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Product Portfolio Planning in SAP Analytics Cloud

Discover with us the possibilities of Visual Planning with SAP Analytics Cloud.

Tsvetomir · Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Since before the dawn of the digital age, planning activities have been mostly associated with typing numbers in spreadsheets. The rise of modern web front-end technologies for business applications has influenced the great progress in data visualisations, UX and collaboration tools. However, it has done little so far to change the essence of planning. Data is still being entered in tables – a convention that has been around for many years but is becoming less and less desirable as businesses modernize their planning approaches and applications.


That is the exact reason, why we at DahlBeer, have decided to build an innovative application which relies solely on visual components to perform planning activities in an unconventional, yet effective way. As a platform, we chose SAP Analytics Cloud due to its great versatility and visualization potential. The application we present today is our pioneering step in the avant-garde domain of visual planning.

This application is centred around a sports goods manufacturing and retail company that needs to plan its product portfolio for different markets and regions for next season. The tool aims to help planners select which products to manufacture and assign quantities to them in order to meet the company goals. 


We’ll select Europe as our market in today’s case together with its three regions – Western, Central and Eastern Europe. The first step in the process would be to select products from four available categories: Footwear, Clothing, Sports Equipment and Accessories.


The left-hand side of the screen hosts a graphical product pool consisting of thumbnails for all articles available for a selected category. The new designs for the seasons are marked with a tag in the top-right corner.  When a thumbnail is selected, the article details panel on the right side of the pool is filled with relevant information. It displays the article’s id, description, product type, retail price and the colours it is sold in.  Older products on the market, have a rating as an additional stat signifying how well the article has been received by the public.



The panel also contains a chart showing the number of articles planned for the respective category in the previous years and a KPI tile showing the average sales price for the category. Those metrics could be used in order to decide how much products from each category should go in our portfolio. The chart can also act as year selector to the KPI tile. Clicking on the bar for 2018, for example, would result in the visualization of ASP for the respective year.

The Info button in the top bar opens a panel with information on important sports event in the current and past few years.

To add products to the portfolio simply click on their pictures to select them, then click on the “Add Selected” button next to our chosen region. 



Once a set of articles is selected, the planner can proceed with quantitative planning. The goal of the second step is to allocate quantities to the selected articles, so that the total gross sales target for the region & market is met. The projected Gross Sales for the portfolio is calculated using the price and quantity of an article and is used for the comparison versus the target Gross Sales.


On the left-hand side of the screen, one can find the the quantitative planning menu. As a starting point, the articles selected in the previous step are automatically filled in. The planner has the option to type exact values for each article or use the modifier field to add or subtract quantities or make percentage changes to the existing value . In case a mistake is made, the plan can be reverted to its initial state.

In this step, the product details panel is again available to help up with our decision making process accompanied by a small cluster of charts we call the insigts panel.  

The KPI tiles in top left corner show us the total projected gross sales together with the absolute and percentage delta to the company’s target gross sales. The KPI tiles have colour thresholds enabled in order to guide the planner towards acceptable values. Right next to them we find a donut chart showing the category split for the total market.

Finally, at the bottom, there is a pre-configured Search of Insights Chart. Search of Insights is an SAP Analytics Cloud build-in feature that allows us to ask questions about the data and let the system find the answers and visualize them. To accomplish this, the platform uses natural language processing machine learning algorithms. For Example, the planner could ask: “What are the Top/Bottom 3 Products for Europe” and then further specify the category “In footwear” and the KPI, “per Gross Sales”.


Once all regional plans are complete, the management can utilise a global portfolio dashboard. The goal of this step is to recognize inefficiencies and enable synergies between the products. The dashboard provides an overview on all portfolio plans and makes it easy to identify the most and least desirable articles for the markets. This greatly simplifies the decision-making and refinement process surrounding the product strategy.