer interested in what we have enabled in our current SSM customers, leave a comment below.

Common SAP Dashboards (Xcelsius) bugs and how to solve them

This post is about SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (formerly known as Xcelsius) and its intricate form of work. If you are an assiduous dashboard developer or just beginning to work with the tool, you will notice some bugs that interfere with your developing and slows you down. My main goal is to talk about the bugs or "misfortunes" that I have commonly faced in SAP BO Dashboards (Xcelsius) and the workarounds that I have found to save you some time when working with this tool. My second objective is to open a discussion where you can comment on other SAP Dashboards issues and solutions you found.  

Formulas: from the Excel to the flash

There are some formulas that are supported in Excel but do not work after compiling the flash file of your dashboard. Also, Xcelsius does not work with formula arrays or date comparison. This happens because when you compile, the Excel file data is transformed via a flash tool so it can be interpreted by the dashboard. You should always read the SAP Dashboards guide with the allowed formulas (Chapter 23 page 387 in the following document. You will know that you have come across this issue if after compiling, no new data is showing in the dashboard (but in the snapshot the data is showing in the Excel) or when the Excel snapshot has blanks where the data should have be.

 

Mapping: cell selection while the cells or tabs are blocked

There are times when you need to block an Excel book, tab or cell (or maybe you just happened to inherit a project from a coworker that needs to be updated and it is protected with a password you do not know) within SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards. If this is your case, you won’t be able to map your web services, queries or connections to the Excel file. The solution for this is to select the desired cells before selecting the connection and the mapping. By doing this, you will make sure that the default cells that appears in your mapping are the ones that you want. This also applies for an object in your dashboard that needs to get data from or input data in the Excel file.

 

Web Services: load information issue

When you have this kind of connections to data, suddenly a problem could arise and leave your flash file without data as if you had not mapped any object or web service. First of all, make sure that your network is working properly. If it is, then check that the connections are working fine, you can do this by looking at the reports where the Web Service is mapped. Also, make a snapshot and see if there is data in the Excel file. If you have gone through all these steps and you still do not know why the data is not showing in the dashboard, my recommendation would be: patience my friend! You probably have encountered a period of time where your network is being heavily used and the Web Services times out. So, your options are: wait until you see the data by refreshing occasionally, update the time out value to a higher number or talk with the users of the network. The key is not to despair, because this will probably be a very common problem that does not depend on you or your project.

 

Objects: If you are not able to move them with the arrows

Sometimes you will lose the capability to move your objects with the arrows without warning. This is very common and believe it or not, I solved this by inserting a new Text Box object, writing something on it and as if it were magic objects can be moved again. Of course, make sure to erase the inserted Text Box after you have done this.

 

Moreover, I would like to give you some tips that I find useful:

If the preview takes too long, export the .swf file and save time

This will allow you to see the flash file in your explorer and test your dashboard; the downside is that you are unable to export the snapshot of the data with this solution.

 

Make sure you always save after ANY change

You may think that this is a trivial tip, but you would be surprised on how much time you could lose by not doing this. You should save after every change, not only after big ones. The Excel file can become corrupted, objects will stop performing well, data is erased, the Excel or SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards will close without notification, among many other things.

 

I hope that you find these tips useful for your dashboard developing with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards;

If you know more bugs and how to solve them please write them below so we can all learn about it. If you have any questions or anything to add to help improve this post, please feel free to also leave your comments.

 

Dashboard integration in SAP Crystal Reports

In this blog article I would like to share with you how to embed a dashboard in a Crystal Report using flash variables.  First of all let’s give a scenario that leads us to do that. In this case we wanted to create a dashboard for a SAP GRC module. The problem was that we could not connect to the system directly with SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards (Xcelsius for the most nostalgic ones). Apart from that, there is a good thing about having a dashboard embedded in Crystal, you will have a dashboard that can be refreshed from Crystal Reports without needing a previous authentication. You will also be able to save the “report” (you can show the dashboard) in PDF with saved data and the dashboard will be completely clickable and navigable.

After having a clear reason why we need to embed the dashboard into a Crystal Report let's jump to how to do it.

Once you have your dashboard ready go to “Manage Connections” and add a new one by choosing “Flash Variables”.

fig. 1 - Data Manager in SAP Dashboards
fig. 1 - Data Manager in SAP Dashboards

Once you have it ready give a name to this connection and choose the variable format as CSV. Now you might wondering why that is.

The variable format indicates how you have to prepare the data in Crystal Reports in order to let Excel read the variables, by putting them into the specific columns.

Virtually, what more or less happens between the dashboard embedded and the data from the Crystal report is the following:

Data flow between Crystal data and SAP Dashboards
Data flow between Crystal data and SAP Dashboards

For the moment we will step forward and later we will get back to this topic again.

Continuing with the Flash variable connection we were working at. Create as many variables as you need in you Dashboard. In the example below we have one flash variable for each column of the raw data table (see the image below).

Finally, save the dashboard and export it to flash file.

Adding flash variables to the connection
Adding flash variables to the connection

After those steps in SAP Dashboards, open Crystal Reports and open the report in which you want to add the Dashboard (it needs to have data inside).

Right click on the place you want to locate the dashboard and choose “Insert Flash Object”. A window will be opened and you will be able to select your flash file and select if you want it linked or embedded. If you want to have it connected to the Crystal data choose “Embedded”.

Once the dashboard is embedded you need to create the variables which will be linked with the flash variables in the Excel file. This is the time to go back to our figure 2! As we said the format you need to send the data to the flash variables is CSV; that means you should cook your data stored in columns (objects in your crystal reports) in order to have it in a singles string with values separated by comas.

Concept of what needs to be done before mapping variables
Concept of what needs to be done before mapping variables

Now here is the trick to creating these variables so that you can avoid fighting with Crystal reports for a while.

Take each column or data you need and type for each one of them the following formula:

global stringvar [Varriable];

if ([Variable]="") then  [Variable]:=Cstr({Field})

Else     [Variable]:=[Variable]+","+Cstr({Field});

[Variable];

Note: Be careful if the data to convert into CSV is number formatted as #,##.##. The thousand separator will create errors in your dashboard if you are showing them. To avoid that kind of issues replace Cstr({Field}) by Cstr({Field},’#’).

Now that you have the dashboard placed and the variables created in Crystal reports, right click on the dashboard (in design mode) and choose “Flash Data Export”.

Once the pane is open you will insert the name of the Excel flash variables in the left column and the Crystal Reports variables in the right column. Is VERY important that the names of the variables in the left columns match perfectly (exactly the same name) with the names of the variables defined in the data manager in SAP Dashboards (see figure 1).

Flash Data Expert in Crystal Reports
Flash Data Expert in Crystal Reports

By following these steps you will be able to add a Dashboard into a Crystal reports and what is better is that you will be able to refresh a dashboard that is reading data from you system without any logging needed!

I hope this is useful to you in your upcoming projects. If you have any tips our doubts, leave a comment below.

Providing SSM data to SAP BusinessObjects reporting tools - Exhausting all scenarios

In the last two months I have been in a couple of customers who were interested in the integration of SAP Strategy Management 10.0 with SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.0. In this post I would like to explain what that integration is about.

First of all, a brief introduction about the solution. The SAP Strategy Management (SSM) software allows aligning the Strategy Plan of the company and its key objectives and spread it across all the organization. It is an out of the box Enterprise Performance Management solution in which you can insert the most important KPIs of your company in Balanced Scorecards or Strategy Maps and control their performance in relation to the Strategy of the company. Within SSM you can also create initiatives to implement improvements or corrective actions and link them to the objectives or KPIs.

Sometimes the customer has requirements to implement reports or further analysis on top of SSM and these cannot be covered with the standard functionality of the solution. In that case, the best option is to implement the integration between SSM and SAP BusinessObects reporting tools. Some examples of what you can do with that integration:

  • Implement bespoke Dashboards with your SSM KPIs and Objectives
  • Implement universes and allow users to exploit information from SSM with Web Intelligence without consuming additional SSM licenses
  • Implement pixel-perfect Crystal Reports on top of the SSM
  • Foster ownership with Publications. For example, send a list of KPI’s that are not performing well to their responsible users

For implementing such integration, you can follow the SAP SSM Configuration guide. However, in some cases, there is lack of documentation and you have to do things outside the script. In other cases, the existing documentation has not been updated yet to BI 4.0 and SSM 10.0. And finally, sometimes the documentation is wrong or the software has bugs and you cannot setup the integration.

In this post we will analyze following scenarios:

  1. Web Intelligence reporting on top of a SSM Models
  2. Web Intelligence reporting on top of a SSM Data Model (Clariba-developed solution)
  3. Crystal Reports on top of SSM (exploring different options)
  4. Dashboards on top of SSM (exploring different options)

These scenarios have been implemented with following software components:

  • SAP NetWeaver 7.3 SP08
  • SAP SSM 10.0 SP06
  • SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.0 SP05
  • Crystal Reports 2011 SP05
  • Dashboards 4.0 SP05

1. Web Intelligence reporting on top of a SSM Model

As per SAP documentation, we can setup the ODBO Provider in order to build a Universe on top of SSM Models. The problem is we still have to use the Universe Designer instead of the Information Design Tool of the BI 4.0. Bellow are the steps for setting up the ODBO Provider and implementing your first report on top of the SSM:

  • Go to your BO 4.0 server and make sure you have a Multimensional Analysis Service in the BO server. Stop the MDAS Server and the Connection Server in the Central Configuration Manager
  • Copy the ODBOProvider folder from the <drive>:Program files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectsStrategy ManagementInternetPub path of your SSM server to the BO server
  • In the SSM server, run the SSMProviderReg.bat file in the BO server. Make sure you have administrator rights in the BO server. Once completed, check in the regedit that you are able to find the register SSMProvider.1 in the Windows register
  • Modify the windows register to insert following string in that path (assuming that you are using a 64-bit Windows): HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREWow6432NodeSAPSSMODBOProvider "servletUri"="/strategyServer/ODBOProviderServlet"
  • Access the following path in BO server: <drive>:Program Files (x86)SAP BusinessObjectsSAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 4.0dataAccessconnectionServeroledb_olap

<DataBase Active="Yes" Name="Strategy Management 10.0">

<Aliases>

<Alias>Strategy Management 10.0</Alias>

</Aliases>

<Library>dbd_sqlsrvas</Library>

<Parameter Name="Family">SAP BusinessObjects</Parameter>

<Parameter Name="Extensions">sqlsrv_as2005,sqlsrv_as,oledb_olap</Parameter>

<Parameter Name="MSOlap CLSID">SSMProvider.1</Parameter>

</DataBase>

  • Start the MDAS Server and the Connection Server
  • Now we can go to the Universe Designer and start implementing a Universe on top of our Model. The first step is defining the connection. In the connection list (retrieved from the Connection Server) we can see now the new register we have inserted, Strategy Management 10.0:
  • Define the connection parameters. You must be an SSM user with proper permissions and you must inform the server's complete address (FQDN) and its port.
  • Once connected to the SSM server, you will see the list of available Cubes. The AS category allows access to the measures (based on attributes and dimensions) in the Application Server model.The SM Adapter allows access to the strategy dimension, which represents the strategy management dimensions Scorecard and Initiative. Scorecard detail not relating to the KPI such as comments are not presented.
  • And finally we will see our universe with the available dimensions, the standard classes (Time and Scorecards) and the measures. You can display the technical names of the objects as detail or you can define hierarchies of Perspectives, Objectives and KPIs.
  • Now we can publish the universe and go to the Web Intelligence to start implementing our reports on top of the SSM models.

2. Web Intelligence reporting on top of SSM Data Model

That is a solution you can implement if you have an advanced knowledge of the SSM Data Model. You can implement a UNX Universe with the Information Design Tool by linking all the tables of the Entry and Approval, the Nodes of the Scorecard, the Cube Builder or the Initiatives. The advantages of that option is that you have access to extra information not available in the SSM Cube,  such as the Initiatives, the users related to specific KPIs, the attributes of the KPIs etc.

If you are interested in such an option, please, contact us. Keep in mind that it is not a supported option from SAP but we have implemented it many times and we know it works.

3. Crystal Reports on top of SSM

The integration of SAP Crystal Reports with SSM can be done by 4 different ways:

  • Implementing a Query as a Web Service from the Universe, built in previous steps: we have managed to implement that scenario
  • Connecting Crystal Reports to the Universe on top of the SSM Models we have built in the first step: that scenario is not working although we followed the instructions from SAP
  • Using an OLE DB (ADO) connection: this option, not explained by SAP, is available if we install the ODBO provider but we have not managed to make it work
  • Using the OLAP Connection: according to SAP Documentation, we can build an OLAP Cube Report in Crystal Reports. We should be able to select the Strategy Management option in following screen to inserts SSM connection data, but we have not been able to find that option

4. Dashboards using Web Services Connections

Using Dashboards, you have two different ways to implement the access to data:

  • Implement a Query as a Web Service (QaaWS) to retrieve the relevant information from the Universes we had implemented before.
  • Use Web Services available in the SAP NetWeaver to retrieve information from the SSM:  according SAP documentation you need to download the WSDL file SMDataServiceService and CubeServiceService applications and call the functions within them. With our Dashboards 4.0 SP05 we have not been able to process the WSDL files as the tool is unable to load the URL.

Summary

Providing SAP Strategy Management information to SAP BusinessObjects BI Platform 4.0 can enhance the capabilities of your Strategy system. However that integration is not so easy given the lack of information on that topic and the quality of the existing information. We tried to implement all possible integration scenarios and we have succeeded with Web Intelligence and this is the route we recommend  as the scenarios related to Crystal Reports and Dashboards the integration were not working when using SSM 10.0 and BI 4.0.

We will be following-up these issues and let you know if we finally manage to solve them. If you have any suggestions or if you found a workaround to these issues please leave a comment bellow.

Do you know what drives your business?

Knowing your business and making smarter decision in order to keep up with the everyday risks involved in running your business is critical in order to survive in today’s global economy. Making effective decisions requires information. This information must be accurate and updated, and in the right level of detail that you need to be able to move forward at optimal speed. Key business analytics is what allows you to draw information from the data you collect in the different parts of your business. When you understand exactly what is driving your business, where new opportunities come from, and where mistakes were made, you can be proactive to maximize existing revenues and reveal areas for expansion. Better decisions can be made when you have more visibility into vital insight coming from your own company.

SAP Business Intelligence (BI) Solutions provides a window into your company. A dashboard for example is a single, reliable, and real-time overview of your company.  It offers you quick insight, in visual appealing formats that are easy to understand. You also have "What-If" tests that let you measure the business impact of a particular change. This can also be made available on mobile devices, so you can make informed decisions on-the-move. When you have information you can trust, you are able to act rapidly and stay ahead of the game.

With years of expertise in BI, Clariba has helped several companies to draw insight from their data. For example, Vodafone Turkey´s Marketing department sought our help to provide the Customer Value Management Team with a dynamic and user-friendly visualization and analysis tool for marketing campaigns. With the central dashboard we delivered, the marketing team was able to analyze existing campaigns and design outlines for new ones based on key success factors.

You can learn more about SAP BI solutions here, and you can also watch SAP BI Solutions videos on YouTube. Want to unlock this information on what drives your business forward? Contact us on info@clariba or leave a comment below, and discover how SAP BI Solutions can help you achieve it.

 

Clariba and Exxova bring you Exxova´s MyBI Mobile at GITEX 2012

Visit Clariba and Exxova at GITEX Technology Week 2012, check out Exxova MyBI in action and enter the drawing for a 10-user implementation of Exxova MyBI Cloud!

Clariba and Exxova will be present at the SAP stand at the GITEX TECHNOLOGY WEEK 2012, the #1 technology fair in the MEASA region, and considered by many, as one of the top information and communications technology (ICT) trade fairs in the world. Over 138,000 ICT Professionals, 18,000 C-level executives and more than 80% of the top ICT brands worldwide are expected in GITEX 2012, which will run from 14 to 18 October at the Dubai World Trade Center.

As GITEX continues to uncover the latest IT trends, like the shift to enterprise mobility accelerating at a rapid rate on upcoming years, it is unsurprising that we find the “Mobile, Apps & Content” area at the exhibition floor. This is where you will find the SAP Stand. With Mobility at the core of their innovation agenda, and heavy investments to stay at the forefront of the enterprise mobility market, SAP will be present at GITEX , showcasing its leading solutions in mobile device management, mobile applications and development platform among others.

The SAP stand will also feature partners such as Clariba ─ an expert provider of business intelligence solutions and a specialist in SAP BusinessObjects working with Exxova Worldwide ─ global supplier of MyBI Mobile.

The two companies have partnered to bring Exxova's MyBI Mobile™ solution to the EMEA region. MyBI Mobile is a business intelligence mobility solution, which allows users to instantly access enterprise-wide BI content from mobile devices. It provides business leaders with real-time mission-critical data whether in the boardroom or airport terminal. All existing content is available without the need for rewriting or re-platforming so you can enjoy speed, flexibility, application breadth and simplicity.

  • Meet us at our joint pod within the SAP stand in Hall 6, Stand #57 for a hands-on demo of Exxova´s MyBI Mobile and for insights on enterprise mobility and information management from Marc Haberland and David Monks.
  • We also invite you to attend our Expert Presentation ─ Information at the Point of Decision with MyBI Mobile ─ at the Seminar Area of the SAP stand, on the 17th October at 12:30, presented by David Monks.
  • By visiting us you will be able to enter the drawing for a full implementation of Exxova MyBI Cloud for 1 year for 10 users (worth $5,000!).

“We are excited to go to GITEX; it has become one of the most important ICT events of the year. As a BI services and solutions provider, Clariba believes that it’s important for the entire SAP BusinessObjects BI portfolio to run on multiple mobile platforms," says Marc Haberland, Managing Director of Clariba. “Exxova’s MyBI Mobile solution is a very cost-effective, easy-to-use option to deliver that without compromising data security, and we think this is a great fit with the GITEX technology week, where attendants come to see innovative solutions that can help improve their work processes” Marc comments.

David Monks, Vice President of Exxova EMEA, complements, saying that “the opportunity to showcase our innovative MyBI Mobile solution delivering broad support of Business Intelligence across the SAP  BusinessObjects family and beyond in conjunction with our partners Clariba and SAP is an exciting event for Exxova. We look forward  to showing how easy it is to deliver mobile BI using Dashboards Design (Xcelsius) Flash-based dashboards, Webi Reports, Crystal and even Explorer onto mobile devices like the iPad without any re-engineering whatsoever and with only 1 or 2 days installation time”.

______________________________________________________________ SAP, Clariba & Exxova can be found in Hall 6, Stand #57 – Mobile, Apps & Content area

For more information on GITEX Technology week visit www.gitex.com

For more information on Clariba visit www.clariba.com or contact us at info@clariba.com.

For more information on Exxova Worldwide visit www.exxova.com or contact us at gitex2012@exxova.com.

Clariba Webinar – Decision Making goes Mobile with Exxova MyBI

Are you looking for a way to access your company data from your mobile device? With Exxova MyBI, you can!

Attend our Webinar (in English) on the 15th of May from 11.00 - 12:00 (UAE - GMT +4:00).

REGISTER HERE

Currently, organizations have made significant investments in developing their Business Intelligence (BI) solutions. In the case of SAP BW and BusinessObjects, business and IT organizations have amassed hundreds of reports using tools such as Crystal Reports, Web Intelligence, and Dashboards (Xcelsius) from SAP. Additionally, significant efforts have been used to establish an enterprise security model. These combined efforts represent a considerable investment.

The existing market perception is that the current mobile devices cannot manage the heavy lifting of the data analytics comparable to today’s advanced and mature BI solutions, so businesses tends to modify their processes and content to adapt to mobile tools.

However, Exxova´s MyBI mobile app allows companies to leverage their previous investments. With it users can instantly access Enterprise wide content at crucial decision points at any location at any time without any major modification to any existing content. Users can print, change, update, and do all of the work that they currently perform on the enterprise system through a mobile device, increasing end user adoption.

We invite you to invest an hour of your time to get to know this solution and see it in action in our MyBI webinar. The agenda for the event is:

  • Introduction
  • Main features of Exxova´s MyBI mobile
  • Main benefits of Exxova´s MyBI mobile
  • Demo
  • Questions and answers

REGISTER HERE

For More information about Exxova MyBI visit our website.

Best Regards,

Xavier Marigó Sales Manager – Clariba ME

 

Xcelsius in BI on Demand (BIOD)

In this blog article I am going to talk about Xcelsius in SAP BI On Demand (BIOD). What I am going to explain are the steps that you should follow to upload an existing Xcelsius Dashboard to the BIOD system. 

What is BIOD?

First of all, for those who don’t know what is BIOD I will give a brief explanation. Basically we can say that BIOD is the most complete and approachable cloud based business intelligence suite available in the market today. BIOD is software as a service; you do not need to install any software on your machines to get instant value from the system. All you need to do is Log in and provide some data. It is a cheap BI solution, due to the fact that you don’t need to make a huge investment in hardware, licenses, etc... everything is in the net.  The target for this technology is small companies, which are less likely to be able to acquire a BI system due to the costs, but with BIOD they have an accesible  way into SAP BusinessObjects analysis system. In BIOD you are able to create:

  • Xcelisus Dashboards
  • Web Intelligente reports
  • Explorer

You can get more information about BI On Demand here.

 Now, let´s see how to upload an existing XCelsius Dashboard to the BIOD system.

How to upload an Xcelsius Dashboard to BIOD?

First of all, if you don’t have a BIOD account you should create it. It s free, and with it you will able to test most of the features of this cloud system. Click here to Sign up.

Once we are logged, we will see this screen.

Now I want to show you how you should upload an existing Xcelsius file with static data to the BIOD system.

First of all we should create the DataSource, so in my Stuff panel we should select Datasets. After that we click Add New Button  -> Add Dataset

Then we should chose from which place we will select the dataset. We have several options: Create From Query (this option is only available in the BIOD Advanced version, where the connection to a universe is possible), bring data from salesforce or create an empty dataset from scratch and finally, we can upload a file (xls,xlsx or csv) which we will use in this example.

As I said before, we select an excel file as source of our dataset, in the first row of our excel file it is important to have the labels of each column. We can also edit this dataset, change the value type of each column, the label name, etc...

At the bottom of this page we can find the properties section, here we should enable the Web service. Once we have done this, the system will generate a url that will be the reference to the dataset in our dashboard.

The next step will be to upload the Xcelsius file as a template, so we select Add New -> Add Template.

We create a name for this template, uncheck the Create a new Xcelsius file check box and finally, select the xlf file that we have locally.

The screen below will then appear. In order to connect the dataset to our xlf file we should select the blue sentence (you may click here to edit the Xcelsius file). You can also attach an image of the dashboard as a thumbail for repository. The object selection will be fancier.

Once the Xcelsius editor is opened we add a connection using OnDemand -> Add Connection menu option. This will create one Flash Variables connection ([Flashvar]) and two Web Service Connections ([OD_Data1 and OD_Data2). In our case we should delete one data connection because we only have one source, but in case we need more data sources we can create as many as we want. It will also create a new tab in the XC spreadsheet that contains these cell bindings.

After that we configure the data connections. Open the Data Manager (Data -> Connections) and you will see a Connection of type FlashVars.  You should see the following:

  • get_data_url: (mandatory). This should be bound to the cell which the Web Service Url of the Web Service Connections are also bound to. If you have multiple connections this should be bound to the range which holds those connections.

Then each Web Service Connection (OD_DataN), in our case only OD_Data1 points to the set of cells to which that connection outputs its data.

These are the next steps that you should follow in order to setup the dashboard:

  • Click on My Datasets and click copy beside the dataset OD_Data1.
  • Paste the url from dataset to the WSDL URL input box of a Web Service connection

  • Click Import to import the schema.
  • Bind the web service url to the same cell as get data url (Note: if you used the Add Connection process this should already be done).
  • Bind the headers and the row values.
  • Set Refresh on Load to be true.

After these steps you can save your changes and then click the Back button to go back to Edit Connection step of creating a template. You should see your connection listed on the screen.

Click Next to go to the Edit Sample Data step, you can choose to add in your sample data from the XLF if you like, and then click Finish.

Finally we will create a visualization using this template. We select our Data Input, in this case Data Source.

 

If we go to the visualization menu we can find the object.

 

In conclusion we can say that the BIOD system is a nice tool to start testing the power of the SAP solutions without a potential heavy investment at the beginning. It can be also a good tool to make demos on and show our dashboards to customers. It is very interesting to test the explorer tool, you can see the amount of options that the BIOD brings you in terms of data analysis.  If you are interested in the advanced solution you should get in touch with SAP.

If you have any comment or doubts do not hesitate to contact us or leave a comment below.