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In 2011 the Business Process Operations dashboards were introduced. Those dashboards are especially used to track progress during business process improvement activities. As those dashboards also used by senior management in order to understand where progress is achieved and where it is not it is always a challenge to provide the right level of granularity. Many large companies who are operating all around the globe and where the organization is split into different markets, regions or business units asked how this can be reflected in our dashboards?! The special challenge is typically the fact that the markets or regions are not directly reflected as such in the respective SAP system, i.e. no company code, sales organization or plant represents a specific market or region. Instead a market comprises several different company codes, sales organizations or plants.

Since SAP Solution Manager support package 12, this challenge is solved by so called virtual characteristics. With the help of of those virtual characteristics you are now able to build dashboards that provide a global overview about all your markets, e.g. as shown in the dashboard below the data is split between the 4 markets America, Asia, Europe & Japan. Additionally you see one column comprising possible company codes that are not (yet) assigned to any market.

If you configured some additional parent child relationships between your panels, then a forward navigation is possible. So if you click on the cell for "Open and overdue FI-AR items" in America, then you get to see which company codes are part of the market.

So how can you get your markets, regions shown in your dashboards?

Getting virtual characteristics into a dashboard

If you access your setup environment for Business Process Operations dashboards, then you have to assign the respective virtual characteristic on Analytical Key Figure Instance (AKFI) level to a Category or Drilldown dimension.

Now if you look into your SAP Solution Manager you will not see any such virtual characteristic immediately. You have to create those first, before they can be used.

Defining new virtual characteristics

If you want to create and define virtual characteristics according to your needs, then please access the BPO reporting infrastructure from within the Business Process Operations work center. As of support package 13 you should find there one tab strip Virtual Characteristics which will help you with some kind guided procedure.

Note: In support package 12 the application was already shipped but not yet linked to the BPO reporting infrastructure UI. Please call https://<server>:<port>/sap/bc/webdynpro/sap/ags_ri_vcharstics?sap-language=EN&sap-wd-configId=AGS_R... to access the application.

As the data access to the generic Infocube/Twincubes in Business Process Analytics and BPO dashboards happens technically via so called Semantic IDs, you have to create such new Semantic IDs first with the pre-fix ZVIRT. The semantic ID defines as an example whether the value '0001' in parameter 1 is representing plant '0001' or company code '0001' or sales organization '0001'. For our dashboard shown above we defined some new semantic ID 'ZVIRT_MARKET'.

In a 2nd step we defined a new virtual characteristic ZVIRT_CHARSTIC_MARKET (the one that we assigned to an AKFI as seen above) and assigned to it the newly created semantic ID. Every virtual characteristic that you want to create, has to start with the pre-fix ZVIRT_CHARSTIC.

In the 3rd step we defined for our new virtual characteristic that the 'concrete values' for our markets are America, Asia, Europe & Japan. Those are the 4 markets displayed on the dashboard at the beginning of this blog.

In the 4th and final step we defined for every possible virtual characteristic value which "real values" from the SAP system are comprised, e.g. our market Europe consists of the company codes 3001 to 9999, DK01, FR01 and IT01. In case of sales key figures you would need to define another mapping for Europe which uses semantic ID ERP_VKORG in order to also map which sales organizations belong to market Europe.

In the last step of the guided procedure you have to assign the virtual characteristic to the respective key figure instance where you want to use it. You also have to declare which semantic ID shall be used for the determination of the right virtual characteristic value (e.g. in a sales order item key figure you might have company code, sales org as well as plant information. In the market definition you might have done the assignment for all three semantic IDs ERP_BUKRS, ERP_VKORG, ERP_WERKS. Now in this last assignment step you tell the system which of the three semantic IDs should be taken into account for the exact market determination (in the worst case a plant that is assigned to Japan is pointing to a sales org that is assigned to Europe).

Note: If the filtering via virtual characteristics in Business Process Analytics shall also be taken over when jumping into the detail list, then you have to create a corresponding entry in the 5th step of the guided procedure, i.e. create an entry BPM_Detail_List.<key figure>. This double maintenance is supposedly eliminated with support package 15.

After this mapping definition and assignment of new virtual characteristics to your respective AKFIs used in the dashboard, you can lean back and enjoy your new dashboards which automatically split your data according to the newly defined markets, regions, business units etc.

Further reading

You can find all necessary information about Business Process Analytics in this document. More information on Business Process Improvement for SAP solutions can be found here.

Frequently Asked Questions about Business Process Monitoring and Business Process Analytics are answered under and respectively.

The following blogs (in chronological order) provide further details about Business Process Analytics and Business Process Monitoring functionalities within the SAP Solution Manager.