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Author's profile photo Oliver Schoenborn

The Yellow Brick Road to S/4HANA Finance


Every journey has a purpose. And even a Journey of a thousand miles – as Chinese philosopher Laozi stated more than 2000 years ago –, starts with a single step. Some journeys are long with many winding turns, some are even dangerous. Others are fairly easy and require almost no time at all. Some journeys are a path to freedom, to health, to wisdom or to prosperity, others just to the store around the corner. Sometimes a journey ends in a big revelation, sometimes what is found differs greatly from what was set out to find.

In the classic children’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum, four travelers start a journey for their most precious desires – the tin woodman (who is looking for a heart), the cowardly lion (who desires courage), the scarecrow (in need for a brain) and the protagonist Dorothy – who just wants to find her way back home.

After an eventful trip down the yellow brick road they get to Oz, where they hope to get everything they want – but it turns out that they didn’t need it, they’ve had all of that the entire time without even realizing it. The lion never had been cowardly but the most courageous of his kind. The Scarecrow was among the smartest travelers and the tin woodman had had a big heart the entire way. And because they possessed those qualities all along they succeeded in the way they did. Probably they even needed all of those qualities – the courage, the heart, intelligence and the will to get somewhere – just to initially decide to start their journey.

For a lot of our finance customers, the initial problem is quite similar. Even though they know that the journey is worth taking and that there are huge benefits waiting for them at the finish line, the journey itself remains scary. Many customers at this point are beginning to understand the impact and the benefits of real-time information. They appreciate the ability to slice and dice information as they want, the possibility to make changes and instantly seeing those being reflected in the end result. Orchestrating an analysis with intuitive drag and drop techniques, with instant results allowing them too see things from a new perspective. And all of that without bothering IT and letting them put everything together in a report. Some customers are literally amazed by the improvements we have made, but they’re still held back by the journey itself. They ask themselves questions like: How am I even going to get there? How long is it going to take? How much is it going to cost?

So even though they are aware of how they could leverage real-time information and how this is game changing for their daily business, there is a huge gap between them and S/4HANA. To some customers, the road seems endless, one yellow brick after another. And the cold hard truth is –  of course it is long and not always easy, no question about that.

Until that moment in a customer meeting, it’s mostly about business benefits, Real-Time reports, user interfaces etc. But once the conversation goes beyond the wow factor and things get a little more real – there is a risk of losing the customer in fear of a huge project that will possibly diminish their productivity for months and months to come. And if that happens, there is nothing more to be gained from that customer meeting.

But there is a way out. Because there is a way of giving the customer S/4HANA Finance beneftis from day one. With “central finance” the customer can be accompanied on his journey by the heart, brain and bravery of HANA his entire way. While data of legacy systems is replicated in a central S/4HANA Instance, people can still work in their legacy systems on a transactional level – while from above, others can already benefit from real-time information in driving reports or simulations. While this is not a long-term solution and in the end all processes will be migrated, the customer has the benefits instantly. Also watch this comprehensive Video for a short explanation:

A presales colleague from Australia recently shared with me that – if and when the conversation with his customers gets to that point, to these somewhat frightening questions like “how long is this going to take” – he does not leave the table without telling them about “central finance” and it gets them pretty excited. Recently, in a proof of concept they did for an Australian bank, they showed that this scenario was possible even for the live replication of three legacy systems. So not only is the journey for S/4HANA Finance worth taking, customers can get the benefits of HANA to guide them on their way. Maybe this changes the journey itself for some customers, maybe this is what guarantees success for others. For some of them it could even be the heart, brains and bravery they need to decide to start their journey to S/4HANA in the first place.

But what about those of us who don’t want all of that? Some people neither want a new heart or a brain, nor bravery. Some just want to find their way back home.

Well, that’s okay as well. Real-time information might just be what they need to head home early.

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      Author's profile photo Uwe Erdtmann
      Uwe Erdtmann

      Excellent summary of the journey to S/4HANA Finance