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SAP BW Time-Dependent Hierarchies

June 4, 2020

Pyramid is an official member of the SAP® PartnerEdge® open ecosystem. Pyramid 2020 is certified by SAP to interoperate with SAP BW/4HANA. Pyramid 2020 is pending certification by SAP to interoperate with SAP HANA.

In previous SAP-focused blogs, I discussed Pyramid’s capability for supporting SAP parameters and variables. Pyramid supports multiple parameter settings for BW and Hana with a user-friendly point and click interface—and will keep this functionality intact because it can offer deep analytical functionality without extracting the data out of BW or HANA.

An extension of this capability is support for time-dependent hierarchies.

The challenge

One of the primary functions of a data warehouse is the creation and maintenance of slowly changing data. A classic example of this is how a customer, over time, may belong to different addresses as time goes on. If a user would like to review the data by customer region at a specific date, time-dependent hierarchies lets him or her recreate snapshots of the regional data according to the status of the customer information stored at that date and time.

SAP BW offers powerful capabilities to handle slowly changing data through time-dependent hierarchies. The catch, however, is to find an analytics tool that exposes this functionality and allows the user to change the date as needed.

The problem

Most third-party tools have light support for time-dependent hierarchies, and many don’t have any support at all. And even if they do support the mechanism, their weak analytic functionality working directly on SAP BW often encourages users to extract SAP data and ingest it to external engines, losing the live connection to SAP BW and the ability to use the time-dependency mechanism.

The Pyramid approach

As explained in previous blogs, Pyramid enables the direct querying of the SAP data with tremendous functional and analytic depth—bringing back results directly from either BW or HANA without requiring the extraction of the raw data and reloading it into a proprietary database. In effect, Pyramid allows end-users to get real self-service analytics with parameters and time-dependent hierarchies working directly on live SAP BW.

Business case

Sharon, Sales Manager for ABC International Bank, would like to view gross profit per annum by customer region. The report is run on April 15th, 2020 but must correctly reflect the customer region as of December 31, 2019. Several large customers have moved from New Jersey to California after December 31, 2019. The report must include all transactions for customers who belonged to each state that time, even if they have changed address since then.

The SAP BW system deployed at ABC International Bank correctly stores the historical snapshot of the customer segment status. Pyramid, using SAP BW’s time-dependent hierarchies, can display the data Sharon requires according to any snapshot in time by performing a direct query on the SAP BW data warehouse.

Gross profit by customer region as of April 15, 2020

This report displays the gross profit per customer region. The report was run on April 15, 2020, so the data is displayed according to the customer regions as per their status on that date.

Note the amount for California is $13,761,788 and New Jersey is $12,0001,560.

Gross profit by customer region as of December 31, 2019

Sharon reruns the report, and by selecting the predefined parameters she can change the date to December 31, 2019.

Note that the accurate data as per the snapshot on December 31 is now reflected in the report. The amount for California has changed from $13,761,788 to $16,402,132, and New Jersey has changed from $12,0001,560 to $9,441,227.


SAP BW offers powerful capabilities to handle slowly changing data through time-dependent hierarchies. Many systems lose the ability to use this function because they inevitably extract the data out of SAP BW to deliver self-service functionality. Pyramid, on the other hand, capitalizes on the SAP BW’s powerful time-dependent capabilities by using it directly (as intended) while still offering self-service, full-function analytics—delivering the best of both worlds.

In my next blog, I will discuss additional features unique to SAP BW that are supported by Pyramid. This includes support for ragged hierarchies, numerical formats, multiple currencies, and captions.

SAP and Pyramid Analytics

Pyramid solves this entire problem with a complete solution that offers real self-service working directly on SAP BW and HANA. How? By delivering best-in-class functionality and performance on SAP BW without extracting or duplicating data, Pyramid preserves the full analytic power of the SAP engines, as well as the inherent security and governance.

Please explore our Pyramid + SAP Blog Series to learn how Pyramid supports our customers on SAP. Each post contains specific examples to illustrate key functionality:

  1. Real self-service BI for SAP
  2. Self-service BI directly on SAP BW
  3. Collaborative analytics for SAP BW and HANA
  4. Time intelligence for SAP BW and HANA
  5. Running Totals Made Easy for SAP HANA and BW
  6. Dashboards and report bursting directly off SAP BW and HANA
  7. Realizing the power of parameters in SAP BW and HANA
  8. SAP BW Time-Dependent Hierarchies
  9. Ragged Hierarchies and Data Formats in SAP BW
  10. Building Calculations directly on SAP BW and HANA
  11. Building data models into SAP HANA

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