How to Utilize W(R)ICEF- Reports Development in SAP S4HANA

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Have you heard of SAP S4HANA WRICEF objects of REPORTS?

If you haven’t, here’s a little backstory and why you should if you’re looking to transform your business’s reporting development processes.

In February 2017, SAP introduced S4HANA Cloud, a SaaS (software as a service) version of their S4HANA ERP. Billed as a “next-generation intelligent ERP,” the goal of SAP S4HANA Cloud is to help companies use HANA’s in-memory processing and real-time data accessibility in a SaaS model to achieve digital transformation. The SaaS model allows users to access all S4HANA’s functionality without committing resources to hardware, databases or IT staff, while the cloud aspect brings technologies that introduce “intelligence” into ERP applications, including machine learning, virtual and augmented reality, blockchain and voice-enabled technology.

The three main technologies that comprise S4HANA On-Prem / Cloud’s intelligent ERP are a digital assistant (SAP CoPilot), machine learning and predictive analytics. Each of these technologies contribute to S4HANA On-Prem / Cloud’s ability to integrate business processes and turn real-time data into actions that can increase employee productivity.

So, how can you use S4HANA On-Prem /Cloud to develop smarter reports with increased visualization?

In this article, we’ll explore the ways you can develop reports using in-app extensibility within SAP S4HANA. The main applications we’ll focus on are the Custom CDS Views app, the Custom Analytical Queries app and the SAP Fiori analytical apps.

Custom CDS Views App

Since core data services (CDS) are the primary data modeling options for the entire SAP S4HANA ERP, it makes sense that reporting development would start with the Custom CDS Views app. SAP-provided Virtual Data Models (VDMs) are the main structural representations of CDS views in SAP S4HANA Cloud. A VDM establishes the basis of the data access required to display business functionalities as APIs (application programming interfaces) or to utilize APIs within SAP Fiori apps.

There are three options for VDM views: basic interface views, composite interface views and consumption views. SAP also provides many standard whitelisted CDS VDM views within the View Browser app or the Custom CDS Views app. In the Custom CDS Views app, you can build your own custom views on top of these standard views or on top of custom business objects to meet data requirements for your reports.

Some of the other features of the Custom CDS Views app that help with creating your report are:

  • Data sources can be other custom CDS views, SAP-provided published/whitelisted CDS views, custom business objects, etc.
  • Any existing data sources can be accessed through display/search/filter
  • You can create your own CDS using the data sources mentioned above
  • You can define one or more associations to other data sources
  • You can apply parameters to existing data sources
  • Newly created CDS views can be revealed as OData using association
  • CDS views can be defined with an analytical query so data can be analyzed/visualized through embedded analytics
  • Custom data filters can be set to limit the data based on conditions you identify

Now that you have a basic understanding of what you can do in the Custom CDS Views app, let’s look at the Custom Analytical Queries app to start building upon the data gathered through your CDS views.

Custom Analytical Queries App

As a developer, you more than likely have a strong understanding of the two primary aspects of development: data selection and data visualization. We’ve already covered data selection within the Custom CDS Views app, so let’s look at how S4HANA presents data visualization.

The Custom Analytical Queries app is an excellent tool for creating meaningful reporting based on raw business data. Within this app you can add required fields, set filters, add restricted and calculated measures, and preview the data in SAP Fiori-based multidimensional reporting style. You can create custom analytical queries using the following key items:

  • Data sources: any existing standard or custom CDS views that have been marked as an analytical query can be used as a data source
  • General data: this includes basic information about the query, such as its label
  • Field selection: you can select the list of fields for your analytical query
  • Display: you can set a variety of properties for your query, such as the dimension format to a key or some text or a combination of elements; set sorting properties; define the axis and specify whether a field displays as a row or in column; move fields up and down as required; add calculated, restrictive and converted measures; and add counters to display the count of a particular dimension
  • Filters: you can choose from many types of filters, such as single value, multiple value, fixed values, etc.

Finally, we’ll explore how you can display the data generated through the Custom Analytical Queries app using the various in-app reporting tools provided by SAP Fiori.

SAP Fiori Analytical Apps

S4HANA Cloud offers a variety of SAP Fiori apps that you can use to visualize your data to maximum effect. Two of the main SAP data visualization tools are the KPI (key performance indicator) modeler and the report designer modeler. The KPI modeler is a set of apps for designing and developing KPI-driven smart business applications, while the report designer modeler is a set of apps for defining tabular or analytical reports.

Since SAP S4HANA Cloud 1902, both modelers have been combined into a single app: The Manage KPIs and Reports app. This app manages the following entities:

  • Groups: used to manage similar KPIs
  • KPIs: defined as certain measures that are evaluated with respect to a target goal
  • Reports: creates generic reports and analytical list pages (ALPs)
  • Applications: with tiles to be displayed in the Launchpad

You can define two different types of reports using the Manage KPIs and Reports app: generic drilldown reports and analytical list pages (ALPs). ALPs are a compact way to analyze data on a single page.

Another useful app for dynamic data visualization is the Analysis Path Framework (APF) Configuration Modeler app. This app helps you visualize your data in a chart-oriented, storyboard style display. Additionally, you can access the SAP Predictive Analytics integrator, which is a combination of two apps – the Predictive Model app and the Predictive Scenario app – to build predictive use cases for business applications. The combination of these two apps within the Predictive Analytics integrator allows you to explore existing business scenarios provided by SAP, and develop your own predictive and machine learning business scenarios to train existing models with new training data.

As you can see, the in-app extensibility provided by SAP S4HANA Cloud contains a wealth of possibilities for digitally transformative reporting development. Each application within the S4HANA ERP can be utilized to allow for development of more intelligent, dynamic reporting, and thereby encourage greater productivity for your business.

About the Author:

Adbul Afzal Mohammed is a SAP BW4HANA / S4HANA Cloud Solution Consultant with 16+ years of creative, design and innovation experience in all areas of SAP Business Intelligence with a mixed skillset of Quantitative & Qualitative reporting analysis. He’s filled with industry-driven Certifications and packed his bag with a wealth of experience working with companies around the globe.

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