With SAP S/4HANA, SAP launched a comprehensive solution for the financial sector in 2015. The software giant from Walldorf is promising its customers nothing less than to smooth the path for the digital transformation of the financial area. But what does this transformation mean specifically for financial departments? Anna Kremer, finance and reporting expert at Q_PERIOR, casts a practiced eye over the capabilities and effects of the SAP solution on financial departments.
One booking voucher – any number of dimensions
As shown in Fig. 1, S/4HANA Finance allows any number of dimensions to be added to the reporting process – by contrast with the classic new general ledger. Fig. 1 shows an example of the composition of an entry for an invoice as currently found in many companies. Until now, many companies whose financial solutions are built on classic databases, have accepted this restriction as any addition of further dimensions would negatively impact the capacity and performance of their database.
This limitation becomes a thing of the past with the new financial solution from SAP. As well as standard fields, users now have the option, as shown in Fig. 1, to add as many extra dimensions as they like. “We have already tested up to 50 dimensions with one large insurance company, and it worked smoothly,” states Anna Kremer, Manager at Q_PERIOR, reporting on her practical experience. Multidimensional reporting offers much better evaluation capabilities than older solutions.
Depth of detail
Dispensing with the aggregation of data
Problems with regard to the depth of information have been consigned to the past with S/4HANA Finance. This is due to the fact that SAP’s new financial solution returns the reporting function to ERP – a benefit of the HANA platform used. This development offers financial experts numerous advantages: they can access all the information directly in the ERP system and there conduct evaluations using BI tools. These are high-performance tools which can visualize evaluations, present data in meaningful ways or compare budget figures with actuals – all of it on the ERP level of detail and in real time.
Reporting not just fast, but in real time
Besides its multidimensional capabilities and the high level of detail in the reporting process, S/4HANA also stands apart from other solutions in terms of speed. All the dimensions for any posting procedure are filled in real time. That means that at the very moment the posting is made, the data can be directly evaluated with BI tools. This represents a significant difference from current circumstances in many financial departments where data only become available for analysis after a delay.
Single Source of Truth
Many dimensions – one data source
When producing reports, S/4HANA Finance always refers to a single central document (see Fig. 2), the “Unified Journal”. This document is the Single Source of Truth. This is a kind of master table from which all the relevant information needed for any evaluation, is drawn. Previously, any evaluation spanning several sub-ledgers could only be made manually by exporting different data to Excel and combining them outside the system. In addition, there is no further need to reconcile FI and CO as all postings, both FI and CO, are contained in this “Unified Journal”.
S/4HANA Finance offers new options for making reports more meaningful and flexible, and it opens the way for the digital transformation of financial departments. The position of finance and controlling as business partners is further reinforced as a result. For optimum use, thought should be given to how decisions can be supported by it. S/4HANA creates a genuine basis for uniform, company-wide reporting.