One major risk of using SAP data in 3rd party tools is that it is difficult and costly to modify extracts if it turned out that we miss important pieces of information.
A couple of examples:
- you have an extract on material data per material type and storage. But storage-s (locations) are only represented as technical codes, without city names or such, which makes the geospatial analysis difficult.
- you have an extract on orders, but it comes with order date only, while you need the planned delivery date as well.
- you have a data set from SAP with all your past payments, but it is in multiple currencies, you have to take care of exchange calculations (maybe even calculated for multiple dates / rates)
And there are plenty more cases where you need just one or two additional pieces of information from SAP, but either you try to solve it out of SAP (with lookups, transformations, etc) or you have to go for one more costly iteration of SAP ABAP job specification-development-test-golive cycle. Anyhow, it costs you unplanned time and money.
Since VirtDB Data Unfolder runs on the SAP application server, when specifying the extracts you will have access to all SAP resources (according to your privileges of course). This makes it possible to add whatever information you need to an existing data set: add descriptions to the codes, add location info to sites, use currency exchange functions, etc. still in SAP. Let’s see how it works in life, we will extend our beloved MM60 material report with material type descriptions – by default it only contains the material type codes. And nobody wants to show a dashboard to C-level containing “ZHTI” and “FERT” like codes, right?
After VirtDB Data Unfolder services were enabled for a data source and we are authorized to use it – you will see the new VirtDB menu button showing up in SAP client above the data grid. Select the Field catalog extension option.
It will bring up a new window with a list of the fields in your data grid. You have many options to tweak and extend your data, but now we will only go for the Material Type description. We can locate the Material Type code in the list easily.
To add the description to a code field, you just have to check the “Read text” box in the same row and voila: a new field is added to your list. It will add the concerning description text field, selected by VirtDB based on the SAP metadata references.
You just hit the OK button and the new field appears in the data grid as a new column, right next to the related code.
From this point you are good to use all the VirtDB functions on the extended data set already, like opening up the data in a Tableau Desktop or publish it to a Tableau Server. And of course, any time if there were new requirements coming up related to this data set, you just come back to VirtDB and change the data export accordingly. We love to be agile 🙂
In the upcoming posts we will show additional VirtDB features about extending, enriching SAP data sets still on the SAP side, without ABAP coding.