SAP announced availability of SAP S/4HANA Finance for Group Reporting 1809 in September 2018 as their strategic consolidation solution for the SAP S/4HANA suite. As a result, further developments on Real-Time Consolidation (RTC) have been stopped with maintenance to continue until year 2022. Although the product road-map and direction from SAP are clear it’s interesting to see that a lot of customers are still looking to complement their in-flight SAP S/4HANA 1709 initiatives with RTC for a fast and more accurate close.
It is this customer interest that gives me the motivation to write this blog post and provide a high-level overview on the design and development components of RTC for SAP S/4HANA 1709.
RTC is a solution that is based on deep integration between SAP S/4HANA and BPC utilizing the powerful capabilities of the Embedded BW. One of the unique features of RTC is that it allows direct access to master and transactional data from SAP S/4HANA, processed real time in BPC for consolidation. This eliminates the need for traditional extract, transformation and load (ETL) to a dedicated consolidation application and thanks to virtualization capabilities of BW and HANA, we realize the dream of real-time reporting.
The following diagram presents the high-level design and development components for RTC, which I will reference over the rest of this blog post.
1. From an accounting perspective the starting point of on any consolidation process is the trial balance providing actual data. This is where ACODCA, the universal journal table in SAP S/4HANA comes in to picture. It contains the transactional data required for consolidation. It is a unified, persistent source of actual data for all entities/company codes that are operational on SAP S/4HANA. RTC provides flexible upload program to load transactional data for entities/company codes that are not yet live on the SAP S/4HANA system.
2. Foundation view is a HANA calculation view/HDI container view* or CDS view that acts as the basis for consolidation views to be built on. It is mainly used to project fields from the ACDOCA/P tables. It is recommended to copy the SAP provided foundation view to your own HANA package/HDI container and adjust them as per your requirements e.g. you may want to change filters on fields like ledger and company code to ensure the correct data set is used. (Note, also copy the RTC_C_CONS_ACCT_M view to our HANA package/HDI container as it provides the FS items mapping).
3. Although this blog post doesn’t intend to explain the detailed RTC configuration steps, generating consolidation views via RTCMD transaction code is an important step to mention as it creates the auto-generated CDS views (consumed by SAP S/4HANA e.g. when performing currency translation in transaction system etc) and HANA views (e.g. supply data to BPC consolidation engine).
4. RTC Virtual provider is used to access live actual data from the RTC_C_<client><model>_BPCUNION view (auto-generated union view). This union view is a HANA calculation view that merges all journal data from both foundation views and table ACDOCC to provide a union of all BPC consolidation base views, and therefore represents a complete data set of the consolidation model. The virtual provider also serves to write the data back to the consolidation journal (ACDOCC) via the assignment of the write back class, CL_RTC_ACDOCC_IPOV_WRITABLE. It is at this stage of RTC modelling that we create the consolidation model and each characteristic or key figure is mapped to the corresponding field in the underlying SAP HANA information model.
5. ACDOCC is the consolidation journal which has a similar set of fields and append structure as ACDCOA, but its purpose being to persist the consolidated data from BPC and to be the repository for non- SAP S/4HANA data loaded via the flexible upload program. Also, journal entries and consolidation monitor tasks (such as balance carry forward, currency translation, eliminations etc) write back to the ACDOCC table.
6. The RTC composite provider only has one underlying info-provider which is the virtual provider and includes all its fields. It provides the flexibility to join data from other BW cubes, for e.g. historical or legacy data.
7. The Ownership and Rates cube provide the group/entity structure for consolidation and exchange rates information to support currency translations in BPC. They are referenced later to create the respective BPC models required for consolidation.
8. RTC aggregation level is the structure that forms the base for all consolidation functions and provides the write-back capability of BW planning functions (we can create planning functions to execute some consolidation tasks). It is created even if the underlying mapping to the provider is 1:1 and used for the development of BW queries and reporting for RTC. For e.g. rates aggregation level is used to create input-enabled BW query for exchange rates submission.
9. As part of BPC modelling the consolidation, ownership and rates models are created by referencing their respective info-providers from Embedded BW. This is followed by a mapping of the dimensions and attributes to their underlying fields from HANA views, so that each info-provider in the model is processed. The core consolidation logic including methods, multipliers and business rules (eliminations, currency translations & balance carry forward etc) are also defined in the BPC application. Although the business rules concept in RTC is like BPC (Standard version) it is important to note that as RTC is based on BPC Embedded technology it has been configured to deal with periodic data.
10. RTC entails 3-tier modelling across SAP S/4HANA, BW and BPC. One of the last steps in that modelling process is to activate the RTC model to reinforce the alignment between the various components and objects. This activation also generates a BRF+ application which is basically a container of rule relevant context and artifacts (e.g. rule objects) and is utilized by RTC for development of validation rules to ensure financial integrity of your data. Validation rules can be created using the Define Validation Rules Fiori app.
To summarize, RTC when first introduced with SAP S/4HANA 1610 helped to further the vision of continuous accounting and provided a solution to unify local accounting with group close. Its capabilities were further enhanced with SAP S/4HANA 1709 release and now SAP has evolved the real time consolidation concept to develop a completely SAP S/4HANA centric consolidation solution with the launch of Group Reporting for SAP S/4HANA 1809.
* With SAP S/4HANA 1709 FSP02, you can decide to still stay with HANA repository views, however if you are in releases later than (or equal) SAP S/4HANA 1709 FSP03, then using HDI is mandatory for Real-time Consolidation. Please see Note 2643245 for more details.