The SAP Finance Excellence Forum brought together over 160 SAP customers, partners and employees for 2 days in October.    Informative sessions covered thought leadership topics, SAP’s new innovations in finance, customer stories, partner solutions and solution deep dives.  There was also a lot of opportunity for networking and detailed discussions with solution experts. 

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Lisa Hershman gave an inspiring keynote around process innovation.  She had great examples from all industries on transforming how work gets done. The conclusion was that this will need a fundamental new way of thinking, as well as how to use technology.  Thack Brown, GM for SAP Finance LOB globally, expanded on that theme. He highlighted how important it is for finance organizations to be ready for the impact of new digital business models. Thack shared how SAP S/4HANA Finance, is designed to help customers address these challenges.  Arlen Shenkman, North America SAP CFO then joined Thack on stage to discuss how SAP is using and benefitting from S/4HANA Finance.  Arlen shared the benefits of having instant instant and flexible reporting during the quarter close.  Arlen noted “Understanding what is happening in your business and being able to make decision is critical”.

Customers are also adopting S/4HANA Finance and seeing benefits. Executives from S/4HANA Finance customers came on stage to share their experiences.  New York Life said S/4HANA Finance helps change the conversation, allowing the finance function to add more value to the business.  Florida Crystals, the first customer live on S/4HANA, said that despite the tight timeline they implemented SAP S/4HANA in under 8 weeks. They were already on Business Suite on HANA in the cloud, but that is still an impressive implementation and project timeline.  GE, shared their proof of concept on S/4HANA Finance and how they intend to move forward. 

The second day, featured sessions on how to approach creating a business case and a implementation project for S/4HANA Finance.   Yet, the highlight of the day were the detailed break-out sessions. The break outs brought together customers and experts for more detailed discussions. The S/4HANA Finance and Central Finance break-outs were the most popular. Other sessions included revenue recognition, shared services, business planning and product lifecycle costing.  The day wrapped up with customer presentations. Dow Chemicals highlighted their transformation project for the financial close. Disney shared their approach, strategy and tips and tricks for finance modernization. ServiceNow discussed how they are using SAP’s new revenue recognition and accounting engine..   Finally Deloitte talked about their own value driven transformation journey which is powered by SAP. They were all great sessions which showed the breadth of projects of SAP customers.

During the evening networking session, there was wine tasting from Rioja.  The sommelier was knowledgeable, the wine delicious and I left with a new found appreciation for wine from that region.

The forum gave finance professionals the opportunity to hear about the new innovations in SAP S/4HANA Finance from SAP. They could also listen to customer implementation experiences and discuss topics in more detail with solution experts.  Customers I spoke to were interested in the opportunities that SAP S/4HANA Finance will open up especially for detailed flexible reporting.  Many customers were learning about new SAP S/4HANA Finance for the first time and this forum gave them a great start.

The 2016 SAP Finance Excellence Forum will be held on October 11 and 12th, mark your calendars we hope to see you there!

For more information visit: www.sap.com/finance

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