New Perspectives Blog Series: Digital Transformation with SAP S/4HANA

Welcome to TruQua’s New Perspectives blog series.  This blog series provides a platform for our consultants to share their perspectives, insights, and experiences on emerging technologies such as SAP HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud. 

Today we are speaking with TruQua Senior Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker, Matt Montes. Matt specializes in digital financial transformation, using the Central Finance deployment option to help customers leverage the financial and controlling components SAP S/4HANA without disrupting their current landscape.

 

 

Perspective 1: Looking Back to ECC

JS Irick: Matt, you represent a new generation in that you started your consulting career just before Simple Finance was released, so you are one of the first industry experts who “Grew Up” with S/4HANA. Obviously, you spend a lot of time with previous ERP versions working with Central Finance, as well as needing to communicate effectively with business stakeholders who are in the system day-to-day. There are hundreds of articles about what people with extensive ECC 6.0 think of S/4HANA, but I’d like to flip that on its head. What is your perception of ECC 6.0?

Matt Montes: This is a great question, especially in the context of how my SAP career started. My first implementation as an SAP consultant was actually a BPC Standard (10.0) Financial Consolidation project for one of the largest utility companies in Texas. To provide some context here, this project dealt with 55+ company codes and an enormous amount of master data. As you can imagine, I was in SAP terminology overload and immediately overwhelmed. Insert ECC6.0. Once I gained access to ECC I realized that all the information I needed was at my disposal, and quickly began analyzing and dissecting the Enterprise Structure.

From here I was able to better understand how SAP modeled core FI concepts (Company Code, G/L Account, Version) and tie them back to BPC. This was my lightbulb moment per se, which allowed me to start connecting the dots between the various financial modules and their integration points.

Taking what I learned in FI and figuring out how that tied into the Controlling and Logistics modules allowed me to gain a more holistic understanding of ECC. ECC to me is a revolutionary ERP that can be strategically leveraged to improve financial proficiency throughout an organization. Today’s strategic conversations are hyper-focused on S/4HANA being the next generation ERP, specifically for those organizations looking to undergo a financial transformation and gain the benefits of a relational database, real-time centralized financials, and a unified financial table (ACDOCA). However, I will argue that without the core concepts and modules within ECC, S/4HANA wouldn’t be as profound as it is today. This is bolstered by the fact that when I deliver customer demos of S/4HANA I tend to focus on the Fiori user experience, as this is an added benefit to the core concepts and modules that the customer is already used to in ECC” Ultimately, my perception of ECC is that it is the foundation for what an ERP should be, while simultaneously allowing S/4HANA to build upon that core foundation and deliver additional value.

JS Irick:  I love the positive take.  ECC stands as a true technical accomplishment, weathering major infrastructure, network, architecture and industry changes. It is refreshing to hear someone talk about the benefits of S/4HANA without denigrating the parts of ECC that have aged poorly.

You talk about three key benefits – being on a relational database, real-time centralized financials, and the Universal Journal.  Frankly, all three are critical, can you dive down on one of them a bit more to give our readers some more insights?

Matt Montes: Absolutely. As you are aware, financial reporting in ECC today can be quite convoluted as there are a variety of tables that house actuals data (BSEG, BKPF, COEP, COBK, FAGLFLEXA, etc). This often leads to a BW driven reporting solution with multiple cubes pointed to multiple tables, and data is loaded via batch jobs. The Universal Journal (ACDOCA) is a game-changing concept as it allows enterprises to persist all of their actuals data in one central table, which is a stark contrast to the complexity associated with a BW reporting solution. In addition to housing actuals data in one universal table, the data is also written to ACDOCA in real-time, which eliminates the need for batch jobs and provides the business with quick access to their data. Centralized reporting and real-time data can significantly increase how businesses operate and conduct their financial reporting and analytics.

 

 

Perspective 2: Hidden Advantages of SAP S/4HANA

JS Irick: With its strategically limited scope and replication-based architecture, Central Finance implementations are an order of magnitude faster than a full-blown S/4HANA rollout. This means users get into the system on live data fast. Based on the compressed timeline, I would expect the transition to the Universal Journal and Fiori based applications to be even more refreshing. Everyone’s S/4HANA talk track seems the same “single source of truth, profitability on all dimensions, role-based mobile enabled user experience, etc. etc.”. What are some of the S/4HANA advantages in process, UX, reporting or operation that doesn’t get enough press in your opinion? Sell me on S/4, “What nobody mentions, but you’ll love is ______”.

Matt Montes: There are some benefits of S/4HANA that are going to steal the headlines, such as increased performance, coding block simplification, digital core, and unified financials. However, those benefits barely scratch the surface on what makes S/4HANA the ERP of the future. Fiori gets a lot of praise, rightfully so, but the praise usually highlights the tile-based user experience or mobile accessibility. What isn’t as talked about is the innate drill-down functionality and linkage amongst the financial tiles.

For example, within Fiori, a financial analyst can select from a variety of tiles such as display financial balances, display financial line items, manage journal entries, or journal entry analyzer. However, if they were to start with the financial balances tile (summary level data), they can seamlessly drill-down to the line items without having to open another tab or access a different tile. Furthermore, from the line item tile, the end user can now manage journals from a specific document or run a journal entry analyzer report. To me, this adds an enormous amount of value for the financial analyst or accountant who needs quick and easy access to their data. When accessing data via ECC or S/4HANA you are susceptible to multiple sessions and multiple TCODES to access data, and this isn’t efficient nor effective. Everybody talks about “single source of truth”, but doesn’t mention the operational benefits of having an actual, plan, and consolidated data spread across ACDOCA, ACDOCP, and ACDOCU. Think about the reporting landscape today for an ECC environment, which is almost always a batch process populating various BW cubes in which reports are subsequently built off of. In addition to the batch processing causing a delay in real-time reporting, there is also a concern of reconciling the data in ECC vs what was loaded into the BW cubes. The operational benefits of having three core financial tables with actual, plan, and consolidated data persisted in real-time, which can then be queried through Analysis for Office, Fiori, or CDS views is unquantifiable. S/4HANA’s value proposition lies with its ability to integrate a multitude of technologies and software’s into one all-inclusive ERP that meets statutory, management, and internal requirements.

JS Irick: That’s a great way to describe the tangible benefits of the improved user experience. I hear “Role-Based UX” so often, but you’ve really explained what that means in terms of the user experience within discrete processes.

I’m a huge fan of the Launchpad UX in S/4HANA and SAC. Not only for the simplified way to change your shortcuts/tiles, but also the fact that you can introduce key metrics into your Launchpad. A question for you – Have you seen much adoption of the Fiori KPI tiles? To me, they’re one of the 4 pillars of S/4HANA reporting (along with AO, SAC and Fiori Reports), but I don’t see them mentioned very often.

Matt Montes: This is a great point JS, I haven’t seen much adoption of the Fiori KPI tiles; however, I do have some hands-on experience using them. In one of my previous engagements, we leveraged Fiori KPI tiles and SAP Smart Business to create utility-centric tiles. In the utility industry companies have to report two sets of financials, one for GAAP accounting and another to abide by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) standards. Within the FERC reporting requirements are metrics like Rate of Return, Rate Base, Return on Equity, Capital Structure, and Revenue Requirement. Each of these metrics is vital to a utilities regulatory decision-making process, as well as determining the amount of money they can recoup on their infrastructure-based investments (Power Plants, Natural Gas Pipelines, Water Treatment Plants, etc). The Fiori KPI tiles and SAP Smart Business enabled us to create a utility-focused dashboard within Fiori that gave business users a medium to analyze their regulatory data. I think as Fiori continues to evolve, we will start to see a lot more integration of the KPI tiles, specifically as companies work towards building an S/4HANA environment with actual, plan, and consolidated data.

 

 

Perspective 3: Upskilling for the Future

JS Irick: In my opinion, your dedication to educating and training our Central Finance customers is crucial to our project success, and one of the reasons your customers are so happy with the final result. Any major technology disruption can be really scary to IT organizations because their day-to-day requirements don’t slow down, even as this major shift in their role is on the horizon. What’s your actionable advice for gearing up for S/4HANA, especially on a tight schedule?

Matt Montes: You bring up a really good point here. Digital transformations or changes in technology can be very demanding on the IT organization. Asking someone to acquire a skillset in new technology while simultaneously maintaining their day-to-day duties can be incredibly cumbersome. My advice would be simple, understand your organizations business processes and financial data model as best you can in order to reduce any uncertainties and close any knowledge gaps. Said more precisely, understand what modules of your ERP are being utilized and what data is associated with those modules. As an SAP consultant, we often analyze business processes, master data, and configuration to gain an understanding of an enterprise. Therefore, IT organizations can also embark on a similar exercise to analyze and digest the business processes, master data, and configuration that make up their organization. This understanding helps to eliminate any uncertainties and close any potential knowledge gaps as the gearing up for S/4HANA occurs. Another approach to gearing up for S/4HANA is to undergo a POC that is designed to address the potential uncertainties or gaps that may exist within the ERP. POC’s can be extremely informative if positioned correctly, and they help to ramp up the end users by giving them hands-on experience prior to the full implementation. A majority of the configuration and master data that exists within ECC will be leveraged and reimplemented in some form or fashion into S/4HANA; therefore, truly understanding the inner workings of your ERP will help to reduce some of the barriers to entry that come with S/4HANA.

Another approach to gear up for S/4HANA is through training or knowledge transfer sessions. At TruQua, we understand that a lot of the changes that come with a digital transformation often produce more questions than answers, so we have developed a repository of training material known as TruCert. The TruCert material can be compiled and constructed to address one technology in detail, or multiple technologies at a high-level. In conclusion, understanding your ERP at a process level, gaining hands-on experience with S/4HANA, and ramping up on your S/4 knowledge are all ways in which the digital transformation to S/4HANA can become less intimidating.

JS Irick: “Truly understanding the inner workings of your ERP will help to reduce some of the barriers to entry that come with S/4HANA” – I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head here. Those who truly understand their current system are indispensable in a Financial Transformation. Can you lay out a couple of areas where customer knowledge is crucial? I know that’s a super broad question, but I’m looking for something along the lines of “Understanding Customer/Vendor enhancements vis-à-vis the move to Business Partner”. 

Matt Montes: Customer Vendor Integration (CVI) to Business Partner is definitely a big component of the transition to S/4HANA; however, for me the most important area of customer knowledge lies in the ability to understand and speak to the cost flow and end-to-end business processes associated with your ERP. It is one thing to understand your ERP at a process level, but even more important is understanding what master data and configuration points are being leveraged throughout those processes. It is critical to not only understand how things are done, but why they are being done as well. For example, a quick analysis of an ERP can uncover the fact that certain costs booked to sending Cost Centers are ultimately settled to a Fixed Asset; however, understanding why those costs are being settled and what configuration is dictating that settlement is exponentially more valuable. To me, this type of skill-set and knowledge can be the difference between a good implementation and a great one.

Matt Montes, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. S/4HANA and Financial Transformation are such broad topics, with so much content published daily, that it is really refreshing to sit down and speak with an expert about a few key areas. All the best in your upcoming projects and I look forward to speaking with you again.

About our contributors:

JS Irick

JS Irick

Director of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence

JS Irick has the best job in the world; working with a talented team to solve the toughest business challenges.  JS is an internationally recognized speaker on the topics of Machine Learning, SAP Planning, SAP S/4HANA and Software development. As the Director of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at TruQua, JS has built best practices for SAP implementations in the areas of SAP HANA, SAP S/4HANA reporting, and SAP S/4HANA customization.     

Matt Montes

Matt Montes

SAP Financials Senior Consultant, Trainer, and Speaker

Matt Montes Montes is a Finance and Data-driven professional currently working as an SAP Financials Senior Consultant. He received his education from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Finance and a minor in Accounting. His professional experience is comprised of financial analysis, budgeting, consolidation, accounting, and data analytics. Matt Montes has 4 years of financial consulting experience utilizing Central Finance, S/4HANA, ECC, Fiori, and BPC. In addition to 2 full lifecycle implementations, product development, and 6 POC’s, Matt Montes also works as a trainer and content developer. Matt Montes has conducted two internal and external training covering Central Finance, Group Reporting, SAC, and Reporting & Analytics. Additionally, Matt Montes has written and delivered two blogs, a webinar, and a 3-part demo series on Central Finance.

Thank you for reading this installment in our New Perspectives blog series. Stay tuned for our next post where we will be talking to Recruiting Director Stephanie Hettrich on identifying and developing young consulting talent.

For more information on TruQua’s services and offerings, visit us online at www.truqua.com. To be notified of future blog posts and be included on our email list, please complete the form below.

 

Mapping Planned Data from SAP Analytics Cloud to SAP S/4HANA: A Short Tutorial

SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) combines the flexibility of the cloud with the ability to run new deep-level analytics allowing greater insights into critical business processes. A powerful and agile tool for planning, analytics, and predictive insights, SAP Analytics Cloud enables full-fledged collaboration from anywhere in the world and provides real-time connectivity to on-premise systems such as SAP S/4HANA to removing traditional barriers and accelerating critical business processes.

This blog will walk through a Revenue and Cost Planning example and illustrate how to export and map that planning data from SAC into S/4HANA.

 

Planning in SAP Analytics Cloud: A Revenue and Cost Planning Example

With the release of SAP Analytics Cloud, enterprise planning has never been easier or more efficient.  With a wide array of planning capabilities and features coupled with the ability to separate hypothetical business scenarios from real data, companies are able to drive better business outcomes with collaborative enterprise planning while also gaining full alignment across all areas of the business.

In this example, you’ll see there are two planning-enabled tables located within a story in SAP Analytics Cloud. The charts on the right focus on gross margin by product and total revenue by product, which will update automatically as entries in the tables are adjusted. These entries can be made at a summarized node level by cost center groups, material hierarchies, or planned at the base level, by SKU or customer.

Source: TruQua Internal Systems

 

When changing the data, a draft version is created for the end-user to run their what-if planning scenarios on. This means that data changes made by the user will not be implemented until the user confirms and publishes the data. When publishing, users are provided the option to either confirm all their changes made into the model or revert to the original data. SAP Analytics Cloud is also able to highlight any data changes made to keep track of any modifications.

 

Source: TruQua Internal Systems

 
Exporting and Mapping Planned Data from SAP Analytics Cloud into SAP S/4HANA

Now that our we’ve run our what-if scenarios and published the data, we want to export that data into SAP S/4HANA. Thanks to the tight integration between SAC and SAP S/4HANA, we can write the new plan data directly to the S/4HANA planning table (ACDOCP).

 

Source: TruQua Internal Systems

 

Utilizing the easy-to-use mapping services from the SAP Analytics Cloud model, we can select what fields to map SAP Analytics Cloud dimensions to then assign those dimensions to S/4HANA fields. This is a one-time process to define or update the mappings and can be scheduled per implementation requirements.

Source: TruQua Internal Systems

 

Another point worth noting, is that within the SAP Analytics Cloud Dimension to S/4HANA field mapping process, users have the ability to create filters on their planned data as well. Meaning they be selective in the data that they upload, such as only uploading a certain period / year, or only a single cost center node. In the Versions and Categories, users may map one Analytics Cloud version to multiple S/4HANA Categories. In this example we see PLN version mapped on SAP Analytics Cloud to PLN, PLN01, and PLN02 in SAP S/4HANA.

Source: TruQua Internal Systems

 

Once the data has been successfully exported to S/4HANA, a quick ACDOCP query verifies our results.

Source: TruQua Internal Systems

 

SAP provides a wide variety of out-of-the-box sample content to inspire users on the endless creative possibilities found in SAP Analytics Cloud. With SAC’s connection possibilities (such as S/4HANA, BPC, BW, and more), systems integration previously limited to heavy IT involvement is within reach. For organizations looking to detach from a decentralized planning process, and reach collaborative enterprise planning, SAP Analytics Cloud is a perfect fit.

[This post is based on SAP Analytics Cloud version 2019.5.1 and S/4HANA 1809 SP01.]

Stay tuned for our next blog where we show you how this data can be consumed in Group Reporting and used for consolidation purposes. For more information on SAP Analytics Cloud, S/4HANA, Group Reporting, and how they can take your business intelligence to the next level, please fill out the form below.

 

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/ 

 

For more information about TruQua, fill out the form below and we will contact you soon.

 

SAPinsider Financials 2018 | Key Takeaways from Prague

JS Irick is the head of development at TruQua Enterprises, LLC.

Greetings from Prague, where I just finished presenting at SAPinsider Financials 2018. In between visiting the castle, bridges, and museums, TruQua presented eight sessions, where conference attendees learned more about SAP Central Finance, S/4HANA, SAPAnalytics Cloud, Machine Learning and Driver-Based Planning. Below are my five key takeaways from SAPinsider Financials 2018. 

1)  It’s not Business Planning. It’s Collaborative Enterprise Planning.
I really like this branding decision, as it empowers customers and consultancies with a strong understanding of the enterprise as a whole.“Destroying data silos” sounds great in the abstract, but without the cross-disciplinary skillset necessary to leverage the unified view of your business, you won’t truly seize the value provided. Drill Back has changed from a Finance-to-Finance concept, to a Finance-to-Business one. HR, Supply Chain, Demand Planning, Trade Promotion all have incredibly rich solutions, and theability to integrate these solutions through the planning process providesunparalleled agility through Collaborative Enterprise Planning.

2) Get busy living in S/4 and SAC.
The SAP message is clear: S/4HANA and SAP Analytics Cloud are the future. Even if these technologies are years down your roadmap, there are ways to begin seizing value from these technologies right now. SAP Analytics Cloud, with its strong connectivity, provides carve-out planning and analytics scenarios which provide for exceptionally quick time-to-value. From an  S/4HANA perspective, there is a significantly quicker option for S/4HANA Finance with Central Finance, which significantly cuts both the risk and cost. Even with S/4HANA well down the road, working on an Analytics roadmap in addition to your technical roadmap ensures that your journey to the Digital Core will drive true Financial Transformation.

3) SAPinsider conferences provide tremendous access and value.
Well-prepared and well-informed customers will always get the most from their consulting dollar. Looking at the table next to me during a brief pause in “Ask the Experts,” I saw SAP’s Senior Director of Product Marketing for Planning & Analysis, working with customers to define theirAnalytics roadmap with SAC, and SAP’s Global Solution owner for Central Finance, discussing Central Finance strategy and roadmap. Meanwhile, one ofTruQua’s principal Consultants was walking a customer through the selection criteria for Master Data harmonization in Central Finance. Each of these brief discussions provided value more than worth the price of the event. My recommendation is to attend the conference with key questions/areas of interest, and to take advantage of the access provided during the designated times.

4)  The difference between the “haves” and“have-nots” in Analytics is striking, especially in terms of AI/ML.
As a professional, you must be your own best advocate and as your analytics opportunities grow, you must have a vendor and implementation partner who can pierce the veil and provide you with real insight, real education and real enablement.  There are few things more dangerous to your business than blindly following “black box” statistics or non-describable AI. SAP is doing a great job at bringing in these technologies in an explainable way, but it is up to customers to make sure they are constantly striving for transparency in their processes.

5) The future of SAP remains bright.
Visiting the SAP Analytics booth to discuss the latest SAC, S/4HANA, Central Finance and group reporting reaffirmed that the future of SAP is in great hands. Additionally, walking the conference floor and checking in with strong SAP partners such as Vertex and Tagetik showed the power of SAP HANA as a platform and the rewards that SAP’s dedication to integration brings their customers. Visiting one of the world’s great cities and collaborating with bright, engaged SAP and partner team members was inspiring.  The tools that SAP develops allow TruQua to partner with their customers and solve their biggest business challenges.

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Insights from the SAP Central Finance Exchange in Chicago

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.

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