SAP Business Intelligence Resolutions for 2012

Much has changed in the past year, but my new year’s resolutions from last year still seem relevant.

Happy New Year

Last week, I began a new project helping a customer upgrade from SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 SP2 to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 (BI4). We’re having multiple discussions about which content needs to be moved over, old content and users that need hauled to the curb, the “best practices” that need to continue, and the “worst practices” that need to die. This customer came from “legacy Crystal Enterprise”, which thankfully means that there’s no Desktop Intelligence- roughly 80% Crystal Reports and 20% Web Intelligence. Explorer BW Accelerated and Dashboards are on a BI4 pilot box that’s about ready to go into a small production period before the “big” BI4 environment is ready. Teradata 13. All good stuff.

I’ve been poking through the XI 3.1 Central Management Console (CMC) to decide what should be purged or ignored before running the Upgrade Management Tool into a validation environment. I’m also trying to see if there are any policies or procedures that are evident from the CMC that haven’t been discussed in our kickoff meetings.

I re-read my SAP Business Intelligence Resolutions for 2011 post from last year (available here) to see if it would jumpstart my brain on anything I might have overlooked. At least for 2012, the ten resolutions I mentioned are still good advice, with just a few tweaks.

1. Upgrade or retire older SAP BusinessObjects and Crystal Enterprise versions

Still valid. If you’re not planning to adopt BI 4.0 in 2012, you at least need to get to XI 3.1. Earlier versions of the platform are no longer supported by SAP. And your IT department is bringing in new PCs preloaded with Windows 7 and Microsoft Internet Explorer 9, the latter requiring SAP BusinessObjects Enterprise XI 3.1 Service Pack 5 (SP5) or higher (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Support for Windows 7) . Check your current BusinessObjects version’s Product Availability Matrix (PAM) to see where it falls short before the help desk calls start pouring in.

2. Halt all active Desktop Intelligence development

Still good advice. It’s like a smoking cessation program for your business intelligence system.

3. Audit existing Desktop Intelligence reports with an eye toward retirement

Still good advice.

If your team retired all Desktop Intelligence last year, make sure you take time to celebrate the milestone. Oh, and shut down the Desktop Intelligence Cache, Processing, and Job servers.

4. Create a project plan and time line to retire all Desktop Intelligence reports

Ditto.

5. Replace cumbersome advanced rights with custom Access Levels

The system I’m currently working with has a combination of advanced rights and custom access levels. I’m assuming that the former go back to Crystal Enterprise or XI R2. On my current project, I’m going to make the case to replace advanced rights in the BI4 validation environment before moving projects into production with the Life Cycle Manager (LCM).

5. Revisit Active Directory or LDAP authentication

Still good advice. My current project is already 100% LDAP.

6. Celebrate diversity

Last year, I encouraged Web Intelligence users to look at Crystal Reports and vice versa. This year, I would extend that to include Analysis (4.0), Xcelsius/Dashboards, and Explorer. If you’re not using these tools already, take an executive sponsor to lunch and plan a pilot, no matter how small, for 2012. Are your C-level executives roaming the halls with tablets? It’s time to do mobile pilot as well.

I’ve noticed that a lot of organizations, both large and small, are hesitant to deploy desktop software to end users. This means no Web Intelligence Rich Client/Desktop, Live Office, Analysis for Microsoft Office (4.0 only), or Xcelsius/Dashboards. But all of these tools extend the usefulness of Microsoft Excel, your users’ favorite BI tool. Read that last sentence again – I’ll wait for you. I recognize the deployment challenges of desktop applications (I frequently hear that Frank in desktop support is a real pain to work with), but you are missing a huge opportunity to meet your users where they live. I hope to tackle this topic with more depth in a future blog post.

On the browser-only front, remember that SAP BusinessObjects Explorer can visualize Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, not just universes and accelerated SAP BW.

7. Create a BI steering committee

Still good on this one, I think. Has anyone presented at the annual ASUG conference about this topic?

8. Read Wayne Eckerson’s Performance Dashboards

What I said last year:

Performance Dashboards: Measuring, Monitoring, and Managing Your Business is the single best business intelligence book that I’ve encountered. It’s comprehensive, vendor-neutral, and should be read and discussed by both IT and business professionals in your organization.

Wayne’s book is still my favorite “if you only have time to read only one book”, regardless of whether you are a business user or a techie. If you disagree, or have another “must read” BI book, I’d love to hear about it.

The intrepid BI manager will grab the key people on their team, a similar number of power users and executives, cater in lunch once a week (Panera Bread is really good for this), and have a book club for no more than a dozen folks. Tackle one chapter a week. No food throwing during the “Why the business and IT mistrust each other” chapter, please.

9. Start an internal user group

I’m still a huge believer in internal user groups and will be dedicating a huge chunk of my user adoption presentation to them at the upcoming SAP Insider BI 2012 conference.

10. Join ASUG

Yes, I know. Somebody in your organization is going to have to dig into their wallet. But there’s great value in the local chapter meetings, the webcasts, and influence councils. And don’t tell your funding source, but the annual ASUG SAP BusinessObjects conference (SBOUC) is at Walt Disney World (see related article, 2012 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conference). Shhhh! Membership details are available here.

So how did I do? Is there something on your team’s new year’s resolutions that I’ve missed? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Author: Dallas Marks

I am a business intelligence architect, author, and trainer. I help organizations harness the power of analytics, primarily with SAP BusinessObjects products. An active blogger, SAP Mentor and co-author of the SAP Press book SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence: The Comprehensive Guide, I prefer piano keyboards over computer keyboards when not blogging or tweeting about business intelligence.

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