We find that the standard browsers to summarise key-figures and data in SAP are usually inefficient. That's why we've decided to develop our own tool. Interested? We would love your input!
Over the last few years, there has been considerable focus on management reporting and business analytics in the SAP world. There has especially been a lot of talk about cockpits with KPIs, gauges and traffic lights.
However, there are still a lot of managers in operative positions and end-users who have very specific needs. These are typically regarding detailed information about actual situations (‘live data’) or verification of data found in aggregated cubes of OLAP (online analytical processing) systems.
Master data managers may want to link specific master data with transaction data in ways that standard reports in general do not offer. In addition, they would like to be able to change master data directly from within the report.
Super users are often responsible for the creation of report specifications requiring them to find and check possible data sources. For this, they need a flexible tool to check the content of tables and fields and to be able to simulate if linking them with other tables to produce useful information.
End-users may have very specific needs that are not covered by standard reports. These needs are typically not very complex, but can still be considerable time savers. If only a few users are affected, it can be difficult to get the funding for a custom-made report which are often costly to develop. Also, custom made reports often lack the flexibility to make later changes.
Standard browsers are usually inefficient
With this in mind, we can easily explain why SAP users often use simple but inefficient tools to look at detailed data in their ERP system.
The most popular data browsers are reached through transactions SE16 and SQVI. Both access data tables directly, SE16 just one at a time while SQVI allows the user to join multiple tables. Unfortunately, both tools generally do not provide descriptive texts for SAP codes found in the different fields which makes the interpretation of the result difficult for most users.
Aggregating data may be problematic as well. The standard browsers do not use the database to summarize key-figures. This often results in bad performance because a large volume of data is fetched and transferred to SAP. Both tools can produce totals and sub totals when used together with the ABAP List Viewer (ALV), but SQVI often comes up with wrong sums because 1:n relationships are involved.
The consequence is that users often end up downloading data to Excel and aggregating or combining the data there.
ABAP Query is a more sophisticated report definition tool, but has an interface that is somewhat out of date. It has definitely more options than the browsers, but requires the user to learn how to use the definition tool, which is not always intuitive. Using SAPs logical databases as a basis has benefits like predefined linking of tables and automatic authorization checks, but unfortunately logical databases are no guarantee for good response times.
We need a better tool
Seeing the need for flexible data browsing and simple report definition in SAP, iStone, together with Stüssi Products, are developing an easy-to-use, efficient tool for agile data retrieval and presentation. This tool addresses the common issues described above, and allows authorized users to quickly and efficiently create ad-hoc queries which they can use to analyze and even update data within SAP. The reports can be saved for later use, shared with other users or discarded if so wished.
We are currently working with a pilot customer to fully test the product and get constructive feedback. We will then be looking for other interested customers, and are open to discussing the development of the product with customers for their general needs.
Interested in helping us testing and developing this tool? We are eager for your input. Fill in the form below and we'll talk.