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.

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

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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Extending SAP S/4HANA Applications using the SAP Cloud Platform

Authored by: JS Irick, TruQua Enterprises

The purpose of this blog is walk through a real-world scenario that showcases how SAP Fiori apps can be extended using the SAP Cloud Platform.  SAP Fiori applications are a revolutionary step forward for business users, streamlining key business processes, and providing centralized, role based applications for end users.

One of the key features of the S/4HANA Fiori based applications is that you can extend (provide new features) for these applications in the Cloud by leveraging SAP Cloud Platform.  SAP Cloud Platform provides a simple, secure way to add additional visualizations as well as functional changes to your user’s key applications.

The below demo shows the complete end-to-end process of adding new functionality to the Fiori Purchase Order application.  First, we will add an additional field to the purchase order screen, to show updating the “view”.  We will also update the “controller” to add Slack integration, so that the requesting user will receive a chat message when their PO is approved or denied.

Please see the below video stepping through the complete end-to-end process of creating these extensions.  A transcript is also included below.

If you would like to unlock the power of S/4HANA Applications for your users, contact TruQua today at info@truqua.com to learn how.

Transcript:

To start a demo instance of SAP Fiori will be created. These instances are available via a free 90-trial available at: https://www.sapfioritrial.com (You’ll simply need your S-User ID to get started). Utilizing SAP’s free trial offer is a great way to explore new apps and examine extensibility options both of which can be a critical step towards building your business case for SAP S/4HANA or other various SAP Fiori Applications.

For the purposes of this example, we are going to extend the Approved Purchase Order screen. Within this Approved Purchase Order application, users are able to view existing purchase orders, approve or reject purchase orders, forward purchase orders to appropriate personnel with more details.

The first step is to change a few of the values that appear on screen. In order to complete this task, we’ll need to examine and change the logic that powers the application.

We can navigate over to SAP’s Web IDE to view a few of the ways that these extensions can be performed.  It’s very easy to pull your applications in either through the SAP Cloud Connector or through various SAP Cloud Platform applications.

Let’s pull in a new extension project.

As you can see, there are a variety of applications available, so we can simply click the application we are looking for and it will be added as a new project.

Within these applications there are a number of extensibility points built in. In order to better understand extensibility points, let’s go ahead and walk through the process for generating them.

The first option is to create a new extension. However, through this wizard it can be challenging to understand what you’re really looking at.

We’re going to actually exit out of the wizard and use the Extensibility Pane instead.

Now, once in the Extensibility pane, we can see that it pulls in the data for you and we are also able to view all of the extensibility points on the right hand-hand side.

Now, let’s switch to Extensibility Mode

Now as we go through and look at the various areas, we can actually see the part of the application.

The next step in the sequence is to extend this information into the header.

As you can see the extension is currently empty here, but what we’re looking at is what is called an XML view.

Now, there are a couple of ways to build views in UI5 and XML is one them. You can also build a view using JavaScript if more flexibility is needed. For the purposes of this exercise we’ll use XML.

A key requirement is that we do not want to custom code our application. We want to see the data that we’re pulling in, so to do that let’s go ahead and change this to the Layout view.

Once in the Layout Editor, we can see that the XML view is completely empty.

We are going to add an object attribute. We select our dataset (these are all the various datasets that are coming into this application). In this case, we want the headers added, so here we’ll just drop in an object attribute.

So now let’s say we want to show the company code. We can scroll down through our options and we can see the data type. Now we can just go ahead and double click “CompanyCode Description” to add it to the attribute.

Next, we will go ahead and run it.

Once we’ve run our application, we can see our data and our company code information.

We can now deploy this application either to the cloud or on-premise.

What we’ve just illustrated is the easier part of extensions. As mentioned there are two different kinds of extensions we are going to look at, extending the views (which we just did) and extending the controller, which is the actual business logic, so the logic that powers your application.

Here we will walk through the process for extending the controller. What you’re seeing in the below is a screenshot of an overload of various functions that are being called.

What I’m looking for are real-time notifications of my approvals and rejections. For example, if I’m the person waiting to hear about the status of purchase order, I want to know right away, without having to even check my email.

There are a number of ways that we can do this but many of our clients are now using the chat client Slack, so we’re going to set up our system so that the person waiting to hear about the status of the PO receives a Slack Message.

The key parts you’ll want to take note of, for example, is just how easy it is to pull out the important business properties of the data you’re working with, and you can make a very simple post with that data.

Here we are looking at approval or rejection of the purchase order. First, we’re going to make the following changes:

  • Change our text
  • Change our color
  • Add a link so the original purchase order can be accessed

Then we’re going to go ahead and approve and this message will be sent to Slack.

 

And as we can see our notification in Slack has arrived, so we can go ahead and approve this purchase order.

For more information on TruQua Enterprises, visit us online or follow us on Twitter at @TruQuaE.

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