The bridge that closes the gap between business and IT
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It is not uncommon to see all sorts of creative excel files, at a customer, filled with macro’s and vlookups to combine multiple local data sources with a central data dump. Not only are these files very user specific, meaning that knowledge about the logic of the excel file will most likely disappear when the author leaves the company. It also leaves room for error and is very time consuming to build form scratch every time you need to update it with new central data.
This is where SAP BW Workspaces provides a time saving solution to combine your local data with central data without the hassle of macro’s and vlookups.
BW Workspaces is SAP’s bridge that closes the gap between the business user and IT. It’s not new: it came with support package 5 for SAP BW 7.3. It enables the business user to upload its local files to a dedicated area and combine these local files with central BW data. While its maintenance and governance is kept central with IT, BW Workspaces offers the business user the flexibility to react quickly to new and changing requirements.
The picture that SAP illustrates here seems very promising. However, in reality it works a bit differently. In this blog I will first quickly introduce you to BW Workspaces and in my next blog I will go more into detail on what it’s like to work with BW Workspaces.
Configuring your BW Workspace
Let me explain how to set up a Workspace. You define the BW Workspace in BW where you can set parameters, like maximum memory usage, mandatory prefix, master data creation and the maximum number of Local Providers that you can create. Furthermore, you can expose your central data (central providers) in BW to Workspaces by selecting the InfoCubes you want to use in your Workspace. This is all done in transaction RSWSP.
Local Providers in BW Workspaces
Through an online portal accessed by transaction NWBC, you can view and edit your own Workspace.
This is where you create your Local Providers and Local Composite Providers. The Local Providers are created using the flat files from the business users. This can be either .csv files or .xlsx files.
Uploading your local file is fairly easy and familiar, with settings like the date display, csv separator and header/first data row.
Before you upload your local provider, you can edit the columns by indicating whether they contain Key Figures or Characteristics and by stating their type. An interesting type for the Characteristics is the InfoObject type, which allows you to use an existing InfoObject as a template for the properties of the column.
If you place a checkmark in the Key Figure column, you can select different types of Key Figures to store numerical values like integers.
When all this is set and done you can proceed by uploading and activating the Local Provider, which gives you the option to either append data to an already existing Local Provider and thereby enhancing it with new data. Additionally, you can delete duplicates in the columns that you select to be compared.
Putting it together in the Composite Provider
The next step is to actually connect the central data with the local data, by creating a Local Composite Provider. The Composite Provider is Local in the sense that the Composite Providers only exist in a particular workspace.
By performing a union between your central BW data and the Local Composite Provider, you expose the selected fields from BW to the Local Composite Provider in your Workspace.
Clicking on the details button of a link allows you to connect the different providers with a shared unique key figure. This is also the area to select your dedicated field, the fields of the Local and Central Providers which can be exposed to the Composite Provider.
When the required fields are selected and the connection between the central and local data has been established, you can create a standard Query on top of your Composite Provider. The field names can be edited.
The standard Query will select all the Key Figures and Characteristics and make them available for reporting. You cannot edit or create any formulas here; you can only create a simple Query. However, you can create a template Query if you use a MultiProvider, referring to this template query will create the Query according to your own standards and functional needs.
When you have checked and saved your Local Composite Provider, it will be activated and ready for use.
You can use Local Composite Providers to build custom queries on in the BEx Query Designer. After that, you can use these Local Composite Providers as a source of data in Lumira for example.
In my next blog I will discuss a few use-cases of Workspaces, like introducing GeoMapping in Lumira with the help of Workspaces. And I will discuss BW Workspaces’ benefits and limitations that I came across while using it.