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SAP University Alliances Version 3.0 Authors Klaus Freyburger Tobias Hagen. SAP BW Data Modeling. Abstract: This chapter covers the basic aspects and concepts of data modeling with SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW). Product SAP Netweaver 7.3 BI Level Undergraduate Beginner.

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sap bw data modeling

SAP University Alliances

Version 3.0

Authors Klaus Freyburger

Tobias Hagen

SAP BW Data Modeling


This chapter covers the basic aspects and concepts of data modeling with SAP Business Information Warehouse (SAP BW).


SAP Netweaver7.3 BI






Key Figures



DataStore Objects


sap business intelligence platform
SAP Business IntelligencePlatform

Information Access

SAP NetWeaver Portal

Any Portal, Any Destination




Crystal Reports

Web Intelligence




SAP Business Intelligence - BI 4.0

SAP Integration

Data Federator

Data Quality Mgmt

Data Quality Mgmt

Master Data Management

SAP NetWeaver BW on HANA




Human Resources

Corporate Services

Metadata Management

Data Foundation

SAP NetWeaver BW / BW-IP



Data Services

Data Integrator

Data Quality Management


SAP Business Suite



3rd-Party Databases and Applications

what is an infoobject
What is an InfoObject?
  • InfoObjects are used to focus on business requirements.
    • Note:
      • The original product name was “SAP Business Information Warehouse.”
      • The abbrevation “BIW” conflicted with another product name, so “BW” was chosen.
  • InfoObjects are the “bricks”to build data structures inside SAP BW.
    • InfoObjects represent business objects from an end user’s view.
    • The most important InfoObject types used for business analysis are Characteristics and Key Figures.
infoobject characteristics
InfoObject: Characteristics
  • A Characteristic represents a business object (or concept, business term, business entity).
    • A Characteristic may have attributes which describes the business object in more detail.
    • Example: InfoObject “Customer” is a characteristic with attributes such as “Customer Number”, “ZIP Code”, “Region”, etc.
    • The attributes “Customer Number”, “ZIP Code”, “Region”, etc. are also managed as Characteristics and may have their own attributes.

Note: What SAP calls a Characteristic is often referred to in the data warehouse community as a Dimension.

infoobject key figures
InfoObject: Key Figures
  • A Key Figure (or variable, measure) is oftenly used to document the performance of a business process over time.
    • It can be found in document records such as invoice, delivery note, purchase order, or goods receipt.
    • Example: InfoObject “Revenue” or “Sales Amount”, etc.
  • Note: InfoObjects are unique inside SAP BW, and they are used to build the data structures for analysis requirements.
    • Conceptually unique: the semantics (meaning) of an InfoObject is uniquely defined system-wide inside SAP BW.
    • Logically unique: the data type, value range or field length is uniquely defined system-wide inside SAP BW.
    • From the technical point of view, an InfoObject can viewed as a database field.
evolution from a sap erp database object to an sap bw infoobject


Evolution from a SAP ERP Database Object to an SAP BW InfoObject

SAP BW InfoObjects


BW Extraktor

SAP BW DataSource

Table Costcenter








Table Employee




SAP Business Information Warehouse!!

infoproviders provide access to data records
InfoProviders “Provide” Access to Data Records


  • Are data storage inside SAP BW
  • May store data records physically (persistent)
  • May also be used to access data stored outside SAP BW virtually (transparent views)
  • May be accessed with front end tools such as SAP BusinessExplorer
  • Note: A query is a “view” to data within an InfoProvider and does not contain physical data.
  • InfoProviders with physical data:
    • InfoCubes
      • Contain data optimized for fast multi-dimensional analysis.
    • DataStore Objects
      • Contain detailed data.
      • Used for high data volumes stored in normal database tables.
      • Often used as “data source” for InfoCubes.
  • InfoProviders with virtual data:
    • MultiProviders
      • Often used to create “views” above two or more InfoCubes with the same Characteristics but different Key Figures.
      • Data resides in the InfoCubes involved and data redundancy is avoided.
    • VirtualProviders
      • Data stored somewhere outside SAP BW.
      • Some ERP systems provide data storage which may be accessed directly by SAP BW without changing the end user ‘s view to the data.
  • Provide data storage used for reporting and online analysis.
  • Consist of Key Figures and Characteristics.
  • Contain data stored multi-dimensionally and often aggregated (week, month).
  • Use star database schema, consisting of a fact table surrounded by dimension tables.
  • Use a maximum of 3 + 13 dimension tables.
    • 3 dimension tables are pre-defined by SAP.
      • Time, Unit and DataPackage (for technical information)
    • 13 dimensions may be used by InfoCube developers.
  • Note: In practice, good InfoCube design should not exceed 6-8 dimensions (+ the 3 above) so 13 dimensions are plenty.
datastore objects
DataStore Objects
  • Contain single data records such as invoices, purchase orders or customer order items.
  • Consist of key fields(such as “order number”, “order position number”) and data fields (Key Figures and Characteristics such as “sales amount”, “ net value”, “customer id”, “material number”).
  • Store data records in relational database tables.
  • Often contain massive volumes of data.
infocube versus datastore object
InfoCube versus DataStore Object
  • Data Warehouse, Operational Data Store and Data Marts are general layers in a Data Warehouse Architecture.

 BI1-M2-01-Data Warehouse

  • Data Warehouse and Operational Data Store may be implemented with DataStoreObjects.
  • Data Marts will be implemented with InfoCubes.


Key Figures



DataStore Objects


  • InfoObjects
    • Key Figures
      • Revenue, Sales Amount, Net Value, ….
    • Characteristics
      • Customer, Region, Zip Code, …
    • Units
      • Unit of Measurement, Currency, …
    • Time
      • Calender Year, Fiscal Year, Month, Day, Quarter, ….
    • Some Technical Stuff
      • DataPackageID, RequestID, …
key figure definition revenue
Key Figure Definition: Revenue

Amount, Quantity, .. …

Data Type: integer, float, char(10), …

EUR, USD, … (fix)

Pieces, inch, %, … (fix)

Unit / Currency (fix) / Currency reference

key figure definition revenue cont

No Employee per Month

Last value

Last value







Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun

Key Figure Definition: Revenue (cont.)

Aggregation: Last Value, Maximum, Average…

Reference Characteristic, e.g. Quarter

The reference characteristic allows the use of a function to aggregate data instead of summation.

Example: Number of Employees at the end of the quarter. Sum does not make sense!

Aggregation: Summation, Minimum, Maximum

key figure definition revenue cont1
Key Figure Definition: Revenue (cont.)

If the Key Figure is non-cumulative (e.g., warehouse stock), this field defines an InfoObject representing non-cumulative change. This InfoObject is either positive or negative. So, the stock amount can be calculated from it.

Two fields are used to calculate the non-cumulative amounts. Inflow is the InfoObject which represents the stock inflow amount. Outflow is vice versa.

characteristic definition customer
Characteristic Definition: Customer

Data Types: Num, Char, Date, …

conversion routine
Conversion Routine

Database values

  • Are stored in internalformat appropriate to the database
    • Date as YYYYMMDD
  • Are presented to a user in external format according to his local settings, e.g., in
    • Europe
      • Date: DD.MM.YYYY
      • Numbers: 1.234,56
    • US
      • Date: MM/DD/YYYY
      • Numbers: 1,234.56

Transformation external  internal format is performed by a conversion routine

alpha conversion routine
ALPHA Conversion Routine


  • DatatypeCHAR in SAP
  • Can storecharacterandnumbervalues
  • Haveconversionexit ALPHA asdefault
    • Eliminatesleadingblanks after userinput
      • User inputof‚1000‘ and ‚ 1000‘ refersto same object
    • Stores numberswithleading 0s in database
      • Numericvaluesarestored in naturalorder in database, e.g. 9000 first, then10000
characteristic definition customer cont
Characteristic Definition: Customer (cont.)

An InfoObject may have attributes!




Time dependenttexts

characteristic definition customer cont1
Characteristic Definition: Customer (cont.)



Usablefor OLAP operationsordisplayonly

time characteristics
Time Characteristics
  • Time characteristics are always necessary and define the time-related reference point for data analysis purposes.
  • Time characteristics are predefined by SAP and cannot be changed.
units currencies
  • Units and Currencies are used to define Key Figures in more detail.
  • A Unit may be an InfoObject which defines the Unit of a Key Figure.
  • A Currency may be an InfoObject which defines the Currency of a Key Figure
  • Examples:
    • 0BASE_UOM


Key Figures



DataStore Objects


5 steps to define a datastore object
5 Steps to Define a DataStore Object

5 steps to Define an DataStore Object

  • Define a name for a DataStoreObject
  • Choose the key fields
  • Choose the data fields
  • Define attributes used for data analysis
  • Activate the DataStoreObject
choosing infoobjects to build a datastore object
Choosing InfoObjects to Build a DataStore Object
  • Select the relevant InfoObjects
    • Direct InfoObject name input (1) or
    • Choose InfoObjects by InfoObjectCatalog and drag & drop the InfoObjects (2)
7 steps to define an infocube
7 Steps to Define an InfoCube

7 Steps to Define an InfoCube

  • Choose a name for an InfoCube
  • Create Dimensions as needed
  • Assign Characteristics to Dimensions
  • Choose Time Characteristics
  • Choose Key Figures
  • Define Navigational Attributes
  • Activate InfoCube
what is a dimension inside sap bw
What is a Dimension Inside SAP BW?
  • A dimension is a group of characteristics which belong to the same business object (semantically).
  • Each characteristic may contain additional attributes which are relevant for data analysis – or not!!!

 Navigational attributes are InfoObjects which are used to perform data analysis.

 Display attributes are InfoObjects for which data analysis does not make sense (e.g. a house number or a family name)

 This has an impact to cube design!

Note: In data warehouse community, the term Dimension is used for what SAP calls Characteristic .

excursion sap bw enhanced star schema
Excursion: SAP BW - Enhanced Star Schema
  • Attributes are not partof a dimension!


Characteristicaspartof a dimension


basic characteristic and its navigation attributes
Basic Characteristic and Its Navigation Attributes

1. Dimension

3. Navigation Attributes arereadytobeused in analysis.

2. Characteristic

steps to create an infocube
Steps to Create an InfoCube
  • Define the InfoObjects needed.
    • Key Figures
    • Characteristices
  • Define which Characteristics may be chosen to create a semantic cluster for semantic dimensions.
    • Examples are: Sales, Production, Material Management, Finance, etc.
  • Define which attributes are appropriate to perform data analysis
    • OLAP attributes  define them as “navigational”attributes
    • Non-OLAP attributes  define them as “display”attributes
  • Done! Deploy the InfoCube inside SAP BW!
  • Key Figures and Characteristics are defined as InfoObjects.
  • InfoObjects are the smallest “bricks” to define InfoProviders within SAP BW.
  • InfoProviders are used to store data within SAP BW or allow SAP BW to access data stored somewhere else.
  • The most important InfoProviders are InfoCubesand DataStore Objects.
  • The definition of an SAP BW InfoCube is no Witchery!