Thursday, December 20, 2007

Express Planning Gives Managers Access to Plan Data in Multiple Systems

Express Planning is a self-service Web functionality in mySAP ERP 2005 that gives managers the ability to extract the data they need during the budgeting process, even if the data is in a different system. They also can write data back to various modules and monitor variances without any external help. Express Planning masks the system complexities from the manager.

Years ago I visited a customer site to talk about planning in the CO module. I produced pages of notes about the spreadsheets sent out to collect budget data from managers and how the company consolidated these sheets before entering the data in CO. Today, those spreadsheets have largely been replaced by Web-based planning applications and the controlling department has the job of approving and rejecting individual plans.

While Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM)-Business Planning and Simulation (BPS) and SAP Business Intelligence (BI)-BPS changed the face of planning for many users, questions remained about how to include data that resides exclusively in R/3 (lists of equipment assigned to each employee, for example). Also data had to be retracted to CO that could have been written there in the first place, if the appropriate services had been available.

Express Planning is the answer to those questions. It is a framework around existing planning applications that allows organizations to include planning applications from multiple systems in a single roadmap. It allows the planner to set status information and add comments for each planning step and for the planning coordinator to approve or reject each planning step and provide comments. It is designed to be self-service — a task that the manager can perform with no external assistance, making the manager responsible for arriving at his budget data and later for monitoring variances against this budget.

In a series of two articles, I will show you the steps required to implement Express Planning in SAP NetWeaver Portal and in mySAP ERP Core Component (ECC 5.0). In the first article, I’ll focus on the manager and show you how to configure Manager Self-Service (MSS) for the purposes of Express Planning. In the second article, I’ll look at the expert user or approver, and how to send Express Planning out to the managers, monitor the response rate, and approve the results using a collaboration room in SAP NetWeaver Portal.

The example I’m using in this article is for annual planning, but you could use Express Planning in other types of planning such as forecasting or shorter-term planning as well.

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