The Pros and Cons Behind Two Enterprise Universe Design Approaches

  • by Adam Getz, Manager – Business Intelligence, CGI Federal
  • January 13, 2012
Designing SAP BusinessObjects universes for an entire organization takes skill and knowledge of best practices. Learn about two unique approaches for designing and deploying BusinessObjects universes at the enterprise level so that all database tables and fields from every business unit, department, and subject area are incorporated.
Key Concept

A single comprehensive universe is a universe design concept in which all fact and dimension tables of the entire organization are included. In contrast, a subject-area-based universe is a universe design concept in which each universe contains only a subset of the organization’s fact and dimension tables — namely, only the tables needed for one business area.

Organizations typically consist of numerous departments and business areas, all of which have their own requirements for reporting and analysis of data. Multiple business areas (e.g., accounting, finance, sales, operations) use BusinessObjects to generate their reports and conduct their data analysis. Subsequently, BusinessObjects universes need to be designed and developed to meet the needs of these separate and unique business areas. You can satisfy the reporting needs of these business areas in two ways:

  • With the development of a single comprehensive universe that incorporates the reporting needs for all business areas. This technique incorporates all the organization’s fact and dimension tables.
  • With the development of smaller subject-area-based universes that incorporate the reporting needs for just one business area. This technique incorporates the minimum number of fact and dimension tables needed for one business area.

The universe model must consider and incorporate common tables of data that all business areas require access to. These common tables of data are referred to as conformed dimensions and are applicable to both single comprehensive and the subject-area-based universes. Common examples of conformed dimensions include date, customer, vendor, employee, and product.

Single comprehensive universes can incorporate multiple instances of a conformed dimension with the use of aliases (e.g., a conformed dimension customer can exist multiple times in a universe). In contrast, however, the subject-area-based universes contain only a single instance of a conformed dimension, with instances of the conformed dimension being repeated among multiple universes (e.g., a conformed dimension customer exists once in a universe, but can exist in multiple universes).

Adam Getz

Adam Getz currently serves as a Manager, Business Intelligence for CGI Federal. In this position, he is leading a large business intelligence and data warehousing implementation for a federal client.  He is a thought leader in the field of information technology and an expert in the deployment of leading business intelligence, database management, and data integration products. He has presented at a variety of local, national, and international events, including the 2006 BusinessObjects International Conference, 2007 Oracle BIWA Summit, 2008 Oracle Open World, and 2010 and 2011 ASUG SAP BusinessObjects User Conferences. In addition, Adam is the creator and main author of, a website, portfolio, and blog that provides rich technical and functional content to business intelligence and data warehousing professionals. He has also published numerous technology white papers that have focused on various topics within business intelligence and data warehousing. Adam currently serves as the chairperson of the Washington DC Business Objects User Group.

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