What are Side Panels and how can they be used in SAP Central Finance?

Matt Montes is an SAP Financials Senior Consultant and Trainer at TruQua Enterprises.

Ever wondered what analyzing financial documents in SAP would be like without the laborious need of flipping from screen to screen and logging into multiple systems? Well, now you no longer have to wonder. This is a reality and it is an absolute game changer.

In a previous blog entitled “Central Finance Drill-Back to Source Document via SAP GUI and Fiori”, I introduced using Central Finance as a stepping stone to SAP S/4HANA and discussed the ability to drill-back to a source system document seamlessly. Now with Side Panel functionality, end users can access Central Finance document level visibility in the opposite direction (i.e. see the downstream Central Finance document details from within the originating document in the SAP source system). This is achievable through the use of SAP NetWeaver Business Client and Central Finance Side panels.

Side panels are exactly what they sound like, a side panel being displayed on the side of whatever transaction you are currently accessing. CHIP’s (short for “Collaborative Human Interface Parts”) are the different views being populated throughout the Side Panel that contain a variety of data. Side panels can be leveraged to display financial document information from the Central Finance system while in a source system transaction or vice-versa. Through the use of NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC), Remote Function Calls (RFC), and CHIP’s, FI document information and Central Finance master data can be retrieved and displayed as a side panel.

What do they look like and what information do they display?
At the time of this writing, there are two side panels and thirteen CHIPS that come system delivered with Central Finance. Figure 1 highlights what one of the Central Finance Side Panels looks like when accessing the data from a source system.

Figure 1 – Source System Side Panel

Side Panels can be accessed via the source or Central Finance system, with each CHIP displaying an array of information contingent on the TCODE and system (source or target) that you are accessing (Figure 2). For example, when accessing the FI Document-Header CHIP in the source system, the header information displayed will reflect the information stored in the Central Finance system. However, when accessing the FI Document-Header CHIP in the Central Finance system the information displayed will reflect the header information stored in the source system.

Figure 2 – Source System Side Panel (1)

As you saw in Figure 1, the FI Document side panel is accessing target system information via the CHIP’s listed in Figure 2. By quickly comparing the two document headers one can notice that the source system and target system document numbers are different. Additionally, one can quickly determine if there is any account mapping occurring between source and target by looking at the “Account Mapping” CHIP. Additionally, if Central Payment is active in the target system, the “Clearing Status” CHIP will reflect the status of that document in the target system.

Side Panel Architecture
The architecture for Side Panels can be a bit convoluted when considering the usage of NWBC, RFC’s, security roles, source system(s), and Central Finance. Let’s briefly discuss the two architectural approaches that can be taken when setting up and deploying side panel functionality.

 Figure 3 – One-system Side Panel architecture (2)

  1. One-system architecture in which the application and side panel content is all in one system. In this approach, the NWBC reads directly from the Central Finance system for the GUI transaction, RFC calls, and PFCG security roles. One note of importance is that regardless of the system you access the Side Panels from, they always run on the Central Finance system. Therefore, the RFC’s, which are configured in the Central Finance system, are used to pull data from both the source and target systems.

Figure 4 – Side-by-side Side Panel architecture (2)

2. A side-by-side architecture where the side panel application is running in a role system while the ERP application (Central Finance) is running on another system. In this approach, the NWBC reads from Central Finance and the Role system for the PFCG security roles. The main difference in this scenario is the GUI transactions and subsequent RFC calls are being executed in the role system and reading from the application system, whereas in scenario 1 both the GUI transactions and RFC calls are being executed in the same system.

Master Data and Other Use Cases
When implementing Central Finance, master data and master data mapping are always a huge topic of discussion. As you can see in Figure 5 below, the master data CHIP’s enable the end user to see any mappings between the source and target system for G/L’s, Customer, Vendor, and Cost Center. This is particularly critical when there are master data mappings in place, as the end user does not have to be in the target system to see the mappings. The master data mappings between source and target can be seen in near real-time all through the source system.

Figure 5 –  Master Data CHIP’s

Additionally, the master data displayed via the CHIP’s will appear with a blue hyperlink allowing the end user to drill-down and display the master data record itself (Figure 6).

Figure 6 – Cost Center CHIP’s and Master Data Display

Side Panels can serve multiple purposes outside of document and data comparisons. When posting a document in the source system there is always a risk that the document will error out in Central Finance due to missing configuration or master data. In this instance, Side Panels are intuitive enough to include the Application Interface Framework (AIF) errors in the message area of the Side Panel (Figure 7). Additionally, there is a button in the header CHIP that will take the end user directly to the AIF to reprocess the document.

Figure 7 – AIF Cockpit via Source System Side Panel

As of S/4HANA 1809, the Side Panels can also be leveraged for displaying Sales and Distribution (SD) or Materials Management (MM) documents. By displaying the SD invoice in VF03 or the MM invoice in MIR4, their corresponding FI documents and clearing status in the Central Finance system can be displayed. As mentioned earlier, these Side Panels can also be accessed via the Central Finance system, thereby enabling the various business units to analyze the source system data from within S/4HANA.

Conclusion
The side panel functionality provides immediate value to the end users by linking and displaying source and target documents side by side. The side by side display provides the end user with immediate visibility and transparency into the data without the hassle of flipping screens or logging on to multiple systems. Additionally, the side panels equip the end user with traceability and auditability of the master/transactional data being replicated to Central Finance. In this era of financial transformation, Side Panels are another value-driven functionality that can be leveraged by consultants and end users alike.

For more information on the functionality within Central Finance or an exploratory call on what an implementation would look like within your organization, contact us today at info@truqua.com or simply fill out our form below.

Sources

  • https://help.sap.com/viewer/26c2d5e366bc44c1a98f2a9212a0c49d/1809.000/en-US/b999637864ac4dc081b1b40e0be75413.html
  • https://blogs.sap.com/2013/02/25/side-panel-for-sap-business-suite/

SAP Central Finance: 4 myths and 1 truth

Julien Delvat is the SAP S/4HANA Practice Lead at TruQua Enterprises, LLC.

Despite numerous conferences, bootcamps, webcasts, workshops, or blogs on Central Finance, there continues to be a number of common misconceptions still circulating. Let’s take a step back and demystify the most common myths related to Central Finance. 

1 – Myth: Central Finance is only relevant for organizations with multiple source systems 

While it is true that Central Finance brings a lot of value to organizations with multiple SAP and non-SAP ERPs, it also reduces the risk for organizations going through a financial transformation. Several SAP customers are already leveraging Central Finance as a stepping stone to SAP S/4HANA. By starting the project with Finance, companies are able to cut back on the number of decisions needed at one time. Also, running Central Finance in parallel to their existing ERP limits the disruption to operations and significantly lowers the risk that a full ERP migration represents. 

2 – Myth: Central Finance prevents the adoption of SAP S/4HANA 

To the contrary. Central Finance extends upon a full SAP S/4HANA system. As such, Central Finance eases the adoption of SAP S/4HANA with a phased approach. Most organizations implementing Central Finance start with Central Reporting. From there, they can introduce financial shared services like Central Payments, Central Credit Check, or Tax Reporting. Later, Central Finance can serve as a platform for downstream systems like a data warehouse, planning, or consolidation system. Last, when the time is right, the source system can be fully migrated to the SAP S/4HANA platform. [1] 

3 – Myth: Central Finance is an expensive short-term solution 

Every organization tries to avoid or minimize temporary solutions that contribute to “regret costs”. Contrary to traditional data warehousing or custom reporting solutions, Central Finance leverages standard solutions for the load and replication of finance and controlling transactions. In addition, since the platform is based on SAP S/4HANA, all the configuration and migration work that occurs during a Central Finance project would also need to occur during an S/4HANA implementation. 

4 – Myth: Central Finance only works with SAP source systems 

Long-term SAP customers know that the support of non-SAP solutions is limited. This is simply because SAP developers are limited in their ability to work with “third-party” solutions. In the context of Central Finance, the solution lies in staging tables available on the SLT server. 

In addition, the SourceConnect solution by Magnitude offers out-of-the-box integration between the most popular ERP systems and SAP Central Finance. [3] 

 
                                                                       Third-Party Integration for Central Finance. Source: SAP [2] 

5 – Truth: Central Finance is stable and scalable 

Central Finance is a component of SAP S/4HANA that has been available since release 1610. With 2 major releases under its belt, the component is now very stable, especially considering that more than 250 customers have bought the license, more than 100 projects have started, and about 40 customers are live. 

                                                        Central Finance is part of S/4HANA and relies on SLT. Source: TruQua 

In addition to being part of S/4HANA, Central Finance relies on tried and true components like the SAP Landscape Transformation (SLT) and Application Integration Framework (AIF). All this contributes to an architecture that’s reliable and scalable for all scenarios. 

 

Conclusion 
Like many solutions, SAP Central Finance is complex and evolving rapidly. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts to validate your assumptions before starting a proof of concept or implementation project. 

 


Sources: 
 
[1] Best-Practice Document – Elements for Designing a Transition Roadmap to SAP S/4HANA 
https://d.dam.sap.com/a/OymUv/VA_S4HANA_17Q4_Dsgn_Trans_Rdmp_Whitpaper.pdf  

[2] Third-Party System Interface to Central Finance: Process and Architecture 
https://help.sap.com/viewer/26c2d5e366bc44c1a98f2a9212a0c49d/1709%20002/en-US/a1f017a504d44b9ebaa8018170d5b8b2.html  

[3] Magnitude SourceConnect – Third Party Integration for SAP Central Finance 
https://magnitude.com/blog/third-party-integration-sap-central-finance/ 

 

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Central Finance Drill-Back to Source Document via SAP GUI and Fiori

By: Matt Montes – Senior Consultant, TruQua

 

What is Central Finance?

SAP Central Finance is a product and finance focused deployment option of SAP S/4HANA, in which the financial and management accounting data from SAP and non-SAP systems are brought into SAP S/4HANA as a sidecar enterprise management system via a SAP Landscape Transformation (SLT) replication server. Due to the architecture of the solution, a Central Finance deployment is minimally disruptive to current ERP systems while, at the same time, allows enterprises to reap the benefits of SAP S/4HANA. One of those benefits is SAP S/4HANA’s “Universal Journal”, a table (named ACDOCA) where all transactional data including logistical information is stored at the lowest level of detail. The Universal Journal is accessed by reports and processes in real-time thereby reducing the need for batch jobs and reconciliation that are typically encountered in a traditional data warehousing solution. For a high-level illustration of what a typical Central Finance architecture looks like see the diagram below, also feel free to click here for some introductory details on Central Finance.

Central Finance System Architecture

Why is Drilling-Back to the Source System Important?

When discussing Central Finance as an approach to implementing SAP S/4HANA, one of the main discussion points is always around document traceability (especially when sourced from multiple source systems) and the ability to drill-back to the source system. Often is the case where the financial documents coming into Central Finance have a different document number than the source system they came from. At times, this can make document comparisons between source and target confusing and laborious. Fortunately, Central Finance has the ability to drill-back to the source document from within the target system’s user experience through the use of native SAP connectivity (known as a Remote Function Call or “RFC”). Additionally, with the introduction of SAP Fiori 2.0 and SAP S/4HANA 1709 this drill-back can now also be executed within SAP Fiori, the new SAP web-based user experience. This blog will highlight the drill-back functionality in both the traditional SAP graphical user interface (a.k.a. SAP GUI) and SAP Fiori, as well as discuss the potential benefits for the business and end user.

Benefits of Drilling-Back to the Source Document

At a recent event, known as Central Finance Exchange, SAP, TruQua, and Magnitude hosted 22 Central Finance customers from across North America. This event brought together companies from 13 unique industries and provided insight into the Central Finance mindset amongst these organizations. One of the notable data points was the fact that 75% of these customers have more than 5 source systems (click here to see the compiled data). As a financially focused end user, the idea of analyzing documents and data from 5+ systems can seem like a reconciliation and auditing nightmare. In order to articulate the true value of the drill-back functionality, here are 5 benefits of one of Central Finance’s powerful functionalities.

  1. Quickly identify which system the document originated
    • In a landscape with documents coming from multiple company codes and source systems, the document relationship browser and drill-back functionality allows the end user to quickly identify which system a particular document came from
  2. Seamless transition between target and source system
    • By following SAP’s recommendation of setting up the RFC as “current user”, a user with adequate security in the source system can access the source document from the target systems document relationship browser
    • This prevents the need for multiple logins or jumping screens to get from one session to another
  3. Immediate visibility into the document level detail and relationship browser
    • By drilling back to the source document, the end user has immediate access to all of the document level data as well as the header information.
    • Additionally, the end user can now navigate the document relationship browser within the source system to quickly identify if there are any other associated documents (Controlling, Material, COPA, etc.)
  4. Quickly compare different fields and values between source and target system
    • Mapping certain fields (cost center, profit center, business area, etc.) is fairly common when deploying Central Finance; therefore, the end user can leverage the drill-back functionality in order to quickly compare certain fields on the document.
    • For example, if the end user notices that a document in the target system has a cost center of 100000 but when drilling back to the source the cost center is 200000, then they can infer that cost center mapping is occurring
    • This is extremely valuable because the end user can also begin to familiarize themselves with the mapping that is occurring, thus improving their efficiency when analyzing and comparing the data.
  5. Leverage familiar transaction codes and functionality
    • When executing the drill-back to the source system the end user is exposed to the exact same transaction and screen they were just using in the target system; therefore, there is no need to learn how to operate any new functionality.
    • As you will see in a later section, the Fiori drill-back is very similar to the GUI drill-back, and all of the same functionality exists.

Executing the drill-back functionality in the SAP GUI

To execute the drill-back to the source system, start by displaying a financial document (FB03)  or a controlling document (KSB5) in the Central Finance system. Once the document is being displayed go to Environment à Document Environment à Relationship Browser. Once in the Document Relationship Browser you will see several documents and their relationship to the original document entered in FB03 (In this case document 1900040 is being displayed). Notice that each document has a corresponding logical system. The logical system associated with the various documents informs what system the document came from.

Displaying Document Relationship Browser in Source System

document relationship browser

As you can see in the screenshot above, accounting document 1900040 belongs to logical system TS3CLNT110, which is the Central Finance system. Additionally, there are two other documents with a logical system of SI1CLNT800, which is the source system where our RFC connection has been setup. In an instance in which there are multiple source systems setup to replicate to Central Finance the end user can immediately identify the documents origin all within the Central Finance system. By double clicking on either SI1 document the GUI will drill-back to the SI1 system and display that document; thus, granting the user with immediate access to the original document and all of its associated characteristics. Once done viewing the source system documents you can back out by hitting the green arrow and return right back to the target system.

Displaying Accounting document in Source System via drill-back

Displaying Controlling Document in Source System via Drill-Back

Displaying Controlling Document in Source System via Drill-Back

Executing the drill-back in Fiori using the Display Source Document Tile

Sticking with the document discussed earlier in the GUI section of this blog, you can launch the “Manage Journal Entries” tile and fill in the necessary fields to bring up document 1900040.

Manage Journal Entries Tile in Fiori

Manage Journal Entries Tile in Fiori

From here you can click on the “Related Documents” tab and notice that the layout is similar to what was shown previously in the Document Relationship Browser. Once here you can click on any of the source system documents (which can be identified based on the logical system) and then click “Display Source Document”.

Related Documents Tab of the Manage Journal Entries App

Related Documents Tab of the Manage Journal Entries App

Drilling down to Source Document in Fiori

Drilling down to Source Document in Fiori

A pop-up window will be generated, and you can now see the source system document and all of its associated characteristics. Additionally, you can navigate to the document relationship browser as you typically would in the GUI and drill down into the journal entry information by double clicking on any of the line items.

Displaying Source Document in Fiori via Drill-Back

Displaying Source Document in Fiori via Drill-Back

Demonstrating How to Access the Relationship Browser while in Fiori

Demonstrating How to Access the Relationship Browser while in Fiori

Conclusion

In conclusion, drilling back from a Central Finance system to a source system can be achieved through the SAP GUI or SAP Fiori Launchpad. This functionality helps to equip users with visibility and transparency into their financial documents and which system they originated from. The ability to see the source document information in conjunction with the system it came from, all while being able to drill-back into the system with the click of a button, will be invaluable for those enterprises with multiple source systems. One thing to note here is while the idea of “shared services” seems ideal there needs to be controls and security in place to ensure everyone has the proper insight and access to the information they need.

For more information on the functionality within Central Finance or an exploratory call on what an implementation would look like within your organization, contact us today at info@truqua.com or simply fill out our form below!


Insights from the SAP Central Finance Exchange in Chicago

 

Authored by:
Julien Delvat, SAP S/4HANA Practice Lead, TruQua

As of May 2018, SAP Central Finance has helped 40 live customers (out of 220 active projects) integrate source systems into S/4HANA. The Central Finance Exchange event hosted by TruQua and Magnitude was the opportunity to take a snapshot of the Central Finance customer base. Twenty-two customers attending the North America Central Finance EXCHANGE event answered the survey revealing surprising insights.

Central Finance Customer Profiles

All industries are represented, with Consumer Goods is leading (24%). Organization sizes vary from 0 – 25,000 employees (25%) to more than 100,000 employees (20%), with 50,000 – 100,000 being the most frequent (35%).

Since the event was hosted in Chicago, the North American attendees are the largest group (20%). Interestingly, 70% of the surveyed see themselves as global organizations.

Central Finance Priorities and Project Goals

Respondents shared their business priorities, mostly aligned around Speed & Efficiency (81%), Transparency & Accountability (81%), Operating Costs & Productivity (57%), and Strategy & Planning to Execution (48%). In that context, Central Finance is a natural choice.

When it comes to the Central Finance projects, the goals are also similar: Finance / Business Transformation (90%), Process Centralization (71%), Stepping Stone to S/4HANA (71%), Application / System Consolidation (57%), and Shared Services Process Executions (48%).

Central Finance Landscapes

Most projects are integrating 5-10 SAP source systems (60%). Almost all projects (91%) also integrate non-SAP systems, especially Oracle, PeopleSoft, Sage, or Navision. The total number of source systems ranges widely between 1 and more than 250. The majority of project data require a high level of data harmonization (53%) and finance transformation (50%).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Central Finance Exchange event was a great forum for Central Finance customers to share successes and challenges amongst peers. Discussions were very engaged around the need for master data and process standardization and the difficulties of change management. Overall, the group shared and learned a lot and is looking forward to the follow-up breakout working groups on CO-PA, planning, or machine learning.

For the latest information and updates on SAP Central Finance, contact the TruQua team today at info@truqua.com.

Questions or interested in learning more about TruQua? Contact us today:

 

SAP S/4HANA: Enabling Cross-System Treasury with Central Finance

Authored by Julien Delvat, TruQua

SAP S/4HANA deployed as central finance is typically considered to be the best option for organizations looking to report across multiple SAP and non-SAP ERP systems in real-time and at the transaction level. However, the harmonized information model provided by central finance is also the perfect platform to enable treasury applications.

* Note: some of the applications mentioned above require additional licenses. Contact your SAP representative for more information.

Harmonizing the Information Model

Implementing S/4HANA as Central finance requires a lot of coordination to synchronize the source systems. Several aspects of the information model need to be evaluated and potentially updated:

  • Controlling Area / Operating Concern / Segments
  • Company Codes
  • G/L Accounts / Cost Elements
  • Customers / Vendors / Business Partners
  • Profit Centers / Cost Centers / Activity Types
  • Plants / Materials
  • Fiscal Year Variant / Periods / Plan Versions
  • Number Ranges
  • Currencies / Units of Measures
  • Hierarchies
  • Custom Fields

Simplified Landscape and Mapping with Central finance. Source: SAP

This preliminary work is crucial for the success of any central finance project, especially for reconciliation with the source systems and to create a unique reporting analysis across the organization. So why not leverage this harmonized data model to enable more scenarios such as treasury?

Cash and Liquidity Management

Once the data is harmonized across multiple systems through Central finance, Cash Managers will be able to deploy Cash and Liquidity Management applications.

Cash Flow Analyzer

Cash Flow Analyzer helps with the analysis of aggregate amounts and line item details of short-term cash position, medium and long-term liquidity forecast, and actual cash flows over time.

Video Source: https://support.sap.com/content/dam/productfeatures/assets/00014/6CAE8B28C5DB1ED792B92BBD67F600C2/demos/02_Demo_Cash_Flow_Analyzer.mp4

Promise to Pay Integration

Forecasted cash flows get updated in real time whenever unconfirmed invoices are updated in the source system or in the central finance system with a promised and paid amount and date.

Bank Communication

Communication with the bank and maintenance of bank information can be performed centrally with central finance.

Bank Account Balance Reconciliation

Bank Reconciliation can be performed either in source systems or in the central finance system.

Bank Reconciliation Fiori Application. Source: SAP

Bank, House Bank, and House Bank Account

Similar to the Bank Reconciliation, the integration to Bank Services through OData can be managed from the central finance system instead of the source systems. In addition, the House Bank can be defined centrally through the new Bank Master Data apps. Also, the workflow functionality has been redesigned to improve the management of bank accounts.

In-House Cash

SAP supports a virtual bank to better handle internal payments. This feature internalizes intragroup payments to reduce risk, minimize external financial costs, streamline intercompany activities, and simplify external operations.

Treasury and Risk Management (TRM)

Instead of installing Treasury and Risk Management (TRM) on top of several source systems that may contain conflicting master data, central finance offers the possibility to setup TRM on top of a harmonized dataset that’s updated in real-time.

Assuming that the required master data and transaction data are connected into central finance, this deployment option will enable all features of SAP TRM:

  • Risk Analyzers (Credit, Market, Portfolio)
  • Exposure Management
  • Hedge Management
  • Transaction Manager (Money Market, Foreign Exchange, Derivatives, Debt Management, Securities, and Commodities)

SAP Treasury Applications. Source: SAP

Conclusion

For organizations relying on multiple ERP systems, treasury operations frequently turn into a spreadsheet nightmare. SAP S/4HANA deployed a central finance delivers a harmonized information model that is perfect for the deployment of applications like Treasury and Risk Management, Cash and Liquidity Management, In-House Cash, or Bank Communication.

For more information:


[1] Cash Flow Analyzer Overview
https://support.sap.com/content/dam/productfeatures/assets/00014/6CAE8B28C5DB1ED792B92BBD67F600C2/presentations/CashFlowAnalyzer.pdf

[2] House Bank Documentation
https://help.sap.com/viewer/ac319d8fa4ea4624b40a58d23e3c4627/1709%20001/en-US/715e8754dccbe85ee10000000a44176d.html

https://help.sap.com/viewer/ac319d8fa4ea4624b40a58d23e3c4627/1709%20001/en-US/715e8754dccbe85ee10000000a44176d.html

[3] SAP In-House Cash
https://www.sap.com/products/in-house-cash.html

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Take SAP Central Finance for a Test Drive Utilizing Cloud Technology

 

Authored by Julien Delvat, TruQua

Undertaking a digital transformation project can be frustrating at times. There are so many decisions to take regarding scope, architecture, sizing, performance, etc. There is always a risk that undersizing will be limiting the platform and that oversizing will be a waste of resources. In addition, team leads are always looking for any hands-on experience that could increase user adoption.

These challenges apply especially to SAP Central Finance, a deployment option for S/4HANA, SAP’s latest ERP. Customers tend to select a Central Finance strategy when:

  • A gradual landscape transformation is easier than a full system upgrade
  • The organization runs several SAP and / or non-SAP systems
  • Information needs to be collected and analyzed at the most granular level to support real-time decision making.

For organizations looking for a way to validate their strategy to adopt SAP S/4HANA using Central Finance, TruQua offers TruQloud, a cloud-based Try-and-Decide solution now supporting Central Finance pilots. Without any expensive and time-consuming capital expense requirement, simply leverage our secure TruQloud templates to connect Central Finance directly to your own data and see S/4HANA for yourself. Real-life data will contribute to a more accurate business case both technically and functionally.

 

Once a final decision to move forward with Central Finance has been made, you will have the opportunity to transition to your target platform, on-premise or in the cloud, while taking advantage of the early hands-on work that you already invested.

For more information on the Try-and-Decide offering, visit: https://www.truqua.com/project/try-and-decide-offering/ or contact TruQua at info@truqua.com.

Disclaimer: TruQloud is licensed for the testing and demonstration of Central Finance and SAP S/4HANA. As a licensed SAP development partner, TruQua can provide test and demo licenses for your proof of concept, free of charge.

Questions or interested in learning more about TruQua? Contact us today or follow us online:

 

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