When it comes to writeback of the data back to the source system, the first concern that arises is “Will all hell break lose when users are given free rein to modify the numbers?” In SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC), the sanctity of data is preserved through maintaining versions for each fact that is to be modified. The freedom to juggle numbers is provided through private version which remains local to the user without affecting actual data and communication of the final numbers is made possible through the option to publish said private versions. This blog aims to guide you through the basics of what a version is and how to manage it in SAC.
When individual store managers are asked to enter an estimate of the inventory required by their respective stores, all that the department manager has to do is create a private version for himself and delegate the work of data input to his subordinates through calendar tasks. Once the final numbers are arrived at from all the store managers, the department manager can either modify the numbers or publish directly to a public version. Note that calendar tasks are the only scenario in which a private version can be accessed by a user other than the creator unless published.
One jargon that might puzzle newbies in planning is the distinction between version category and version. Although any number of versions can be maintained for each fact, each version will fall into any of the following categories –
- Actual – In our inventory use case, the actual quantity procured. This would be updated weekly or monthly based on the nature of the organization’s SCM wing.
- Budget – This is the allocated inventory amount, usually set at the beginning of each financial year to keep tabs on the limit of purchase.
- Forecast – updated at frequent intervals based on the updated actuals. This is a good indicator of whether or not the organization will stay within the allocated limits if it proceeds in the present trend. SAC itself has three forecasting techniques available for a quick estimate – Automatic forecast, Linear regression and triple exponential smoothing.
- Planning – Updated by users based on external indicators. If the store manager anticipates a 10 % increase in demand in his area, this could be updated in the inventory’s planning version.
- Rolling Forecast – Instead of forecast working on the whole history of data, rolling forecast specifies look-back and look-forward limits.
Creating a private version
Let’s consider that the head of the ‘Technology’ department wants to take a copy of the budget allocated to his department and wants to make some adjustments to it based on recent social media trends. A currency conversion-enabled planning model is created and consumed in the story as covered in previous blogs in our planning series. The account for Amount allocated for procurement to each department has a currency associated with it. The Product Category is filtered to Technology and a private version is created in the steps that follow.
- From the Tools menu, select the Version Management icon.
- The existing private and public versions can be managed from this cockpit.
- Then click ‘Copy’ icon in the Budget public version and copy it as a planning version. While creating a private version, it is possible to limit the scope of the copied data to one of the following:Scope of Data.
- We choose to just copy the data for the Technology department and choose ‘Copy the visible data’. This option takes into account the filter on the current table and copies only data in the filtered scope. It is possible to change the scope of filters by selecting ‘Choose which data to copy’.
- Since currency conversion is relevant in this model, we can specify the currency of the new version and also specify a specific conversion rate version, if any are available in the conversion table. All the currency conversions available in the cross calculations will be listed in the Change conversion dropdown.
- A private version gets created as follows:
- Now we can perform a multitude of actions of this private version like data entry, assignment, allocation and later publish as a new/existing public version. Here the user has the ability to perform the following actions under more options:
- Undo or redo any action
- Traceback through the history of changes and perform an undo
- Share to peers for review with ‘Read’ access and share back to the inter-department head with ‘read and write’ access.
- Delete the entire version
- View details of a particular version
Once satisfied with the changes, the user has the option to publish it as a public version. Private versions are maintained at the individual user level and aren’t updated in the master data of the data model whereas the public versions are updated in the master data of the version dimension.
When Publish is selected, we can choose the existing public version to be updated. Note that the values outside the scope of the current table filter will also be affected. So, we choose to create a new public version. We can change the name and the category of the version at the time of publishing as well.
Any change can also be directly done to a public version also. For the changes to reflect in the model, we need to select the publish option in version management. If we do not want the changes to persist, we may choose to revert the changes in a public version in the version management tab.
Note that although any number of versions can be created as Actuals, it is best practice to have only one Actuals version in the model to prevent ambiguity.
Versions in Analytic application
The version management options available in the SAC story module are also available in the Analytic Application as well in the form of APIs. The application can be configured to execute any of the required APIs on click of a widget.
Commentary and Versions
SAC has already provided commenting feature in BI applications to allow the users to collaborate real-time in a shared application using widget level commenting. When a planning enabled model is used in a table, the comments can be entered at the data cell level. From 2019.19 version the data point comments in private version can also be published while publishing the version. This can be achieved by checking the ‘Include Comments’ option while publishing a version.
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