SAP.info: Last year at Koehler Paper, you were one of the pioneers when it came to running SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse (BW) on SAP HANA. That would suggest that you will soon be one of the first to make the switch to the SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA…
Jörg Behnisch: Not at all. No doubt that will represent a technical paradigm shift – comparable with the switch 20 years ago from the mainframe world based on R/2 to the client-server world of R/3. Priorities at Koehler in the next two to three years, however, are on the implementation of our IT program management, which will focus on further standardizing our SAP applications and the MES (Manufacturing Execution System), and providing IT services for the new business sector of Koehler Renewable Energy. Other projects will then include the migration of our SAP ERP, SAP Advanced Planner & Optimization, and SAP NetWeaver Process Integration systems to SAP HANA. Again, I am quite sure that real-time technology will significantly alter the SAP application landscape. The end result will be “real-time integration”, which was the original vision of R/2.
This is why we developed the SAP NetWeaver BW on SAP HANA project: We wanted to get to know how it worked with SAP HANA, and find out for ourselves what the technology could do. There will undoubtedly be plenty of other pioneers using SAP Business Suite on SAP HANA. As it is, we deploy a large number of high-grade modified systems, which would mean the costs would currently be prohibitively high.
But you didn’t discount SAP HANA altogether, as is clear with your SAP NetWeaver BW project.
The costs were transparent. Not only this, but our business warehouse was outdated, unstable, and produced inconsistent data modeling. SAP HANA promised simpler data modeling. Pre-modeling is no longer necessary at interim levels, which saves considerable time.
Which means you are now in a position to offer your employees ad-hoc analyses…
Absolutely. Standard reports have already been available since November, but the disadvantage of these is that they always take the same form, that is, they are standardized. As of the beginning of February, our inside sales team, heads of department, sales managers, and of course our controllers have been able to create their own analyses, without having to “run them through IT”. With ad-hoc reporting, people can decide for themselves which figures they want to analyze in more detail.
New technologies are often greeted with reluctance by end users. What have your experiences shown?
Although our SQL database has been allowed to run alongside the new technology, hardly anyone uses it anymore. Also, fewer and fewer employees are using the standard reports because they can find the answers to very specific questions themselves with “ad-hoc” analyses, which would not be possible with standard reports. Bearing in mind the fact that, previously, a specific query had to be submitted for every analysis, ad‑hoc reporting represents a huge step forward.
One other aspect worth noting in relation to ad-hoc reporting is that it’s a fun tool to use – it has a certain Apple flair about it. What do you think about the layout, and is it easy to use?
We made the decision to use SAP HANA Analysis. Although it’s an SAP tool that may not exactly be best-in-class, it suits SAP HANA technology perfectly, and delivers results in ad-hoc reporting at the speeds we need. It’s a little bit like Excel, and this makes it easier for most people to use because almost everyone is familiar with the Microsoft spreadsheet program. Furthermore, the program works with the SAP BusinessObjects tools dashboard and SAP Crystal Reports. The only difference is that their results take far longer.