An overview of SAP’s business function prediction tool:
Why the new offering?
Since 2006, SAP has offered enhancement packages (EHPs) to help customers keep their SAP Business Suite applications up to date. Unlike traditional upgrades, which often entail lengthy implementations undertaken only every few years, EHPs allow customers to update specific business functionality on a smaller scale and more frequent basis. Enhancement packages are cumulative, which means that the most current EHP includes all the business functions delivered in previous EHPs. It also means that EHPs are growing ever larger: EHP 6 for SAP ERP 6.0 – the most current version – has over 600 enhancements. Understandably, it can be difficult for customers to find and activate the business functions that are most relevant for them in each new enhancement package. That’s where business function prediction (BFP) comes in.
“We found that customers were installing the enhancement packages, but had challenges identifying relevant new functions,” explains Martin Harnacke, Business Support Principal at SAP. “That’s why we developed the business function prediction tool to make it easier for people to identify those innovations that create the biggest business benefits for them.”
The tool, which has been available on SAP Service Marketplace since early 2010, provides customers with a tailored report on the relevancy of each business function based on an analysis of the customers’ transaction usage. In the past, customers would upload their usage statistics online and SAP would generate the report. It used to take up to five days before customers received their reports. As of March 2013, a new version of the tool, BFP 2.0, allows customers to create their own reports and get results in minutes. The switch to a self-service approach came from customers’ desire for quicker response times and greater flexibility.
Who is the target audience?
Business function prediction is targeted both at functional experts, as well as IT administrators. In most cases the IT department triggers the analysis centrally and then uses the final report to determine with business executives which new functions should be activated. Based on the feedback of many customers this process of sharing the results within the customers’ organization is now much easier with the new version.
Currently, BFP is available for enhancements to SAP ERP – from the latest SAP ERP 6.0 application to SAP R/3 and older installations. The latest version, BFP 2.0, came out at the end of March and swiftly attracted close to 300 customers within the first month of its availability.
Next page: How does it work and what are the benefits?
How does it work?
It only takes a few steps to create a report with the new self-service tool. To start, you must first log in to SAP Service Marketplace (an S-user ID is required), where you will find a link to the business function prediction tool.
- Choose a report: You can either start a new report or manage an existing report that has already been created.
- Select a system: After choosing to start a new report, you will find a list of all ERP systems currently classified as “productive” within your company. You can request a report for one ERP system at a time.
- Prerequisites: This page explains exactly what information you will need to submit in order to create the report. It also requires you to accept SAP’s terms and conditions for using the tool.
- Transaction: Next, you will be asked to upload a text file (.txt) of your company’s SAP transaction usage. This information can easily be exported from the productive system in question using the step-by-step instructions provided in the business function prediction tool.
- Function set: To further narrow down the results to your existing system configuration, you may select an industry-specific function set (formerly industry add-ons) – like SAP Mining or Healthcare –that has already been activated. Conflicting results will then be automatically excluded from the report.
- Business function activated: Optionally, you can select the business functions that have already been activated in the past, so they won’t be recommended to your line of business teams again.
- Industry: Lastly, you specify the industry functionalities you are interested in.
The report is generated in less than 5 minutes and can then be viewed online, downloaded and saved locally, and shared with colleagues via e-mail. In the report, you will not only see a list of enhancements that are available for the business functions you currently use, but also how relevant each of these enhancements is for you based on your transaction usage. For example, if you frequently use material requirements planning processes, the related enhancements may show up as 82% relevant for you. You also can view the popularity rating of the functionality (based on how many other customers use it), release notes, and further documents and presentations for each suggested enhancement. Filter functions allow you to sort the suggestions according to EHP and business area.
What are the benefits?
The main benefit of business function prediction is the ability to sort through hundreds of enhancements to quickly find and recognize the most relevant ones for your company. It gives the IT department a starting point for talking with executives from different business areas about the new functions that should be activated. And this ultimately helps companies keep their SAP ERP systems up to date without having to undertake a lengthy upgrade.
BFP 2.0 is faster, simpler, and smarter than the previous tool, and these improvements further benefit customers. With the new self-service approach, customers can generate the reports on their own in just a few minutes, have greater flexibility to share results internally, and can make decisions about implementing new functionalities more quickly than before.
Interested in finding out what this means for you? Generate your own business function prediction here.