Insight into SAP IBP

As part of the AWF working group “Scheduling and Production Control with SAP”, we were able to gain an insight into the new software product SAP IBP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain. The solution shown involved planning sales figures down to country or customer level. We know from our own experience that the complexity of this task is a challenge due to the sheer volume of data involved. The presentation of the results is just as complicated, as the aim is to obtain a quick overview of what can be millions of data records and at the same time obtain detailed results at the touch of a button.

The impression of the SAP IBP was a complete disappointment!

The results of the IBP were presented in Excel tables. We were immediately asked whether we could see the results directly in IBP. We had to learn that the Excel interface is part of the IBP. SAP relies strategically on Microsoft Excel? That’s how it looks!
The tables shown were very sober without many graphic elements. No color design that could contribute to understanding.

I have seen many Excel solutions for sales planning, but this solution looked very modest. It can be acknowledged here that the project was not yet complete and improvements are still pending. Nevertheless, I would have expected an appealing interface out-of-the-box.

For me, however, SAP’s strategic decision in favor of Excel is completely incomprehensible. Sure, anyone can use Excel, and this may lead to a good acceptance of this solution by users. But what about the many disadvantages of an Excel solution?

These include

  • High potential for errors with manual entries
  • Leading zeros are removed (e.g. for material numbers)
  • Incorrect formulas (who hasn’t had this happen to them?)
  • Sorting error
  • After a short time, various files with different data statuses are circulating through the house – chaos!

And what about convenience functions in the user interface that are available in other products?

  • Set up your own planning nodes, at whose level you can plan directly and the individual values change accordingly
  • Percentage adjustment of the values
  • Absolute adjustment of the values (i.e. not simply by overwriting)
  • Flexible addition of key figures, classifications and other properties

How often do our new customers approach us and say: “We want to get away from this Excel dilemma!” And SAP is moving in this direction with the IBP! Incomprehensible.

Best regards

-Bernd Reineke-

Picture of Dr. Bernd Reineke

Dr. Bernd Reineke

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