At the annual SAPPHIRE NOW 2011 conference next month, SAP will announce SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) 10. This release brings together several BusinessObjects acquisitions under the same branding.
This has not been an easy task. EPM 10 is the result of multiple acquisitions BusinessObjects made in the financial management space before the merger with SAP:
- SAP BusinessObjects Strategy Management (formerly of Pilot Software)
- SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation (formerly Business Planning and Consolidation by OutlookSoft)
- SAP BusinessObjects Profitability and Cost Management (formerly of ALG Software)
- SAP BusinessObjects Intercompany and SAP BusinessObjects Financial Consolidation (formerly of Cartesis).
In addition, other features of EPM 10 include SAP BusinessObjects Financial Information Management (FIM), which bridges information from SAP and non-SAP sources and EPM applications.
Other nonfinancial, operational applications in EPM 10 include SAP BusinessObjects Spend Performance Management (formerly Spend Analytics) and SAP BusinessObjects Supply Chain Performance Management.
The first thing users should see with EPM 10 is a more consistent look and feel, particularly with the SAP NetWeaver versions of the main applications in the financial space. Each has a more consistent browser-driven user interface that makes process flows -- such as moving between SAP BusinessObjects Strategy Management and SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation -- more intuitive and streamlined.
Another area that’s updated in EPM 10 is the increased data handling and business intelligence (BI) capabilities that now come with most of the SAP NetWeaver EPM applications. Customers have been confused by SAP vendors claiming that EPM required large BI projects to aggregate information and handle financial information in conventional data warehouses.
While this remains an option, several more local and flexible alternatives come with EPM 10. SAP began phasing out FIM as a standalone application in 2009. It is now available to SAP BusinessObjects customers at no additional cost if they are using other financial EPM applications (such as Intercompany and Financial Consolidation).
Second, the common BI capability that came with the Pilot Application Server (PAS) layer is now part of a broader set of EPM 10 applications (and some governance, risk and compliance [GRC] 10 applications, such as SAP BusinessObjects Risk Management and SAP BusinessObjects Sustainability Performance Management). This means that objects and information stored and aggregated in, for example, SAP BusinessObjects Strategy Management, can be shared more widely with SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation, SAP BusinessObjects Risk Management and other financial and operational EPM 10 solutions.
Finally, it’s interesting to see that EPM applications are now branching out into process and industry areas. EPM 10 comes not only with starter kits for various initiatives (such as IFRS, liquidity and capital expenditures planning), but also for specific industries, such as banking.
William Newman, CMC, ASQ, SAis managing principal of Newport Consulting Group, an SAP influence partner focused on EPM and GRC solutions, and an adviser to the Sustainability Executive Advisory Committee (SEAC) of SAP. He is the author of the SAP Press book Understanding SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise Performance Management.