The SAP Logistics Information System (LIS): All ECC customers have it, most of them even update its info structures, but few use it. With our new reporting tool, you can give it a new life.
Traditional reporting inside SAP ECC
The LIS has been part of SAP ECC since the start of the R/3 system, but most customers do not make use of it any more. There are four main reason for this:
- An outdated user-interface from the nineties.
- Bad performance
- A maximum of nine characteristics per cube.
- Only one time dimension per cube.
When SAP started focusing on BW, LIS was left behind with a user-interface on a pre-ABAP List Viewer (ALV) level.
Data retrieval uses the old paradigm of fetching all data first and doing aggregation in program internal tables. With old database versions, this might have made sense, but the consequence is that too much data is passed between the database and the program environment. Since modern databases’ ability to aggregate data internally is not used, the user experiences unnecessary long response times.
The maximum of nine characteristics for drill-down is sufficient if reporting takes place only on a high level. If access to information all the way down to the document level is required, however, it gives the user too little flexibility.
Using the Star Model
If we try to change our perspective and forget about LIS-Structures (tables) as cubes of their own, but rather see them in the center of a star-model, as facts tables, a lot of new opportunities will open up:
- The key figures and their update rules, which work very well, can be used as before.
- If the nine characteristics are used for object identifiers only, they can be used to join other tables like dimensions tables in a BW star-model.
- The restriction of having just one time dimension per LIS-structure can be overcome by setting up the LIS table with “date” as dimension and letting the database do the conversion to alternative periods.
All we need now is a tool to fetch the data in a flexible and efficient way, and to present it in a user-friendly way.
Creating a tool for agile data browsing
iStone and Stüssi Products are currently working together to finish such a tool. With direct access to SAP ECC table content, this tool shall be able to create drill-down reports by simply selecting transparent tables and their fields from a favorites list. Possible related tables, like in a star-model, will be proposed by the system. To ensure good response times, only the requested fields are selected from the table and as much aggregation as possible will be done by the database. A new database-select is performed for each drill-down level to make a maximum use of this technique.
In our first version, we are using the ABAP List Viewer (ALV) as a presentation layer. This interface is well known to most SAP users. It lets them easily change column layout, add column, create sub-sums and apply different sorting. Data may alternatively be viewed in Excel Pivot Tables, Crystal reports or be exported to a PC file.
Who are the potential users? Generally, anyone can use this tool. User access may be controlled by application and table on one side, and by organizational object on the other side. End-users can be given access to predefined reports, while super-users may have full flexibility to design reports based on any transparent application table.
Typical uses are:
- Small SAP customers who don’t need or are willing to pay for a full-blown BW solution
- Companies who need access to certain data real-time. E.g. for logistics execution.
- Projects to implement SAP or add new SAP functionality. Often such projects need an analysis tool to understand the SAP data model in order to be able to specify development objects.
- Departments who sometimes need a tool to be able to access the real data tables (actual source of truth). E.g. verification of purchasing and sales statistics. Due to its generic design, the tool may be used with finance and controlling tables as well.
Become our pilot tester!
We are currently working with a pilot customer to fully test the product and to get constructive feedback. We are still looking for other interested customers for testing and to discuss the further general development of the product.
We would love to hear your opinions on this subject. If you think this tool could help your business, or you have any questions please contact us, using the contact information provided below.