How to Approach Time-Dependent Relationships in SAP NetWeaver BI

  • by Jens Koerner, Product Manager, Mobile Platform, SAP Labs
  • May 1, 2008
Modeling time-dependent objects in SAP NetWeaver BI can be challenging. Find out about alternate solutions, depending on the source data format.
Key Concept

Modeling time-dependent relationships is one of the most sophisticated but central topics in data modeling in SAP NetWeaver BI. The scenarios are complex (examples include sales reorganization or financial restatements) and difficult to implement because very few tools are available in standard SAP NetWeaver BI. A prominent scenario is the join of time-dependent InfoObjects when modeling transitive attributes. The concepts also apply for modeling time-dependent HR data (infotypes) for SAP NetWeaver BI reporting.

Today’s business is changing fast and organizations need different versions of time-based truth in business intelligence. This makes almost any data element, such as customer, product, or organizational unit, subject to time-based dependencies. The relationships of these entities are difficult enough to model without having to consider time dependencies. This is a hard fact of life. Data models need to be dynamic and able to change with time.

Some real-life business trends are reorganizations (such as mergers and acquisitions), introduction of new products and line extensions that drive complex changes in product hierarchies, along with constant re-segmentation of the market to identify new and more lucrative customer groupings. These business-driven demands translate into a need for more complex modeling techniques in SAP NetWeaver BI.

You can address time-dependent requirements in different ways in SAP NetWeaver BI. Common mechanisms include time-dependent hierarchies and time-dependent attributes of InfoObjects. However, the issue of time dependency becomes much more complex when you must link time-dependent data together. In these situations you need to merge the different time intervals and validity periods of relationships. This is not a trivial exercise.

Jens Koerner

Jens Koerner is product manager, Mobile Platform, at SAP Labs. Previously, he was senior director, leading the SAP Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) and Business Intelligence (BI) Customer Solution Adoption team. He also was a senior director-level SAP enterprise architect and project manager focused on the development of SAP solutions such as SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) or SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC). He has led global implementations with various customers in the US, the UK, and Germany and was a member of the Inforte BI leadership team.

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