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The road to the new SAC model type

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Motivation for the new SAC model type

Data modeling is a key component of analytics and planning applications. That’s why it’s important to integrate data from different sources, combine it together and yield powerful information from it. In the SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC), the data foundation uses the SAC models as a basis. In business management terminology, a model is a representation of the business data of an organization or business area.

The main reason for introducing the new SAC model type at mid-second quarter in 2021 is the consolidation of key figures and accounts in the planning models, which enables a significant expansion of the structure of a classic account model with key figures. The new SAC model type offers greater flexibility to give structure to both accounts and key figures. This allows multiple key figures with individual aggregation settings to be configured and improves compatibility with data sources that are based on multiple key figures. The existing classic SAC model type only supports the cost structure to add invoices and only uses individual key figures columns to save the values, similar to the BPC standard data modeling type. A complex data transformation to the cost structure is therefore often necessary for data integration into the classic SAC model type.

Features of the new SAC model type

  • Flexible modeling: With this new modeling approach you can implement different scenarios, such as, for example, planning models with shared accounts and key figures, with different currency values, with quantity values or also models without accounts and only with key figures. Any possible applications can be realized with the new model type. The use of the account dimension is optional and you can decide whether the settings for key figures or accounts have preference in the calculation logic.

  • Optimized calculations: It’s possible to create calculated key figures in the new SAC model and to reuse them in multiple stories. The calculations are only “virtual” and do not persist in the database. The calculated key figures therefore cannot be used in the Advanced Formula Data Actions. The option for calculations at the Story level remains available, but these types of calculations are not available in other stories.

In addition, it is now also possible to create calculations with the numeric attributes of the dimensions.

  • Currency conversion functionality: You can also use multiple base currency key figures and then add conversion key figures. This makes multiple currency conversion scenarios possible (planning to transaction and/or company currency).

In the tables of stories you can carry out the planning entry for each base key figure or currency conversion figure, such as transaction and group currencies, and immediately display them for all related currencies. In addition, there is also the currency conversion Data Action type for currency conversion between base key figures.

  • Performance optimization: Load time for data selection and processing in Stories and Data Actions has been improved through the precise aggregation of data from multiple key figures (different columns in the database) instead of the selection of account dimension values.
  • Data integration: As I mentioned at the beginning, the model with key figures is better suited for the structure of data from different source systems, including SAP S/4HANA, SAP BW and SAP IBP. Data integration is usually quicker and requires fewer transformations, as data can be directly imported from multiple key figures.

The workflows for data import have been substantially reworked with the new SAC model. The modeling is more intuitive and there are different steps for data preparation, also for source/target mapping and the import validation. It is also possible to track the change history for support in reproducing the import jobs configuration.

The existing transformation options (merge, replace, split, etc.) are still supported. The improvement and extension of the Wrangling Expression Language (WEL) brings significant added value with new functions for better support for user-defined transformations.

And last but not least, there is an optimization that allows for the modification of existing Data Import Jobs to support changed transformation or mapping requirements. This option is painfully lacking in the classic models, where for any change (in the model or in the transformation logic) the Import Jobs data have to manually recreated from scratch. The visual hints that indicate the current progress status are also very helpful.

Limitations of the new SAC model type

Currently (December 2021) the new SAC model type has temporary limitations that will remain until the full functionality of the classic SAC model type is added. Here is a summary of the critical limitations.

Modeling

  • Copying between classic and new SAC models is not supported in cross-model Data Action copy steps. Instead, you must use the LINK function and the Advanced Formula Data Action for copying between the classic and new model.
  • The following time-specific formulas are currently not yet supported when using key figures: YOY, CAGR and SMA.

Data integration

  • Before the data import, the dimension elements must exist in the SAC. During the data import, the new model cannot update new master data in a dimension. The use of Public Dimensions is recommended, especially if there are many Dimension Members. The master data import still uses the original Wrangling process (from the classic model).
  • There is also still not an option to build models that were created from a CSV/Excel file or a data source (first data workflow). Currently this option can only be used for the classic models. For the new SAC models, the model structure must first be defined on an empty model. This is followed by the data import process.

Stories and applications

  • The blending functionality model is not supported when the model includes an account dimension.
  • Thresholds in the tables are not supported if the model contains a cost dimension.
  • GeoMap Reporting is not supported.
  • Copying and pasting data between key figures with currencies is not supported.

Migration from the classic to the new SAC model type

The classic SAC model type is currently being phased out. The classic SAC model type implementations will continue to work as before and the customers can carry out the migration to the new SAC model type at their own pace.

Otherwise, you have to migrate to the new SAC model type to benefit from the extended functions mentioned above. The button “Migrate to the new model type” in the modeling area is available but cannot be used in all cases.

Notes for the SAC model type migration:

  • The currency conversion setting cannot be inactive in the model.
  • After completing the migration, only the master and transaction data are converted to the new model. Dependent artifacts such as, for example, Import Jobs, Data Actions or Stories, require a manual conversion.
  • The migration cannot be undone.
  • The migrated models that are used in the SAP Analytics Cloud Add-In for Microsoft Office must be inserted in an existing workbook again.
  • After the migration, the values are saved in the “SignedData” key figure and the implemented logic must be adapted accordingly for the existing Stories and Data Actions.

 

Summary

As you can see, the available migration functionality is not sufficient for most classic SAC model type implementations. It can therefore be very time-consuming if many dependent objects, such as Import Jobs, Stories and Data Actions, must be converted manually.

For a new implementation, the SAC model type is definitely recommended as this is also the strategic orientation of SAP. The important planning functions can already be used, and can also be extended with new features that can be used to implement all possible applications. Before a final decision is made about the SAC model type realization, the limitations strictly must be reviewed. The evaluation should focus primarily on the reporting requirement, since most of the important limitations lie in this area. Because the limitations change over time, you should definitely also consult SAP Help and the SAP Road Map Explorer in making your decision.

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