Executive Summary

  • This is the Brightwork Research & Analysis software rating series.
  • We rate both the software and estimate the risk of implementing each application.

MUFI Rating & Risk for SAP BI/BW

MUFI: Maintainability, Usability, Functionality, Implement ability

Vendor: SAP (Select For Vendor Profile)


SAP BI/BW is the only BI solution that SAP owns that was developed by SAP, and it is easily the worst BI solution that SAP has in its stable. The problems with BI were a significant motivator for the purchase of Business Objects, which was beating BI in too many head to head proposals. The idea was that Business Objects – particular, its data modeling functionality would be ported to BI, but this never occurred.

Application Detail

The term “best in class” is often thrown around, however what about the term worst in class? We ask because SAP BI/BW meets the definition of a “worst in class” application. Among the areas that we measure, SAP BI/BW is last in all of them, and we question BI/BW’s ability to exist as a product independent. In BI/BW, there is no bright light to be found. The user interface is inferior; the engineering of the data cubes and overall backend is the worst that we have ever seen (unfortunately, this same solution is replicated in the SAP APO DP product). At every customer that we evaluate, SAP BI/BW, as well as SAP APO DP, can do the least of any of the applications in its category. Both have the highest TCO in their respective software categories. Companies that use BI have bad reports and companies that use DP have high forecast error. However, because the significant consulting companies can bill for their SAP DP and SAP BI/BW resources, and do not have resources trained on more efficient applications, they continue to be recommended to clients.

If you are a buyer that had a major consulting company recommend SAP BI/BW or DP to you, and you have observed the lack of productivity in these applications, you now know why these products were recommended to you. It had absolutely nothing to do with the quality of these applications. BI/BW has atrocious report development productivity. This means that BI/BW reports are universally late; companies that purchase BI/BW are not able to meet their reporting needs. We have occasionally heard BI/BW referee to as a Roach Motel for reporting requirements. That is “requirements go in, but reports don’t come out.”

The entire slow motion and problematic BI and DP product is what happens when a company like SAP, that had no previous experience in advanced data structures creates products in a software category and uses its marketing muscle and partnerships with influencers like consulting companies and IT analysts to present the notion that SAP has competitive applications in these categories.

The Poor Product Productivity of SAP BI/BW (and the related product SAP DP)

Buyer after buyer complains to us about reports that are late or never appear, and this should not be surprising to anyone when we use SAP DP (which uses the same data backend as SAP BI), things that take us days to do, take hours in other applications. The application Demand Works Smoothie has a very efficient approach to building relationships versus SAP DP (Demand Works is profiled in our section in our Software Selection Package for Demand Planning). When we were testing the application, we at first thought Demand Works had developed some new database technology. However, it uses a star schema the same as SAP DP (and the same as BI/BW), yet how Demand Works configured the star schema made the application almost maintenance-free. At the same time, SAP BI/BW makes setting up data structures too similar to a root canal. SAP BI/BW is the prototypical application that comes with a lot of bells and whistles (and is now being promoted to run on “HANA” – an in-memory database technology).

However, HANA will still not address the productivity problems with the application. Other vendors such as Teradata have been using solid-state drives (SSDs) combined with hard drives to improve performance for some time; they don’t make a big marketing push related to offering upgraded hardware to their clients. (SAP proponents would argue that HANA is much more than SSDs, and it is, but because SAP is so grandiose regarding HANA and so much of their statements regarding what HANA includes – it’s a lengthy conversation as to what HANA is, and many of SAP’s comments relating to HANA are also not reliable.) In fact, SAP’s constant harping on HANA is a distraction, as it is intended to be by SAP sales. The sap is attempting to distract customers from looking at the reality of SAP’s dated, expensive and inefficient applications by adding the marketing zest of a further technology promise in the embodied in HANA so that buyers will not notice that its’ previous technology predictions and guarantees have not worked out.

Naturally, buyers can choose any other BI application other than SAP BI/BW and be sure of making a better decision than selecting SAP BI/BW. SAP BI/BW does not even make sense for companies that already own a large number of other SAP applications. Getting a few limited adapters will not make up for purchasing the worst BI/BW application currently sold.

MUFI Scores

All scores out of a possible 10.

MUFI Scores

Search for the vendor in this table using the search bar in the upper right of the table. Shortening Key: 
  • Ma. = Maintainability
  • Us. = Usability
  • Fu. = Functionality
  • Im. = Implementability
Average Score for Big ERP5. ERP
Average Score for CRM6.
Average Score for Small and Medium ERP8.386.78.5Small and Medium ERP
Average Score for Finance8.88.888.8Finance
Average Score for Demand Planning7.67.277.1Demand Planning
Average Score for Supply Planning6.76.976.8Supply Planning
Average Score for Production Planning6.86.976.9Production Planning
Average Score for BI Heavy5. Heavy
Average Score for PLM77.26.87.3PLM
Average Score for BI Light7.78.798.3BI Light
Arena Solutions Arena PLM 10101010PLM
AspenTech AspenOne48107Production Planning
Birst 88.5108BI Light
ERPNext10107.510Small and Medium ERP
Delfoi Planner866.57Production Planning
Demand Works Smoothie SP910710Supply Planning
Hamilton Grant RM1098.59PLM
IBM Cognos2.731.53BI Heavy
Infor Epiphany7865CRM
Infor Lawson8767Big ERP
Intuit QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions9959Finance
JDA DM97.588Demand Planning
Microsoft Dynamics CRM2322CRM
NetSuite CRM6433CRM
Netsuite OneWorld7788Big ERP
Oracle BI4436BI Heavy
Oracle CRM On Demand4535CRM
Oracle Demantra533.54.5Demand Planning
Oracle JD Edwards World4136Big ERP
Oracle RightNow6745CRM
PlanetTogether Galaxy APS10101010Production Planning
Preactor8737Production Planning
QlikTech QlikView99109BI Light
Rootstock9899Small and Medium ERP
Sage X38878Big ERP
Salesforce Enterprise88.597.5CRM
SAP APO DP3432Demand Planning
SAP APO PP/DS2243Production Planning
SAP APO SNP3484Supply Planning
SAP BI/BW1.5242BI Heavy
SAP Business Objects32.573BI Heavy
SAP ECC336.53Big ERP
SAP SmartOps4475.5Supply Planning
SAS BI6.5796BI Heavy
SAS Demand Driven Forecasting7897Demand Planning
Tableau (BI)9101010BI Light
Tableau (Forecasting)10859Demand Planning
Teradata86.39.76BI Heavy
ToolsGroup SO99 (Forecasting)7897Demand Planning
ToolsGroup SO99 (Supply)56107Supply Planning

Vendor and Application Risk

SAP BI/BW implementations are some of the toughest in IT. The building of data structures is so antiquated and difficult that it will require gobs of time from some of the most expensive resources that work in business intelligence. Users will complain mightily regarding the reporting interface, and the project will have major user adoption issues. When report changes are requested, they will take a very long period. The project team will have to constantly fight the business users to migrate them away from whatever personal or parochial data tools/reports that they rely upon to redirect them back to SAP BI/BW so that the buyer can get some financial payback on SAP BI/BW.

Likelihood of Implementation Success

This accounts for both the application and the vendor-specific risk. In our formula, the total implementation risk is application + vendor + buyer risk. The buyer specific risk could increase or decrease this overall likelihood and adjust the values that you see below.

Likelihood of Application Implementation Success and Failure

Estimates are for a typical project. A specific implementation requires details from the project to make a project-specific estimate.

Search for the application in this table using the search bar in the upper right of the table.
ApplicationProb of Implementation SuccessProb of Implementation Failure
SAP Smartops0.390.61
NetSuite CRM0.460.54
Sugar CRM0.620.48
Base CRM0.910.09
SAP CRM0.350.65
Salesforce Enterprise0.720.28
QlikTech QlikView0.820.18
Tableau (BI)0.980.02
SAP Crystal Reports0.460.54
SAS BI0.760.24
Oracle BI0.350.65
IBM Cognos0.230.77
Infor Epiphany0.580.42
Microsoft Dynamics CRM0.260.74
Oracle RightNow CRM0.410.59
Oracle CRM On Demand0.360.64
SAP Business Objects0.320.68
SAP BI/BW0.250.75
SAP PLM0.290.71
Hamilton Grant RM0.890.11
Arena Solutions0.960.04
Delfoi Planner0.70.3
PlanetTogether Galaxy APS0.960.04
AspenTech AspenOne0.550.45
SAP APO PP/DS0.270.73
Demand Works Smoothie SP0.930.07
ToolsGroup SO99 (Supply)0.820.18
Demand Works Smoothie0.960.04
Tableau (Forecasting)0.90.1
SAS Demand Driven Forecasting0.820.18
ToolsGroup SO99 (Forecasting)0.860.14
JDA DM0.570.43
Oracle Demantra0.330.67
SAP APO DP0.280.72
Intuit QB Enterprise0.80.2
Microsoft Dynamics AX0.40.6
SAP Business One0.490.51
Sage X30.620.38
Infor Lawson0.580.42
Epicor ERP0.40.6
Oracle JD Edwards World0.310.69
Oracle JD Edwards EnterpriseOne0.360.64
SAP ERP ECC/R/30.320.68
NetSuite OneWorld0.650.35

Risk Definition

See this link for more on our categorizations of risk. We also offer a Buyer Specific Risk Estimation as a service for those that want a comprehensive analysis.

Risk Management Approach

SAP BI/BW has extraordinarily low productivity, and so reports should be kept to an absolute minimum. It is better to let the business users know how few reports they will get upfront rather than stringing them out, only to disappoint them. Unfortunately, none of this will be communicated by SAP or by their partners, the major consulting companies. BI/BW is known only to be able to deliver a minimum number of the promised reports at the company after company. We typically recommend hiring an independent consultant – and they can be found readily for SAP BI/BW. However, don’t expect objectivity from this consultant and they will tow the line proposed by SAP and the major consulting company, and a buyer will have a difficult time finding one that will tell them the truth.

Finished With Your Analysis?

Once complete, go to this link to see other analytical products for SAP BI/BW.