A leading energy transportation and midstream service provider that’s served North America’s energy industry for more than 65 years, Pembina Pipeline Corporation owns an integrated network of pipelines that transport hydrocarbon liquids and natural gas products produced primarily in Western Canada.

With operations across the hydrocarbon value chain, Pembina owns gas gathering and processing facilities, oil and natural gas liquids infrastructure and logistics services, and a growing export terminals business. Committed to delivering energy solutions that connect producers and consumers around the world, Pembina emphasizes safety and reliability across its integrated value chain, in support of a more sustainable future.

Constantly evolving by leveraging advanced technologies that integrate with its business processes, Pembina recently adopted both SAP BW/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) to transform into a data-literate organization operating at the intersection of actions and insights. According to Anitha Swaminathan, Supervisor for SAP Reporting and Analytics at Pembina, the resultant efficiencies have changed the way data is used at Pembina to drive business outcomes.

“In the past, users couldn’t get everything they were looking for from one point of entry,” Swaminathan told ASUG. “That was the beginning of the journey we’ve undertaken in the last couple of years, to transform and become more digitally driven, data-focused, and data-centric.”

Digitally Driven, Data-Focused, and Data-Centric

Though Pembina's history with SAP technology dates back to its early years, the company first implemented SAP S/4HANA in 2018, gaining efficiencies as a result. Even so, employees faced challenges driving insights at every level of the organization, given that data was dispersed across systems and lines of business.

Historically, Pembina business users compiled data offline or in a non-integrated reporting tool to make informed decisions. The business relied on technology resources to pull data for ad-hoc requests and to build custom reports. Productivity was lost due to the effort required to consolidate reports, and technology teams were required to generate bespoke reporting due to varying levels of expertise with reporting tools across resources.

Within the past two years, Pembina has enabled a new, modernized, and future-proof SAP Analytics architecture to lead the next phases of its digital transformation. The first key modernization was introducing SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server (SLT) replication—a trigger-based data replication method in HANA systems—from S/4HANA to BW/4HANA, enabling real-time reporting capabilities and giving business users the ability to see the impact of their changes in the source system immediately in analytics and gain actionable insights. 

The second modernization was the introduction of SAP Analytics Cloud dashboards to pull data from multiple sources, providing end users with one platform for their business insights. The self-service component of SAC allowed users to monitor insights in real time. 

SAC became a one-stop-shop for SAP analytics at Pembina, with links to SAP Analysis for Microsoft Office (AO) reports allowing Pembina's team to dive deeper and slice and dice data. Lastly, the integration of other SAP Cloud platforms like SuccessFactors, Ariba, and Concur, along with other non-SAP systems, has provided Pembina with the ability to gain deeper insights across multiple SAP and non-SAP systems data.

As Swaminathan will discuss at the ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Oil, Gas & Energy conference (September 14-15; in Dallas, TX), Pembina’s investment in SAC not only empowered self-service reporting but improved collaboration between teams through its user-friendly interface. SAP’s security model, meanwhile, kept data safe and ensured quality self-service data.

While Azure Databricks and Microsoft Power BI made up two additional analytics streams at Pembina, SAP BW/4HANA now serves as the company’s core business warehouse platform for all SAP reporting, feeding data to all the dashboards established through SAC. By consolidating legacy BW systems and migrating reports from other areas to that central warehouse system, Pembina has built the majority of its data foundations within SAP BW/4HANA. From that point, it's been more achievable for Swaminathan’s team—which is focused on providing enterprise-wide reporting—to build data models robust enough to answer any business question and enable self-service capabilities across the organization.

Efficiencies and Outcomes

Pembina’s successful roll-out of SAC, together with its investment in SAP BW/4HANA, has enabled the company to establish a common platform for business users and make it accessible through a modern, visual interface, unlocking actionable insights with real-time data and balancing self-service demand for ad-hoc report creation and exploration.

After rolling out SAC, Pembina reported a 99% year-over-year increase in its SAC viewership and a 350% increase in its SAC and AO user base from 2020.

In advising other companies pursuing similar data analytics transformation, Swaminathan stressed the importance of partnering with business leaders rather than keeping initiatives IT-led. “We moved in lockstep with the business to keep them involved,” she said. “With IT-driven projects, there can be pushback, and change management becomes difficult after you can invest all this money; it defeats the purpose if people don't use the tools and technology or find value. Business engagement was key.”

Overall, Pembina’s journey has required an agile approach to project management and execution. Swaminathan added that the 80-20 rule, asserting that 80% of outcomes result from 20% of all causes for a given event, was useful to consider and allowed Pembina to prioritize its most potentially productive activities in transformation projects.

“We took an agile approach to implementing the reporting solutions by breaking the overall business requirements into multiple, monthly releases rather than one big go-live,” Swaminathan said. From there, teams would continue to put reports into production, test them, train super-users to go out and socialize dashboards with wider groups, then solicit feedback to inform future releases. “It’s been an iterative approach, and that’s worked very well for us,” she said.

Moreover, the focus on change management and training for each stream has enabled users across Pembina to leverage the self-service tools to better understand and share insights. A community of users at Pembina has been established and continues to grow. With live, recorded, and documented training available, users can develop their own acumen to find, run, bookmark, share, and even create their own stories in SAC.

“Within Pembina, we’re moving toward a hub-and-spoke operating model,” Swaminathan said. “IT still takes care of the data governance and makes sure you build data models in a way more easily adopted by everyone across Pembina, as opposed to siloed groups of users."

To that end, Pembina established a set of smaller analytics teams, which assist with change management around the adoption and use of SAC and other SAP systems. “That’s helping with data literacy,” she said. “Those teams advocate for the use of SAC as a technology platform, which is helping us get to where we want to be.”

Reflecting on the overall journey, Swaminathan adds that "Pembina's uncommon approach to making sure we measure the utilization of what we build, and ensure end users are getting value, has been a key to our success." 

For more on Pembina's journey with SAP Analytics, attend the ASUG Best Practices: SAP for Oil, Gas & Energy conference (Sept. 14-15; in Dallas, TX; register here).

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