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As organisations continue to convert their SAP ERP systems to S/4HANA, one area that pops up as a roadmap item is how to handle requirements for Planning and Financial Consolidation.

In some cases, this provides an opportunity to simplify the landscape and in others prompts a review of what organisations require from a planning solution and what they require from a financial consolidation tool. These discussions are made more confusing for SAP customers, because SAP provide a number of different solutions that cover the topics of planning and consolidation, and at first glance it can be difficult to understand which should be used. The solutions that SAP offers (that I am aware of) are :-

Figure 1 – S/4HANA Consolidation Overview Fiori App

Which solution you adopt will depend upon the level of complexity of your planning and consolidation requirements. I would recommend that each requirement is considered separately as they will potentially have different stakeholders who will value different things about the solutions. Having considered them independently, you can then merge the results to see if you can get some economies of scale by utilising one solution for both requirements.

 

Planning

If we first consider the planning requirements there are 2 dimensions of complexity to consider. The first being how complex is the planning process in terms of workflow steps and the complexity of the calculations and simulation needs. The second dimension is how sophisticated the analytics/reporting requirements are – do we need basic tabular financial reports or dashboard / stories for instance.

As a rule of thumb, the more complex the planning processes, the more likely that SAP BPC will be the right fit. The more complex the reporting requirements are, the greater chance that SAP Analytics Cloud will be the right fit. Where both dimensions are complex a “Hybrid” approach might make sense to get the best from both. The figure below shows this in a picture.

Figure 2 : Planning Decision Matrix

Consolidation

For consolidation, we can consider the same 2 dimensions, but from a financial consolidation perspective. How complex is the legal consolidation process and does it need data from SAP and non-SAP systems. How deep do the reporting and simulation capabilities need to be, from simple reports to complex simulation scenarios / interactive dashboards.

In a similar way to planning, the more complex the consolidation process is the more likely that SAP BPC will fit the bill. For less complex scenarios where the data required for the consolidation is in the S/4HANA system – the more likely it is that S/4HANA Consolidation will meet your requirements. For the reporting dimension, the arguments are much the same as for planning, but your organisation’s requirements may be different as they could be driven by different stakeholders. The figure below shows this in a picture.

Figure 3 : Consolidation Decision Matrix

Conclusions

So best case in terms of simplification, could be that you can just use the native features of S/4HANA for both Consolidation and Planning. This is likely to work for smaller organisations, who are not geographically distributed and have a low complexity of requirements.

For many organisation S/4HANA alone isn’t going to be enough and they will need to use SAP Analytics Cloud for capturing the planning input and reporting the results of both planning and consolidation activities.

For organisations that have even more complexity in either the planning or consolidation space, it will be necessary to consider SAP BPC on BW/4HANA. I would expect that in most of these scenarios, the reporting requirements are also going to be complex, so SAP Analytics Cloud will also be needed, as shown in the picture below

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