Evolution of SAP’s Financial Planning Solutions

Which of SAP’s planning tools are best for your organization has never been so difficult. SAP has specifically offered the expansion of alternatives. In the last few months SAP has released the SAP BPC Embedded Model; launched SAP Cloud for Planning; and released Integrated Business Planning as part of the Simple Finance part of S/4HANA. So what are the right concerns– here’s some we think are proper:

  • When deploying SAP BPC NetWeaver, which model should I pick – Embedded (aka Unified) or Classic (aka Standard)?
  • Should I remain to develop planning options in SAP ECC or SAP BW-Integrated Planning (IP)?
  • When/where should I think about using the SaaS “Cloud for Planning” offering?
  • What do I require to think about if I wish to deploy Integrated Business Planning within Simple Finance?


Research verifies that planning, budgeting and forecasting continues to be a high priority for CFO’s who continue to search for enhancing efficiency, working closer with the business and spending more time analyzing rather than creating/collating data. The CFO’s new reality is to stay up to date with the accelerating pace of business. This implies that finance has to have the ability to get closer to providing immediate understandings based upon genuine time procedures and information.

In considering the ideal questions, and certainly the answers, the effect of SAP HANA must not be far from mind. The new SAP BPC Embedded Model is positioned to fully take advantage of the power of HANA– and indeed it is this Embedded Model that is at the heart of the Integrated Business Planning solution. Integrated Business Planning offers real time actual/plan data development and comparison as it operates straight within the S/4 HANA environment, consequently eliminating the have to move data from one system to another. Cloud for Planning operates on HANA and the fast speed of SAP’s development of its features/functions verifies SAP’s aspiration is to position this as a core part of their EPM offerings– I’m sure the competitive pressure SAP are feeling from other SaaS planning solutions on their standard EPM offerings also contributes here.

As we’ve seen from our deal with clients, there are a number of aspects that have to be thought about when taking a look at which set of SAP’s financial planning solutions are most proper for you. Note I use the word ‘set’ deliberately since in reality, a minimum of in the short-term for those of you who have already deployed SAP solutions, we think that some of these solutions will be complementary to be made use of successfully. Now back to those elements that need considering:

  • Data – what the sources of real data that you have to embed into your planning processes are and where are they saved. If this is mostly SAP, then Integrated Business Planning may very well be a proper solution.
  • BPC Model option – as there is no automated migration in between the Embedded and Classic BPC Models, carefully consider the Model you decide to support planning going forwards. Keep in mind, presently the Embedded Model does not support financial consolidation but both Models can be run in the exact same BPC system.
  • Front end tools – whilst lots of BPC users have actually simply got used to the EPM Add-In, SAP’s direction appears to be shifting more towards the Analysis for Office tool– specifically when using the Embedded Model.
  • Changing/different skills– the skills to deploy options like the BPC Embedded Model and Cloud for Planning are rather different to the BPC Classic Model. So you have to think about if you have/can get the right skills. This is particularly vital as these tools are created to maximise the advantages that the HANA platform supplies.
  • Business User vs. IT centricity – whilst it’s simple to place a solution as completely business user or IT centric, it is essential to identify that the emphasis on who can maintain/manage/enhance a solution does depend upon the solution itself. When SAP first presented BPC, they placed it as a business owned/managed tool. When it moved onto the NetWeaver platform, the data provisioning component moved more towards an IT function. Now with the BPC Embedded Model which leverages the detailed planning functions of BW-Integrated Planning and the power of the HANA database, the shift moves more to IT specialists with skills in creating planning functions and SQL scripting. However this comes with the advantage of having the ability to support wider planning scenarios which have a much deeper granularity of data.


In conclusion, as a user/potential user of SAP’s planning tools, you have to think carefully about the future to guarantee your investment (time/money/business modification) is aligned with the emerging options reality from SAP and the advantages these bring. Nobody said getting the ideal questions addressed was going to be simple. You need to engage those with useful experience of deploying the numerous solutions, rather than those who can just estimate you the SAP marketing materials! There are some excellent opportunities right now which can offer you with extensive, future proofed financial planning solutions that can run efficiently on huge data volumes. Referring back to the CFO’s new reality– well this boils down to enhancing both efficiency and effectiveness– and what’s the difference in between these 2? Back to Drucker: efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things!

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