In part one of this series (see related SCN article, The Fate of the Universe Depends on You, Part 1 of 2), I made the case for wholehearted adoption of the Information Design Tool to build universes. In part two, I'd like to provide some best practices for successful adoption of the Information Design Tool (IDT).
The first best practice is simple. Just stop using the Universe Design Tool for new universe projects. Because using the IDT may be a new experience for your team, I recommend putting a little "fudge" in the project plan. And also training, which leads to the next best practice.
Sign Up for Information Design Tool training
The next step is critically important. Sign up your organization's universe designers for Information Design Tool training. While creating a universe is an old task, the Information Design Tool is a new tool that differs in many ways from its predecessor (see related article, Getting Started with the Information Design Tool). The BOID10 universe design curriculum from SAP is detailed, thorough and beneficial to even the most seasoned universe designers. Many experienced designers have never received formal training on the old Universe Design Tool. Both newbie and experienced universe designers benefit because most of the accidents and shortcomings that I've seen in production universes are specifically dealt with in SAP's curriculum- learning what not to do is sometimes more valuable than learning what to do. Plan on budgeting both time and money for this valuable education during your first UNX project.
Profile BI platform for obsolete reports
Although the conversion process for universes is relatively straight-forward, all existing content has to be updated to use the new UNX universe instead of the old one. Regardless of whether these documents are updated manually or with an automated utility, having a smaller set of documents to update is still a good idea. Identifying and removing obsolete content will make your BI system more easy to maintain in general, but will definitely make a noticeable difference for adopting the UNX universe format. Check out the SAP Analytics Extensions Directory for a complete list of partner add-ons that can help profile content.
Profile BI platform for obsolete or poorly designed universes
After reducing the number of Web Intelligence and other reports that require maintenance to convert from UNV to UNX, turn your attention to obsolete or poorly designed universes. Obsolete universes are those that are no longer used and can be safely archived from the repository. Poorly designed universes require additional analysis to determine a solution. Some should be redesigned as brand new UNX universes. Some smaller, single-purpose universes should be combined into larger ones. However, in most cases, these universes should be last on the list for potential conversion.
During this phase, you'll also want to remove non-production universes from your production BI landscape. Instead, universes in development or testing should be relocated to a BI landscape specifically designed for that stage in the universe lifecycle, then promoted to the production landscape using SAP's built in Promotion Management tool.
Lastly, look at the source system roadmap with your key business users. If the current CRM is set to be replaced over the next two years, it's not money well-spent to convert existing universes. Instead, it makes sense to simply build new UNX universes as part of implementing a new CRM.
When profiling is completed, you should have a complete list of active universes in your system tagged as "convert immediately", "convert later", or "never convert". Review this list with your key business users and set a date to be UNV-free even if it's far into the future.
Address UNV to UNX conversion during routine maintenance and enhancement
The most popular or useful universes typically receive routine maintenance and enhancement. Consider adding conversion and remediation time as part of a maintenance project plan, particularly if you intend to access those data sources with newer tools like SAP Lumira and SAP Design Studio that are biased toward UNX universes. Remember, nobody is retiring the old Universe Design Tool (yet). However, while there isn't a deadline as there was with Desktop Intelligence, the writing is on the wall and organizations should have a plan to gradually migrate their existing universes to UNX format over the next two to three years.
Have a short cut-over period - then pull the plug
After serious side-by-side comparisons of a new UNX versus its old UNV predecessor, it's time to pull the plug on the old UNV universe. Take special precautions to prevent new reports from using the old UNV universe and make sure via content profiling that all existing reports have been converted to use the new UNX universe in the smallest time frame possible.
Automate the adoption process
The Information Design Tool makes converting a classic UNV universe into a UNX universe simple. However, there remains the task of updating existing reports to use the new UNX universe. And of course, reports should be thoroughly tested to make sure they generate identical results when compared to the UNV version. For some SAP BI organizations, the sheer volume of conversion work may turn a nice-to-have utility into a must-have. Check out the SAP Analytics Extensions Directory for a complete list of partner add-ons that can help automate and accelerate the adoption of UNX universes.
In conclusion, if you haven't given the Information Design Tool a glance since the 2011 4.0 release, it's time to take a fresh look in 2016 at the 4.2 release. I hope these two articles will help your organization on its journey with the SAP BI platform. The fate of the SAP BusinessObjects universe depends on you!