Business Intelligence Questions

What is the Business Warehouse?

Answer: Business Warehouse is the long-term solution for IRIS reporting. With a data warehouse as its core, Business Warehouse offers tools for data extraction from SAP R/3, reporting, and analysis; delivered Business Content reports; and a web-based user interface called Business Explorer (BEx). As with other IRIS modules, the Business Warehouse implementation will occur in phases.

The SAP Business Warehouse (BW) will use DB2 (database software) and the existing Informatica ETL servers to migrate (over the next three to five years) historical data currently in the Oracle Data Warehouse Environment, as well as any other external (non-SAP) data into BW. BW includes its own reporting tools which will be evaluated during the first six months of the BW implementation to determine if they meet the needs currently filled by SAS, WebFOCUS and desktop reporting tools such as Brio and Crystal.

How is data structured in the Business Warehouse for queries, reporting and analysis?

Answer: The data in the Business Information Warehouse is structured into self-contained business data areas (InfoProviders). Some InfoProviders included are InfoCubes (a quantity of relational tables), Operational Data Stores (ODS) which store consolidated and cleansed transaction data on a document level, or combinations of these called MultiProviders. Queries will be defined so users can analyze the data. By selecting and combining InfoObjects (characteristics and key figures) or reusable structures in a query, users determine the way in which they navigate through and evaluate the data in the selected InfoProvider.

What is Business Explorer (BEx) Analyzer?

Answer: The Business Explorer Analyzer (BEx Analyzer) is the analysis and reporting tool that is embedded in Microsoft Excel and will be used by Power Users to write reports. It provides flexible reporting and analysis for strategic analyses and decision-making support. An employee with authorization can evaluate data to varying degrees of detail and from different perspectives on the Web and in MS Excel.

What is BEx Web Reporting?

Answer: BEx Web Reporting gives users a spectrum of access to the information in Business Warehouse. Users can customize and run reports (views) written by others. The data, displayed in the form of a pivot table, is the starting point for detailed analysis. Navigation functions allow users to change the query and generate further views of the data. There are more functions in the context menus of the InfoObjects. BW users can change the display of characteristics and key figures; adjust settings that affect the display of the entire query, the characteristics, the key figures, or the data; define sort orders (for example, ascending or descending) and filters; swap characteristics or recalculate values; and configure the presentation of the data in accordance with their requirements. Using exception reporting, users can readily identify objects that deviate from the norm or are critical. In addition, once they export the query to Excel, users can use the editing functions in Microsoft Excel in order to set up individual format templates, print results areas, or create graphics such as bar charts or pie charts. They can export the report view to MS Excel or a CSV (Comma Separated Value) file.

What are the basic navigation functions in BEx?

Answer: Navigation allows BW users to view and evaluate the query data from different points of view. When users navigate, they change the initial query view and create new views of the query data.

The basic navigation functions are:

  • Displaying a hierarchy
  • Filtering a characteristic by a characteristic value
  • Drilling down according to a characteristic and changing the drilldown status
  • Filtering a characteristic and drilling down by another characteristic
  • Distributing the characteristics and key figures along the row axes and the column axes of the query
  • Putting the characteristics and key figures in order
  • Hiding and showing key figures
  • Activating and deactivating conditions
  • Activating and deactivating exceptions


What kind of reports should be written in BW? Which ones should be written in R/3?

Answer: To determine specific reporting needs and ensure use of the right reporting tools, it is helpful to classify information requests into two basic types — (1) tactical and (2) strategic. Tactical reports typically contain real-time, dynamic transactional-level information. Tactical reporting is also referred to as operational reporting (R/3). Strategic reports gather detailed data into an aggregated format for strategic analysis. Strategic reporting is also known as analytical reporting (BW).

BW provides much better performance and stronger data analysis capabilities than R/3. With BW the user can analyze data from SAP applications, as well as from any external (non-SAP) data sources that have been migrated to BW. These external data sources will eventually include the existing historical data in the Oracle Data Warehouse Environment, and may include data from some of the “peripheral” administrative applications created by departments.

Why are most BW reports written against an InfoCube, rather than an ODS?

Answer: Because the data is summarized, reports written against an InfoCube return data quickly. When a report is written against an ODS, the data is generally more detailed and more voluminous, thus taking longer to be returned.

Detail reports against an ODS will be provided. The preferred method of accessing these reports is to first access a summarized report and then drill down to the applicable detail by linking to the detail report.

What is required to report against the Business Warehouse?

Answer: To report against BW, users must complete training on the Business Warehouse Business Explorer (BEx) Web reporting tool anddemonstrate competency to gain access to BW Production. The BEx tool will allow them to report on data entered into IRIS and extracted nightly for the Business Warehouse.

A BEX_300 Web Simulation class is available. Employees should contact to request access to the simulation.

BEX_300 classroom training will also be available, based on demand. Employees who prefer classroom training should send their requests to:

A web simulation [Simulation – BW Introduction to Ledgers – Java Version (preferred)] and handout are also available for Ledger reporting in the Business Warehouse portion of myHelp.

Users must have an Active Directory account to sign on to Business Warehouse.

Can one user see or overwrite another’s report views?

Answer: Users who have the same security role will be able to see all the report views in that role. This is advantageous for sharing report views.

No one will be able to overwrite a report view. To change a report view and save the changes, the user must save the report view with a new technical name.

How can a report view be deleted?

Answer: BW users can ask a Power User to delete report views or send a request for deletion (with Technical Name of the report view) to

Who are Power Users?

Answer: Power Users are employees with knowledge of the data available in R/3 and BW, advanced skills in writing reports, and the need to create custom reports on an ad hoc basis. Due to the advanced functionality of BEx Web Reporting, a limited number of Power Users will need to be trained to write queries. Power Users will only be able to share reports with other Power Users.

Who are Report Developers?

Answer: Report Developers are familiar with the data available in R/3 and BW. Equipped with advanced skills in writing reports, they can create reports for others and make reports accessible for BEx Web Users.

Can other tools (such as Crystal, Brio, WebFOCUS) be used to get to IRIS data?

Answer: At this time, there are no other tools connected to the data. Users can export the data from IRIS to Excel or CSV (Comma Separated Values file), however, and then use another tool (e.g., Crystal) against the file. When there is more data than will fit into an Excel spreadsheet, users can create a CSV file and import the data into MS Access. They can then use Access, Brio or Crystal to report against the MS Access database. This allows users to take advantage of special functionality in the desktop tools which may not be currently available in BEx.

Updated: 5/31/2012

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