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Distributing Reports With SAP Information Broadcaster: Do’s, Don’ts, and Real-world Lessons. Dr. Bjarne Berg Comerit Inc. What We’ll Cover. Overview The Broadcast Wizard Scheduling by PowerUsers via BEx Broadcaster Broadcasting to the Portal Broadcaster Advanced Options

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Distributing Reports With SAP Information Broadcaster: Do’s, Don’ts, and Real-world Lessons


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    1. Distributing Reports With SAP Information Broadcaster: Do’s, Don’ts, and Real-world Lessons Dr. Bjarne Berg Comerit Inc.

    2. What We’ll Cover • Overview • The Broadcast Wizard • Scheduling by PowerUsers via BEx Broadcaster • Broadcasting to the Portal • Broadcaster Advanced Options • How to make it work in practice • Wrap up

    3. What Is BEx Information Broadcasting? • It’s a standard part of SAP BW 3.5 and higher • It lets you send “reports”, i.e., • Bex Queries • Workbooks • Web Applications • To... • Email addresses, BW users, BW roles • SAP Enterprise Portal Knowledge Management folders • SAP Enterprise Portal Collaboration Rooms • You can define and deploy iViews based on the resulting KM / Collaboration documents, if you wish!

    4. What Is BEx Information Broadcasting? (cont.) • Broadcasts can be configured to run: • Once only • On a schedule basis (every day, week, month) • During specific timeslots defined by the administrator • Or any time (if you allow) • When an event occurs i.e. when an “exception” occurs, • As part of a process chain • You tell the system whether to send: • A link to regenerate the query, etc. based on live data, or • A standalone (pre-calculated) version of the item • There are several format and compression options • Key concept: Push Vs. Pull. • Broadcasting is a Push tool

    5. Why Is Broadcasting So Valuable? • It... • Reduces the time users spend looking for information • Improves the like likelihood that users will use your BI data • Expands the reach of BI data to non-BW users as well! • Particularly, non-BW users • Makes BW data available for users on the go • Lets you link your BW and Portal systems together! • Users can collaborate, integrate BW content with other enterprise and Web content, etc.! • “Casual” users, non-BW users, travelling users, • and executives are all prime candidates for • broadcasted reports!

    6. KPI & Scorecard Formatted • Simple • Easy to view • Limited nav • Aggregates • Flat Reporting • Formatted • Print • Form based • Static • Predictable access • OLAP Reporting • Drill Down • Slice and Dice • Analyse • Data Mining • Search and discover Different Needs and Tools • The information needs of the user communities are different

    7. What We’ll Cover • Overview • The Broadcast Wizard • Scheduling by PowerUsers via BEx Broadcaster • Broadcasting to the Portal • Broadcaster Advanced Options • How to make it work in practice • Wrap up

    8. The Broadcast Wizard - ad hoc scheduling You can access the Broadcast Wizard from the context menu in a query • The Broadcast wizard is a tool for end users to distribute queries, and workbooks to single individuals or larger audiences through email or the enterprise portal

    9. Step 1 – Choose an Output Format Independent HTML file We can use this option to send a single HTML file (standard static web page). This is an easy way to send webpages that can be used by handheld devices (i.e. Blackberry or PocketPCs), and also by custom web applications. The report is a snapshot vs. "live" data

    10. Step 1 – Choose an Output Format (cont.) HTML as Separate MIME Files This option results in a set of individual files for each web item in your report. The benefit of this standard web format option is that it optimizes reuse of objects, as images are cached in the browser after being accessed for the first time.

    11. Step 1 – Choose an Output Format (cont.) Online links back to current Data The link back to the on-line source (requires recipients to log on with a username and a password to see the content, but can see the latest data). This is the most secure method for protecting the access to your date. However, the recipient must have on-line access back to your system, have a username and password. • The recipient may not see the same as what you believe you sent him, since the data may have been refreshed since you sent the broadcast.

    12. Step 1 – Choose an Output Format (cont.) Depending on how your mail system is setup, this is what a recipient of an on-line web link might see. Text can also be added by the sender

    13. Step 1 – Choose an Output Format (cont.) Zipping the files reduces size of the distribution files and help network traffic: It is very good for MIME files, which tends to be many and relative large. Not a good option for handhelds (requires unzipping, and several read steps) Normally not needed for single HTML files unless the report is very long Reduces network traffic and the size of the mail in the mailboxes.

    14. Step 2 – Identify Recipients and Enter a Message Enter one or more email addresses, a subject, and body. The 'importance' level will flag the email for delivery to your recipient. Click Continue to save and schedule the broadcast to execute later… OR Click Schedule to execute the broadcast once only, during the next available processing window and exit... • Adding comments in the 'contents' area will make the query much more understandable to your recipient…

    15. Step 3 – Define A Name For the “Broadcast Setting” • This is the name under which your settings are stored • Save this If you want to execute this broadcast more than once, enter save your settings • You can retrieve these settings later. Define groups of settings for reports you send repeatedly (e.g., weekly status reports, month-end financial reports, etc.)

    16. Step 4 – Tell the System When to Schedule the Broadcast We can schedule the job to run every time the infocube is changed (the process chain has run) We can limit the users to when they can schedule jobs to avoid stress on the system. We can provide multiple pre-defined times when they can schedule the reports. We can also allow the users to create their own scheduling times (Only authorized users see this) Setting up pre-defined 'windows' of time is a developer's job.

    17. Broadcast Wizard Demo

    18. What We’ll Cover • Overview • The Broadcast Wizard • Scheduling by PowerUsers via BEx Broadcaster • Broadcasting to the Portal • Broadcaster Advanced Options • How to make it work in practice • Wrap up

    19. The BEx Broadcaster BEx Broadcaster is another way you can access tools to broadcast queries, workbooks and web apps. It is typically given to the powerusers or developers, since it have more options and requires slightly more skills. You can get to the BEx Broadcaster through: The Query Designer The Web Application Designer

    20. Regular Scheduling by PowerUsers using BEx Broadcaster Through the regular BEx Broadcaster more advanced users or developers can broadcast content to specific BW users, roles, email addresses or email groups and set language. You can also make the broadcast user specific. Another feature is that you can authorize access through another user (if permitted). The output formats are the same as in the broadcast wizard.

    21. BEx Broadcaster - Exception Reporting If a certain exception has occurred, or if a certain level has been reached, you can make the broadcaster send you an exception report. First you have to define the exceptions for the query and make the exception 'active'.

    22. BEx Broadcaster - Exception Reporting In BEx Broadcaster we can select the pre-calculation tab and ask to be alerted only when we reach a certain minimum level of the exception. • Key concepts: Don't spend time monitoring 'business as usual' activities, only get alerted when exceptions occur And don't search for exceptions, send them automatically to you.

    23. BEx Broadcaster - Filters If you pre-calculate the queries, you can allow the recipient to navigate the reports by the characteristics you select. When doing so, you have to include a navigation block in the web template so that user can actually use the navigation features you have enabled • The more items you include, the larger the size of the broadcast items. This is not a 'big-deal' if you are mailing to a few of users, but for thousands of users daily, you should select these items carefully.

    24. BEx Broadcaster - Filters If you pre-calculating a web template, you have the ability to specify a control query to be used in the pre-calculation of the navigation filters. This is a great feature, when you have specific queries that contains the navigation filers that you want to broadcast. • The benefit of the Filter Navigation tab is that you can select which items you want to enable, without having to create new queries.

    25. BEx Broadcaster - Web Application Designer and Portal You can also use the web application designer to pick up queries and publish the applications to the portal or the BEx Broadcaster

    26. What We’ll Cover • Overview • The Broadcast Wizard • Scheduling by PowerUsers via BEx Broadcaster • Broadcasting to the Portal • Broadcaster Advanced Options • How to make it work in practice • Wrap up

    27. Why Broadcast to the Portal vs. Email? • More powerful • Users can comment, rate, and discuss the broadcasted assets • You can place the assets in iViews on cockpits/dashboards • You can integrate the assets with other Portal content! • Portal users without a BW user id can now access BW content • Broadcasted assets are included in TREX searches • More user friendly • Users can subscribe/unsubscribe themselves! • Easier, more flexible administration • You can leverage the Portal’s access control lists/capabilities • No email address lists to maintain - users sub/unsubscribe • Avoids the email glut, and the BW/network performance hit!

    28. Broadcasting to the Portal • The Broadcast options are similar to the email distribution. You have several choices: 1 - Deploy via KM “Favorites” 4 - Deploy via the “BW Showcase” role 2 - Deploy via a KM Folder 5 - Deploy via a custom iViews that you define 3 - Deploy Via Collaboration

    29. Using BEx Broadcaster to send items to the Portal You can broadcast the content to the portal at fixed intervals and have the content instantly available through independent web pages. You can also broadcast to the portal through links back to your system • There is a demo role available in SAP Enterprise Portal version 6.0. You can use this role for your publishing to the portal or enhance it anyway you like. • The role is available undercom.sap.ip.bi.business_explorer_showcase

    30. Sending items to a KM folder, Content directory or iView in the Portal KM Folders and Portal roles appears as targets within the Broadcast Wizard and Bex Broadcaster... You broadcast the content to a personal portfolio of a user, or a portfolio shared by a set of users i.e. knowledge management folders. You can see all KM folders and broadcast directly to any of them. Users can subscribe to the broadcasts and be notified when the content is updated:

    31. Deploy Via the “BW Showcase” Role • You don’t have to go through KM or Collaboration... • Use the special “SAP BW Showcase Role” • com.sap.ip.bi.business_explorer_showcase • You can use this role for your publishing to the portal or enhance it anyway you like.

    32. What We’ll Cover • Overview • The Broadcast Wizard • Scheduling by PowerUsers via BEx Broadcaster • Broadcasting to the Portal • Broadcaster Advanced Options • How to make it work in practice • Wrap up

    33. Why is Broadcasting so all encompassing? BW is an integrated decision support system with a high degree of flexibility. Therefore the broadcaster has to function for a variety of purposes and for a diverse audience. Today, broadcaster supports everything for portals, PDAs, alerts and email to caching and Knowledge Management.

    34. Broadcast Process Flow – Three Key Avenues Broadcast tools Bex Broadcast Wizard Bex Broadcaster One-time, immediate broadcasts Scheduled Broadcasts Event triggers for broadcasts 1 2 3 Broadcast “engine” Broadcast registered with BW Alerting Broadcast sent immediately to the Portal or Email Job added to SAP BW Job Scheduling Broadcast targets Portal Collaboration Room Portal KM Folder Email Recipients

    35. Security and Encryption Controlling who can schedule ad-hoc, or through the BEx Broadcaster is a critical maintenance issue. You can control the user's ability to schedule the reports, through the new authorization object S_RS_BCS (the administrator still uses the standard S_RS_ADMWB object). You also have new broadcast settings for the RSADMWBOBJ field. These settings include: Maintain/Delete (23), Display (03) and Execute/Schedule (16). • Activate Secured Socket Layer (SSL) 2.0 or higher in your browser and use HTTPS as a protocol for you browsers to encrypt and secure your web content. This is not an SAP function, but standard Microsoft browser web options.

    36. Process chains and Timepoints You can also assign broadcast event to process chains. First you create a variant with and assign it to the infocube. The event in the process chain will trigger the broadcast event. Creating timepoints Background jobs can be created (transaction SM36) to schedule any jobs starting with the text "TP_BROADCASTING_". This is to allow users to broadcast at certain time points. Under SM36 start the condition, select the date and time when the job starts, select the periodic flag and define it as hourly, daily, weekly, monthly or other. • Timepoints controls when end users can schedule broadcasts. This is used to avoid heavy scheduling during data loads or times when many users are accessing the systems.

    37. Creating Timepoints Creating timepoints Background jobs can be created (transaction SM36) to schedule any jobs starting with the text "TP_BROADCASTING_".

    38. Creating Timepoints

    39. Broadcasting using the Reporting Agent to external applications You can also use the traditional reporting agent to mail pre-calculated reports to a variety of targets including 3rd party portals such as Plumtree.

    40. Workbook pre-calculation - what do you need? Use transaction RSPRECADMIN in the BW administrator workbench to get to the pre-calculation settings. You also need one server with: MS-Office XP (or .net framework version 1.1 or higher) MS-Excel-2000 (or higher) SAP BW workbook pre-calculation services (on standard BW install CDs). Note: servers with this installed will be visible under the transaction 'RSPRECADMIN' and you can also perform server load balancing. GUI v. 6.20 with BEx (or higher) • This is not needed for standard broadcasting of web queries or web applications, only for workbooks.

    41. Cool programs for Managing Broadcaster There are some programs that can help you manage the SAP BEx Broadcaster : RSRD_BOOKMARK_REORGANISATION is a program which can be used for reorganizing and deleting bookmark IDs and view IDs that were created for Information Broadcasting by the system and are no longer needed. RSBCSRE03 - Deleting email logs created by broadcaster. • In large BW systems with many users and frequent broadcasts, the logs can be really big and should be deleted periodically

    42. Transaction codes for Managing Broadcaster You also have transaction codes for helping you debug and monitor the logs in SAP BEx Broadcaster: Transaction Codes RSRD_LOG - This displays all logs for BEx Broadcaster settings. Logs are only written for scheduled settings and not for settings executed directly. RSRD_START - Using transaction RSRD_START, you can execute (and therefore debug for test purposes) any settings. Make sure that the indicator for executing settings online is activated.

    43. Portal Integration - Issues If you broadcast to your own web "report center" that users can acess form the portal, the portal takes “control” of the pages hosted by BW. This prohibits interaction between pages contained within the frameset by changing the document.domain property of the launched page The Solution Must be addressed on the frameset page Place this function in the frameset ONLOAD event Soultion by David Cole Understanding Try/Catch : http://www.devguru.com/Technologies/ecmascript/quickref/try...catch.html More on Cross Frame Scripting With IE : http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/author/om/xframe_scripting_security.asp

    44. What We’ll Cover • Overview • The Broadcast Wizard • Scheduling by PowerUsers via BEx Broadcaster • Broadcasting to the Portal • Broadcaster Advanced Options • How to make it work in practice • Wrap up

    45. Regular users Power users Authors Developers BW Admins Email      Target - - /    Portal Bex Wizard      Tools - - / Bex Broadcaster    - - - Process Chains   One-time      Schedule using pre-set timepoints Scheduling      Free schedule - - /    Deciding Who Should Be Allowed to Do What - Governing Council • There are many options and decisions to be made on who should be able to access all the Broadcast features. A good approach to decide how gets access and also when to create any timepoints is to create a Governing Council of a few managers and developers

    46. Spam filters and server blockers Users that create a high volume of emails may be automatically blocked by spam filters in the browsers and mail servers. You will have to make sure that the internal email system have flagged you as a valid email broadcaster. • Review regularly that mail systems such as Yahoo, Google, AOL, Microsoft and others have not flagged all your emails as spam.

    47. Management of Timepoints Be careful to not add all your broadcasts to the end of process chains. Large systems with hundreds of infocubes may be 'bogged down' with lengthy process chains that slows down the whole load processing. Good timepoints may be 6-8 am when the load jobs are finished and before a large numbers of users accesses the system. Another good time may be at the end of weekly, or monthly loads on the weekend (i.e. Saturday or Sunday mornings). • The key is to balance the times when jobs can be executed. If this is not carefully, all users tends to schedule their broadcast between 7 and 9 am each morning.

    48. Avoiding Volumes of Junk Users have a tendency to schedule queries for distribution and never disable the schedule after it has started to run. This creates mountains of junk that few actually use. Users who don't want a broadcast tends to simply delete it, or create a program/agent that automatically removes the email. So, how do you know if anyone reads the broadcasts? A process to review and control internal "spam-kings' have to be established. Hint: use the transaction codes 'SCOT' and 'SOST' to monitored SMTP mails. • A periodic review of scheduled broadcasts should be performed by the developers to see if there are any candidates for deletion.

    49. Push Vs. Pull - Change in Mentality Users have a to change their mentality to stop reviewing everything that is 'business as usual'. The Push mentality requires that users plan for what is important to them and set up fixed sets of reports that are used to manage the business. In general the push approach reduces the time users spend looking for information and provides them with more time to examine data that really matter to them. You should carefully consider using the BEx Broadcaster for the core reporting that is done through any handheld computer devise. This will simplify the security setup and also increase the speed of any report (will be viewed on the device instead of accessing back to the source system through limited bandwidth). • Casual users and executives are prime candidates for broadcasted reports

    50. KPI and exception reporting A major challenge in setting up the BEx Broadcaster for exception reporting is the definition of what an exception is. This is setup in the query and used by the broadcaster. If the query does not define the exception the way that a user wants it, it is not available to broadcast as an exception. • Exception reporting require that a query is executed and 'evaluated' to see if it should be broadcasted. This overhead can be substantial if you have a high number of users 'monitoring' different queries