SAP NetWeaver Portal: Initiate and Track the Planning Process with Collaboration Rooms

  • by Janet Salmon, Product Manager, SAP AG
  • March 15, 2006
The Business Unit Analyst role shipped in mySAP ERP 2005 replaces the spreadsheets and distribution lists that used to organize the process of gathering and monitoring the submission of budget data with a collaboration room. Learn how it is designed specifically to select the managers who need to plan, send out workflow tasks to these managers, track the responses, and monitor and approve the planning data.
Key Concept

Collaboration rooms are virtual team rooms within SAP NetWeaver Portal that enable users to organize themselves in teams and projects independent of their physical locations. Access to the room itself and the pages and applications within the room is controlled by roles, meaning that you can give the administrator and business unit analyst access to different pages and applications from the managers. They can use the room to share information for the participating roles, such as access to guidelines or policies, and to initiate and track workflow tasks.

Collaboration rooms are delivered as part of SAP NetWeaver. In mySAP ERP 2005, based on SAP NetWeaver 2004s, a room template is delivered for budgeting that has been enhanced with information contained in ERP Central Component (ECC) for the purposes of organizing a planning round. Unlike collaboration rooms that exist entirely in the portal environment, the planning round also exists in ECC and requires the latest edition of ECC for the customizing settings relating to the planning process.

In my last article, I talked about Express Planning, a Web application with a roadmap that guides the manager through a series of planning steps. You can start Express Planning by including a URL for the Web application in an email and sending it out to the managers. However, out-of-date distribution lists and clumsy spreadsheet-based status reports can make tracking a struggle. Here’s a way to use standard functions in SAP NetWeaver to initiate and track Express Planning using a collaboration room.

The easiest way to think of the budgeting process is as a kind of survey in which managers are invited to take part. The process of gathering the budget data involves sending out the survey to each manager, together with his own Express Planning instance (or data entry sheet). The entry sheet contains the steps you want him to plan and the reference data you are able to provide to prepare that plan. As each manager submits his response, the analyst is notified that planning data is available for checking and approval. The survey also tells the analyst which managers have yet to submit and allows him to send out reminders to tardy managers. Figure 1 shows a simplified version of the process, with Mike de Wolf sending a survey out to two managers, Gary Dahl and Lucy Jones.

Figure 1
Overview of planning process

In SAP terms, the survey is a Planning Round that users who are assigned to the role Business Unit Analyst can create from the work center planning. The Planning Round is modeled as a collaboration room in SAP NetWeaver with a one-to-one relationship between the Planning Round in the ECC and the collaboration room for planning in SAP NetWeaver Portal.

Depending on the planning services selected, Express Planning can work with Cost Center Accounting (CO-OM-CCA) and Personal Management (PA) in ERP Central Component (ECC) and planning applications in SAP NetWeaver Business Intelligence (BI) and Strategic Enterprise Management (SEM). For more information on Express Planning, see part 1 of this series, “Express Planning Gives Managers Access to Plan Data in Multiple Systems, in the January 2006 issue of SAP Financials Expert.

Janet Salmon

Janet Salmon joined SAP in 1992. After six months of training on R/2, she began work as a translator, becoming a technical writer for the Product Costing area in 1993. As English speakers with a grasp of German costing methodologies were rare in the early 1990s, she began to hold classes and became a product manager for the Product Costing area in 1996, helping numerous international organizations set up Product Costing. More recently, she has worked on CO content for SAP NetWeaver Business Warehouse, Financial Analytics, and role-based portals. She is currently chief product owner for management accounting. She lives in Speyer, Germany, with her husband and two children.

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