Why This May Be of Value
While most SAP crowds have been busy networking during this week’s SAP TechEd in Las Vegas, other parts of SAP have not stopped communicating their offering to the marketplace. One such event took place on September 13, 2011 near Times Square in New York City. Co-hosted with PwC and Cundus at American Management Association Financial Executive Institute, SAP have offered a solution for financial reporting that looked a bit different than one presented at your regular high-tech event. As appropriate for a midtown Manhattan meeting it was all very serious and business suites were de rigueur. I have nothing against a little fun during tech shows, but it is sometimes good to see the other side as well.
Between HANA and mobile, Disclosure Management may not seem the most talked about solution, but for some customers it may turn out mission critical. Whoever has to close their books will know what I’m talking about. Disclosure Management will make both numeric and narrative peer group analysis easier, especially when collaboration is effected by workflow rather than emails and attachments. So, there is definitely room for growth.
Some More Details
Disclosure Management is making a heavy use of XBRL which is making steady progress into the corporate filings, especially in the context of IFRS and taxonomies. Those in turn are influenced by standard business reporting which is an initiative to streamline statutory reporting across jurisdictions of G-20 countries and beyond. There is still confusion as to the dates and the levels of compliance with different governmental entities, but this should change as more standards become diffused and adopted.
Some of you may be familiar with the high-pressure environment of financial reporting. Versioning and change approvals become critical. Disclosure management can be treated as an artisan’s tool to relieve some of the stress increased by multiple versions of Excel spreadsheets which often are linked and can be full of formulas as well as hard coded numbers. Audit trail becomes critical as auditors may question certain positions which puts all the parties at risk.
Thanks to Muthu Ranganathan’s efforts I was able to see the Disclosure Management in action and I can see a great potential in the tool itself as well as a complement to the existing post-GL SAP tools like Consolidation (EC-CS, SEM-BCS, and SBO EPM). The main chart shows the critical path of value flowing throughout the enterprise. Having roots in Consolidation, Disclosure Management can be considered not only the last mile of finance, but also allowing the last minute changes flow from GL, through Consolidation, to the Annual Report. Tagging and XBRL formatting also allow comparisons outside the reporting entity, within an industry and beyond. Having PDF’s versioned and compared with versioned Word documents should also satisfy the legal and investor relations departments of corporate clients.
I understand Disclosure Management is also present at TechEds, but it is the institution of the road show which makes the tool more accessible to financial management as they may not always be after the latest in technology, but rather like to see familiar tools like Word and Excel enhanced, which Disclosure Management makes transparent to the end users.
I would like to thank Birgit, Muthu, George (all from SAP), Mike (from PwC) and Jon (from Cundus) for organizing the event, presenting, and demoing Disclosure Management.