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 APO PP/DS

MUFI: Maintainability, Usability, Functionality, Implement ability

Vendor: SAP (Select For Vendor Profile)


SAP Production Planning and Detailed Scheduling (PP/DS) is the production planning and scheduling application within the SAP APO or SAP SCM (SAP’s new nomenclature for the suite is SCM, but most people still refer to it as APO) suite.

SAP APO is a broad advanced planning suite that includes, depending on how you count, around ten modules (although the bulk of its implementations are in just four modules. PP/DS is often implemented along with SNP (profiled in our Software Selection Package for Supply Planning). While there is some overlap (which will be explained), these are traditional sequential and supply planning first applications. Both of their designs go back to the mid-1990s, and both products are patterned off of products made by i2 Technologies, which SAP had a partnership within the mid-1990’s.

Application Detail

PP/DS is sold as a heavy duty and sophisticated production planning and scheduling system that can be used in almost any production environment. In truth, due to design flaws, most of PP/DS’s more sophisticated functionality goes unused on projects. Something, which goes virtually unmentioned by the major and even minor consulting companies that recommend PP/DS, is that the application has a narrow scope of practical usage. For this reason, PP/DS is one of the most over recommended applications that we cover. It is repeatedly selected for manufacturing environments that it has zero chance of ever being successfully implemented. One reason for this is PP/DS is chosen for buyers that have no idea how much maintenance is involved with PP/DS. Secondly, PP/DS can only manage discrete and repetitive manufacturing environments and is entirely inappropriate for process-batch and process continuously. Furthermore, even among discrete and repetitive manufacturing, PP/DS can only handle the simplest of manufacturing requirements. Because of PP/DS’s heavy maintenance overhead, it has the highest TCO of any application in its software category. Lesser known applications can produce superior planning output at less than half of PP/DS’s total cost.

Another area of confusion is how PP/DS is implemented. SAP markets PP/DS’s cost optimizer very slowly during the sales process, however, the optimizer is an old design which is extremely difficult to configure correctly, and which can only minimize costs. This is a first generation optimizer based upon when all optimization was cost driven, which has been demonstrated to be a poor approach to optimizing a production facility. Duration optimizers are more relevant for the problem and have proven to be much easier to implement in practice. However, only two software vendors that we cover – PlanetTogether and Delfoi have them. In fact, in the vast majority of PP/DS implementation, while they begin with the optimizer, they eventually move to heuristics. Therefore a significant reason for choosing PP/DS – its optimizer – is almost always nullified during implementation. This is extremely well known by large PP/DS implementers like IBM and Accenture, but they do not share this information with their clients as they want their clients to implement PP/DS. We do not rate applications based on their hypothetical functionality. That is why, even though PP/DS has a dated cost optimizer, as it is not usable, we consider PP/DS to be a heuristic based system. This is why we rate its functionality score as lower than average.

To purchase the most expensive application in the category, and then to accept all of its implementation and maintenance costs merely to run heuristics is a very poor expenditure of a company’s budget.

PP/DS has a difficult to use user interface. This, along with its overall difficulty level makes PP/DS have fixed user uptake issues to clients. This is exacerbated by the fact that PP/DS is also complicated to maintain – meaning PP/DS implementations that we analyze are often in a state of disrepair.

As with all of the APO products, while the ability to simulate is touted in the sales process, in reality, it is so onerous to set up, and on most APO projects simulation is only rarely performed. Therefore companies that use PP/DS

PP/DS has had ample opportunity to be successful, but it has not proven to be so. PP/DS has been negative for production planning and scheduling software in general. It is the best-known high-end production planning and scheduling application, and its failures have given a black eye to the overall software category.

For years consultants have been telling companies to buy a “real” production planning and scheduling application rather than relying upon MRP and Excel. However, when they do – they find that this solution also does not work and does not improve their production and scheduling plans. Many companies think that as SAP is such a large and distinguished company if they can’t get it to work who can? Most do not understand that PP/DS is merely a weak application. If there were a functioning market of information on enterprise software, PP/DS would no longer be recommended, but PP/DS implementations are lengthy and expensive endeavors, two things, which are highly desirable to the major consulting companies.

Finite or Bottleneck Resource

The PP/DS optimizer has the option of paying no attention to the bottleneck setting on the resource or of constraining all bottleneck resources. 

Plant Interactions

In environments where there are dependencies between production activities. One example of this is when a finished good in one factory is fed by semi-finished goods or components (or the components are in a third plant supplying the semi-finished goods plant, which I have in fact seen at several companies) — then the production across the various plants ends up being poorly integrated. For example, the widely used SAP PP/DS application has no way to resolve conflicts between factories that feed each other.  Like almost all production planning and scheduling applications, the application cannot even “see” this relationship because its design is such that each plant is seen as independent during the planning run. While the supply planning system can see the overall supply network, the vast majority of supply planning software can do nothing concerning multi-plant planning because it cannot create routings that span multiple factories.

PP/DS is an application buyer should steer clear of. It does not do what it promises there are far better alternatives in the market.

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 PLM10101010PLM
AspenTech AspenOne48107Production Planning
Birst88.5108BI 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 along with the major consulting companies have done a very effective job of convincing clients that SAP PP/DS is one of the best production planning and scheduling applications in the market. The fact that it is not only not even technologically impressive, but is extremely difficult to implement – and must be implemented only with its heuristics means that buyers are in for a rough ride with any PP/DS implementation. The trick with PP/DS is only to implement it in elementary environments. PP/DS will fail in complex environments like process industry manufacturing, and there is no advice that we can offer that will change that. We have been kept up to date on a process industry buyer that has been trying to get PP/DS to work for ten years. We told them about the limitations of PP/DS before their implementation, but they decided to put their trust in SAP, and now their operations are seriously compromised because of this application (as well as SAP SNP and DP). Because a PP/DS implementation will have problems in every possible dimension (functionality, user adoption, troubleshooting, output, etc..) PP/DS implementations must be kept simple to avoid a complete disaster.

Likelihood of Implementation Success

This accounts for both the application and 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

PP/DS should not be implemented with its optimizer – it will not work but will burn a tremendous amount of time during the implementation. Instead, PP/DS should be implemented with heuristics right from the beginning. Because the user interface is so weak, the users will require prodigious amounts of training. There are only two possible outcomes to a PP/DS project, very moderate success in the most uncomplicated environments, or failure, which requires successive, visits by high priced “SAP Platinum Consultants,” which don’t end up solving the problem. Following the advice in this section can put a buyer on the pathway to the former. All buyers should be prepared for an extremely challenging implementation.

*We often recommend independent consultants on projects to gain an objective opinion, but this advice will not work for PP/DS. PP/DS consultants that are independent hold the SAP line and distribute information that is as bad as that which is provided by consultants that work for SAP.

Finished With Your Analysis?

To go back to the Software Selection Package page for the Production Planning software category. Or go to this link to see other analytical products for SAP PP/DS.