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Author's profile photo Sonal Gupta

How can finance become a strategic partner?

In the current connected world, long standing companies wishing to reinvent themselves with new business models find themselves at a disadvantage because of disconnected processes and legacy technologies. Enterprises can no longer wait until the end of the month to see results, or for the annual budget cycle to make investment . Finance is at the heart of any digital business, but finance processes and technology platforms that have been utilized in the last 20 years are simply not agile enough for the digital economy.  A digital approach enables finance organizations to re-imagine ways to achieve their CFOs’ key priorities and make the finance organization a trusted strategic partner, thereby driving business performance and defining new corporate strategies as opposed to simply fulfilling a transactional function.

SAP S/4HANA® helps organizations do just that. It simplifies the core of finance through a single source of the truth. All transactional and planning data is stored one time only, in one place only – the universal journal – so there is no more reconciliation, no more replication, no more aggregation. This allows for a whole new level of visibility, automation, and operational efficiency across finance and the enterprise.

The power of in-memory computing allows finance to perform in real time – with no more batch jobs, no more rigid system hierarchies, and no more waiting for IT to deliver your reports. Instead, a single system provides immediate visibility to all transactions and allows users to perform dynamic and personalized analysis straight from the transactional data.

SAP S/4HANA brings business processes and business intelligence together into a single, smooth, digital motion across key finance areas. Let’s examine a few areas how Finance can become more strategic to your business:

Agile: Foundation for “soft close”

There is one universal journal entry for general ledger, controlling, asset accounting, and material management items, which paves the way for continuous intercompany reconciliation. The solution provides instant profit and loss insights and detailed reporting on the fly. Multiple batch run dependencies that cause bottlenecks and delay downstream closing activities are eliminated.





Dynamic planning and analysis

Real-time “what if” analysis and simulations are enabled to model and test the impact of changes to profitability before committing to plans like restructuring, M&A, and business model innovation. SAP S/4HANA provides a single consolidated view, with a simplified user experience of all planning and forecasting information.



“Lights-out” finance

Radical automation, regulation, and embedded compliance – the time has come for “lights-out” finance. Business networks, coupled with faster deployment models in the cloud, are allowing for dramatic leaps forward in process automation. The rewards are nimbler organizations and access to information for timely decision making. For instance, SAP S/4HANA provides a native connection to the Ariba® Network so that companies and their suppliers can have a mutually beneficial relationship with end-to-end automated invoice, vendor, and supplier management.

Predictive and simplified treasury

SAP S/4HANA enables real-time integrated liquidity management, including cash flow analysis and embedded liquidity planning capabilities. Use of prediction, simulation, and analysis functionality supports an informed and automated cash forecasting process. A single source of the truth provides higher transparency on financial exposure. The solution also simplifies and automates bank reconciliations and workflows through centralized bank account management.

We have published a whitepaper “Transform Finance with SAP S/4HANA” to better articulate the value of the finance function on SAP S/4HANA, plus cloud and finance line-of-business (LoB) solutions. This paper provides details of the value of moving from an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application on a traditional database to SAP S/4HANA and cloud and LoB solutions. This comparison reinforces the fact that SAP S/4HANA provides reengineered and simplified business processes that can yield significant benefits, transforming the execution from multistep, batch-driven processes with latency in terms of key performance indicators, to real-time processes with actionable insights.

The detailed content in the paper articulates the  primary capabilities for the finance LoB:

  • Pain points – Major customer business and IT challenges
  • Current state with ERP on a traditional database – ERP capabilities available on a traditional database
  • SAP S/4HANA capabilities – Capabilities shipped with the latest release of SAP S/4HANA
  • Cloud and LoB extension enhancements – All other solutions that can be integrated with SAP S/4HANA to provide business value. For example, SAP S/4HANA and the SAP Integrated Business Planning solution or SAP Fraud Management solution
  • 2017 planned innovations – New functionality or integration possibilities planned for the 2017 release of SAP S/4HANA
  • Business benefits – Key value drivers that are impacted with the SAP S/4HANA shipment and cloud and finance LoB capabilities

Interested in the proof points? There are numerous   customer references with benefits achieved from SAP S/4HANA Enterprise Management and SAP S/4HANA Finance LoB and cloud solution implementations, including:

New York Life turned to SAP S/4HANA for an enterprise-wide financial transformation and enhance its overall business strategy. By using the solution, New York Life gained a single source of the truth for delivery of accurate, real-time insights. The company expects to provide financial leadership to facilitate vital strategic business direction, including M&A, financing, and long-term capital market strategies that support performance along with rapid innovation.

Airbus DS Optronics migrated to SAP S/4HANA to accelerate reporting and digitize finance processes. This resulted in 3-4x faster financial closing processes with now only 1.5 days needed to close the monthly books and 4 days to close the annual books. The company also gained real-time visibility into all major key metrics, sales forecasts, and project cash flows.

Use SAP’s journey map for SAP S/4HANA Finance to start on the path to making your finance organization a truly strategic partner.

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