Planning in SAP Analytics Cloud

Photo of Harmen Klapwijk

Written by Harmen Klapwijk in Analytics


For some time now, SAP SAC (Sap Analytics Cloud) has been the strategic choice for planning. SAP Business planning and Consolidation for S/4HANA and SAP Business planning and Consolidation for BW/4HANA can be considered as an alternative for specific scenarios.

Any other versions of SAP Business planning and Consolidation are not recommended for new implementations. This is shown in the picture below which is provided by SAP. In this blog I would like to take a dive into the different options for planning in the cloud with the use of SAP SAC What is the right approach for planning in the cloud and do you still need SAP Business planning and Consolidation (BPC) to plan effectively? Is it stand-alone planning in the cloud, planning with an import-export connection from SAP BPC classic or is it planning with a live connection from SAP BPC embedded? It might as well be a hybrid scenario with the live connection, the import-export connection and some planning in Business Planning & Consolidation. In the next section I’d like to highlight the previously mentioned options.

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Stand-alone planning in the cloud

SAP provides a large set of input schedules and reports right out of the box if you pick planning directly in the cloud. These planning schedules are not connected to any other SAP system and only reside in the cloud, therefore it is the Stand-Alone planning version. SAP provides CAPEX planning, Sales planning, profitability planning, Product cost planning and cost center planning. Next to these planning options there are also options for balance sheet planning, Profit and Loss planning and Cash-flow planning and reporting. Apart from the planning in the cloud, these models can also be connected to Analysis for Office where planning can be done via Analysis for Office (AFO) and stored in the cloud.

Classic Business planning and Consolidation with SAP Analytics Cloud Import-Export connection

If you are already utilizing an older setup of Business planning and Consolidation in a classic system there is an option to use those planning models in SAC. You’ll get the power of insightfull vizualisation of the data in your planning system with the option to plan into the future. Combine that with the option of data triggers and planning trees and you have a user friendly addition on the BPC planning models.The planning in SAC on a classic BPC setup works with a, so called, import-export connection. This connection is well suited for smaller datasets as it loads the data from the database into the cloud, masterdata and all. In SAC all the functionalities that are available for the stand-alone planning are also available for the planning with the import-export connection. To make sure that the data in the Business planning and Consolidation model in BW is still the same as the data in SAC, the specific intersection of the database that is being planned with SAC is locked for planning via AfO and the EPM add-in. Any data that is planned in non-locked sections of the planning model is loaded later into the SAC model. This setup makes planning with a classic Business planning and Consolidation model near real-time.

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Embedded Business planning and Consolidation with SAC Live connection

There is a third option for planning in SAC in combination with Business planning and Consolidation. If the BPC model you have running is a embedded setup, the option is there to use the live connection. With the live connection, the model you use in SAC is a representation of a query on the embedded model. In general you have some planning enabled queries to use in the embedded planning model, these planning queries can be loaded as a model into SAC. The advantage of the live connection is that there is no data loaded into SAC, everything you see in the planning dashboard is a direct view of the data in the database. Saving newly planned data in the planning grid in SAC will save the data in the database, not in the cloud. That gives the option to run any calculations directly on the database as the data is only available there. Calculation must be done via FOX coding and added to a planning function and ultimately to a planning sequence as those can be triggered from SAC.Authorizations within the embedded model in BW are also used in the SAC environment, as the data is only available there. The look and feel of SAC with the live connection is very limited, it has the same posibilities as Analysis for Office, but within a web interface instead of excel.

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Pro’s and Con’s

Stand-alone planing is an option if there is no SAP Business planning and Consolidation system available. It comes with a large set of pre-defined schedules and is easy in the setup. There are some drawbacks of this setup, as data is only available in the cloud and if you’d like to load the data back to BW the only way to do so is through a dump from the cloud and an upload in BW. Any calculations that need to be added to the system can only be done via advanced formulas.

Import-Export connection

As for the classic Business planning and Consolidation option in combination with SAC, there are some disadvantages of that solution. Master and transactional data is loaded into the cloud, which causes another data duplication in the BW-SAC environment. Not only is data duplicated from BW to Business planning and consolidation but also to SAC. Furthermore, any deletions with optimalisations in the database do not result in a deletion in SAC.
The authorizations that are set on the Business Planning and Consolidation model are not repeated into the cloud. Therefore, the authorizations have to be setup in the SAC model seperatly and that is prone to mismatches.
Next, as mentioned before, the data is loaded into the cloud and dependent of the licencing model, you might run into the limits of that licence. Given that notion, SAP Business planning and Consolidation with SAC is best used with smaller data sets. An example would be using SAC for the sales planning after which the data can be loaded back into BPC for the full blown Profit and Loss planning. Looking on the bright side, the import-export connection provides a broad spectrum of possibilities in the visualisation of the data, including some elaborate representations like time series planning and the value driver trees.

Live connection

The live connection also has some downsides; there is limited functionality in the interface, only grid-like planning is available and no fancy planning options can be used. So no time series planning, no value driver trees, no smart insight or smart predict. (although that seems to be on the roadmap for Q2 in 2021).
The upsides of the live connection are powerful, as authorizations are directly taken from SAP BW and data only resides in the BW database, nothing needs to be replicated to the cloud. The data usage is real-time because the data in the dashboard is a direct view of the BW database.


If you would ask me what the best option would be for your specific planning scenario, I’d have to say that it really depends on what you are currently using. In any case, other than the stand-alone planning in the cloud, I would suggest a hybrid scenario where part of the planning process is moved from Business planning and Consolidation into SAC. In the ideal world the complex data planning scenarios are done via Business Planning and Consolidation and Line of Business planning or specific planning scenarios are done via SAC. This hybrid approach combines the best of both worlds and allows you to use BPC and SAC in parallel, depending on the requirements of the respective planning process, and to combine the results in the end.

About the author

Photo of Harmen Klapwijk
Harmen Klapwijk

Harmen is an Senior Application Consultant and developer at Expertum. He has broad experience in SAP BPC, both in Consolidation and in Budgeting use. Furthermore he’s specialised on SAP Analytics Cloud, in particular for planning in the cloud.

Read more articles by Harmen Klapwijk

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