How intuitive is Interactive Planning Book from SAP APO (SDP94)?

How intuitive is Interactive Planning Book from SAP APO (SDP94)?

Unfortunately, you’re most likely to say: “not much” for the nicest amongst you – and probably “not a bit” for those of you being used to MS Excel user experience. As an accomplished SAP professional working with APO since 1998 (DP or SNP mainly), this is the sad truth I’ve been confronted with while collecting the many complaints about the lack of intuitiveness of SAP APO/SDP94…

A perfectible yet widely used solution

In 1998, SAP actually tried to be up to the level of Excel features by unveiling a kind of pivot table in its central transaction, the so-called “Interactive Planning Book”. SAP was probably too optimistic or eager to showcase how they would approach the concept of pivot tables. I think it was definitely a mistake.

This being said, APO however remains the leading APS solution to this day – despite these weaknesses. Any customer really can find their way around with the combined marketing power of SAP and incredible worldwide support available. I truly hope this will be available yet for a few more years after the launch of IBP.

IBP now turns to Excel!

Interestingly, IBP no longer offers the awkward way to manipulate data introduced in Interactive Planning Book. SAP simply and rightly decided that data management for the many planners in Supply Chain within IBP would be done in…. Excel!!

Users like it. Customers like it. IS-IT fear it. I personally think it is a very good step, and only sensible decision to effectively enhance User Experience with IT-IS solutions. Why wasting budget and time in dealing with data entry layout and format, when Excel offers such an excellent interface? Users can interact their own way, however abiding by necessary rules such as database access and central integrity. This really provides a high degree of agility and flexibility. Big thanks to the SAP teams for letting this realization finally play across their mind!

Great, and for those not switching to IBP now?

Not all of you will be new lucky IBP users immediately however, and issues will remain for some time for the many. So, either you keep on with your endless cut & paste routines between APO and Excel – or you adopt a smart tool providing a full interface for any SAP module into Excel, and even step up to a dedicated extension for APO-DP. We at XSBS can offer both.

Our specifically developed X’Apps (Planning Book and Demand Planning for APO) bring a comprehensive integration of APO and Excel, comparable to what you can achieve with IBP. We even can propose connectivity to any other SAP components with dedicated X’Apps.

Check our website and demos to see for yourself. And be assured this is only a very moderate investment. Our article illustration is a simple history analysis connected to APO-DP with our Planning Book off-the-shelf X’App. It takes you less than 5′ to obtain the same, in full compliance with your IT Department.

On top of niche elements to better manage planning books in APO, we offer additional macro functions to smooth user interface like choice lists, user personalization in SDP94 beyond the standard, calculation functions, etc. Reading data dynamically between planning areas without TSCOPY anymore; providing a smooth integration between your planning areas, easy alert monitoring to allow user skipping the alert profile maintenance to relieve AMON1 from the cumbersome setting part; parallelizing jobs like never ; are all things you could achieve with your current APO installation.

Feel free to contact us to learn more!

Daniel LelloucheCEO and Founder – XSBS-DowapSolutions
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About the Author

Daniel Lellouche

Daniel has been focusing on SAP since 1997. While working for SAP, Nestlé and Danone as a senior SAP consultant specializing in Supply Chain, Daniel created DOWAP in 2001 to concentrate all the Supply Chain and SAP expertise accumulated on these projects, and offer it to many other clients in designing and implementing their ERP solution. DOWAP has since been growing steadily, and is now a recognized leader and value-generator for SAP SCM solutions in Europe. Daniel’s acute understanding of the business challenges of his clients led him to create XSBS in 2010, to complement his vision of a fully effective and leveraged ERP solution.