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Automating the Last Mile of Finance (#4)

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ERP + EPM + BI + Mobile = Instant Value for CFOs

   

According to AIIM Research, “in the Age of Facebook, organizations must redefine how they think about information management, control, and governance in order to deal with social technologies”. With the growing use of mobile tablets for enterprise we would like to provide Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) with an “anywhere – anytime” access to financial key performance indicators (KPIs) to better monitor their corporate financial results prior data is being made available to Board members, investors, financial institutions and shareholders.

Imagine EPM powered by in-memory technology smoothly combined with business BI and consumed on mobile through an awesome user experience where data smoothly flows from one system to the other in perfect automation. Imagine also an app which is priceless for business end-users within the office of finance when they perform their financial close-to-disclose process. Imagine CFOs being able to track the most important indicators of their financial report anywhere, in full security, and make sure all KPIs are “green lighted” prior financial statements are made available externally to their investors. The great news is that today CEOs and CFOs have the ability to leverage IT innovation to achieve a safer and faster “financial close-to-disclose” process by connecting enterprise performance management (EPM) applications, business intelligence (BI) tools and mobility. SAP is combining decades of business process knowledge with unprecedented IT innovation power to deliver instant value to our customers. Part of our forthcoming SAP® Financial Close and Disclosure Management rapid-deployment solution (see our previous article) we will release an app for iPad® bringing together EPM + BI + Mobile to help CFOs run the last meters of their “last mile of finance”, whether their company need to comply with international financial reporting standards (IFRS) or generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) such as U.S. GAAP.

 

Customer co-innovation

 

We have named this CFO app SAP Mobile Financial Close and have been developing it through our customer engagement initiative (CEI) approach. The CEI has been created in 2009 and is made to ensure customers get the SAP products they need to run their business better by influencing our strategy and software throughout the product lifecycle, from the early research step up to prototyping, development and testing. For the new mobile piece with which we are completing the “financial close-to-disclose” process, we engaged with customers following this CEI approach. The SAP Mobile Financial Close development has been performed in co-innovation with global customers located in three main geographies: US, Europe and Middle East. The CEI program started in Q4-2012 and since then has been an iterative engagement where  participating customers were previewing earlystage prototypes and where SAP has been refining the prototype according to collected customer inputs and feedbacks. By validating our development through co-innovation we are confident the app planned to made available for mass shipment will meet customer requirements both from an IT and business process perspective.

 

Mobility in the financial close to disclose process

 

When we started the design thinking, the first thing customers told us was “We want to use mobile during our last mile of finance process: not before, not after. For us the true value of mobility is to be able to use data on tablet device to help us close our financial books.” Therefore mobility is playing a central role in process, right between the financial consolidation and disclosure management applications (see the simplified process graph below).

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The SAP Mobile Financial Close app is designed to be used by CFOs during the few day period before the enterprise financial statements are made publicly available on their investor page, that is approximately 5 to 10 days before their quarterly books are closed. During this time typical CFOs activities are to polish final numbers, monitor key performance indicators multiple times a day, make sure they conform to forecast, prepare plan B communication when figures are not as expected, check whether everything’s green or if unexpected red lights appear, and immediately bring any critical issue to the attention of the entire Board including the CEO.

SAP Mobile Financial Close

 

SAP Mobile Financial Close will be smoothly integrated with SAP portfolio and link our EPM products to mobile through BI.

From an IT perspective the SP0 release is planned to bring together the following systems:

  • SAP® Business Planning and Consolidation 10.0 for SAP NetWeaver – powered by SAP HANA™
  • SAP® BusinessObjects™ Web Intelligence
  • SAP® BusinessObjects™ Mobile
  • Apple® iPad® iOS operating system

From a business process perspective the SP0 release is planned to include the following capabilities:

  • Security
    Full security is guaranteed throughout SAP information supply chain to prevent any
    kind of leak,
  • Time
    This notion is a critical factor when CFOs run the last meters of their “last mile of finance” and the app displays day-on-day KPI
    comparisons,
  • Comparability
    Enabling to see data in current/constant currency or with/without M&A effects.

Lab preview screenshots

 

SAP Mobile Financial Close includes a set of pre-built dashboard reports connected with SAP® Business Planning and Consolidation 10.0 for SAP NetWeaver – powered by SAP HANA™ and you’ll see below a series of Lab Preview screenshots taken from iPad® mobile device.

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In the above screenshot you can see  three major KPIs: revenue, net income, profit margin and return on equity (ROE). They are displayed through a comparison of Actuals, Forecast and Budget and show whether they are “greenlighted” or not. The integration with our EPM and BI stack is shown at the top of the screen (“Connection: BOE 4.0, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation for SAP NetWeaver starter kit for IFRS – powered by SAP HANA”) and the last refresh date is displayed at the bottom of the screen (“Last Refresh 11/8/12 at 5:54:04).

Below are other examples of our SAP Mobile Financial Close pre-defined reports:

USBlog04_small_screenshots.png

Pre-launch in Paris, France

 

SAP Mobile Financial Close has been pre-launched at the SAP Development Kick-Off Meeting event in Paris, France on March 26, 2013. The seventy “happy few” people who gathered in the theater that day were thrilled to see EPM powered by in-memory technology smoothly combined with business intelligence and consumed on mobile.

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Planned availability

 

SAP Mobile Financial Close is planned to be made available this quarter on iTunes and will be included in our forthcoming SAP® Financial Close and Disclosure Management rapid-deployment solution.

What’s next?

 

Stay tuned as our next blog will be focusing on the final step of the “last mile of finance” with SAP® Disclosure Management, starter kit for U.S. GAAP.

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Sincerely,

Elizabeth Milne, SAP EPM solution marketing elizabeth.milne@sap.com

Kristina Henn, SAP rapid deployment solutions kristina.henn@sap.com

Stephane Neufcourt, SAP EPM solution management stephane.neufcourt@sap.com

 

 

Sources

AIIM Research “A Sea Change in Enterprise IT”

http://www.aiim.org/futurehistory http://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/cpm-suites/

SAP “Streamlining Compliance with U.S. GAAP in Automating the Last Mile of Finance”

http://scn.sap.com/blogs/financialclose.starterkits/2013/04/03/automating-the-last-mile-of-finance-streamlining-compliance-with-us-gaap

CFO Knowledge “EPM + BI + Mobile = Instant Value for the CFO and Finance”

http://cfoknowledge.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/epm-bi-mobile-instant-value-for-the-cfo-and-finance/

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