SAP S/4HANA Cloud for advanced financial closing: Re-Platforming announcement and history
Dear Finance Experts,
continuing the execution of the intelligent finance strategy, SAP has released the next generation financial close orchestration solution SAP S/4HANA Cloud for advanced financial closing (AFC) on December 16th, 2020.
This is SAP’s go-to strategic solution for entity close management and orchestration – supporting the planning, execution, monitoring and analysis of period-end closing tasks for all entities (i.e. typically the headquarters & all subsidiaries) of a corporation.
AFC is a standalone application powered by the SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) and can be seamlessly integrated in heterogeneous systems landscapes to control closing tasks as a unified hub in distributed financial backend systems.
If you are new to this topic and you first want to understand the scope, functionality and benefits of AFC, I recommend you to start your learning journey with the following resources:
- Read the Solution Brief
- Read the Introduction Blog by Katharina Reichert
- Watch this Video by Elizabeth Milne
In the following, I want to give you an overview of the rich history and heritage of AFC and explain, why the release as a standalone application on the SAP BTP allows a simplified deployment.
History of SAP Financial Close Orchestration Solutions
SAP has been developing financial close orchestration solutions for more than 20 years. Around the year 2000, many customers used the generic automation functionalities of the Schedule Manager to plan, monitor and optimize the execution of programs and reports via background jobs that are run as part of the period-end close process. SAP then decided to tailor this generic automation framework to meed the specific needs of the financial close. This was the hour of birth of the Closing cockpit (Cc). Later, this was further developed and extended, which led to a new product name (SAP Financial Closing cockpit – FCc) and it was finally released as part of the SAP S/4HANA offering in 2017. Until today, these solutions were successfully implemented and leveraged by thousands of SAP customers across the globe to optimize their financial close processes.
As every enterprise in each industry and region can benefit a lot from a more streamlined, more accurate and faster close process and due to the rise of intelligent technologies, SAP released in 2018 the next-generation and modern financial task list management solution: SAP S/4HANA Cloud for advanced financial closing. This was developed by the same team of architects and experts like FCc, but it was fully based on the SAP Fiori UX and brought lots of new functionalities. Though, it could only be used by customers that already had an SAP S/4HANA Cloud system up and running, because it was part of the core cloud ERP system stack (Scope Item 2V8).
As of today, AFC can be deployed as a standalone application powered by the SAP BTP, which makes the consumption and deployment more light-weight and leaner. AFC can now be implemented without the technical requirement to have an SAP S/4HANA Cloud system up and running – although the number of cloud ERP customers is growing rapidly here, not all of them are there yet. In other words, also SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA customers can leverage AFC easily to steer and monitor their closing processes across multiple systems and achieve a much higher level of quality, transparency and speed in the close process.
Connectivity and Integration Scenarios
SAP provides out-of-the-box connectivity for AFC with the following financial backend systems:
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud
- SAP S/4HANA 2020 and all following releases
- SAP S/4HANA 1909 FPS02 and higher
- SAP S/4HANA 1809 SPS04 and higher
- SAP ERP 6.0, enhancement package 4 and higher
If you want to connect AFC with either SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA On Premise systems, a Cloud Connector is required. In case you want to connect AFC with an SAP ECC System, additionally an integration component needs to be installed there.
I don’t want to finish this blog without an appetizer and therefore, I want to highlight with the below screenshot, that AFC provides beautiful embedded monitoring and analytical capabilities that allow you to explore multiple intuitive process-related KPIs such as the completion rate of the financial close per Company Code, Country or Fiscal Period and seamlessly drill down from those metrics into single tasks to take direct action. This allows you to immediately identify bottlenecks, critical issues and delays and therefore ensure that the financial results can be delivered faster with less effort, more accurately and reliably.
If you want to learn more about SAP S/4HANA Cloud for advanced financial closing, stay tuned. There are many innovations to come and AFC will be one of the centerpieces for SAP customers to achieve an intelligent and optimized financial close.
Thank you for taking the time and reading this blog post.
For more information on SAP S/4HANA Cloud, check out the following links:
- SAP Community Page for Advanced Financial Closing: here
- SAP Help Portal for AFC: here
- AFC in the SAP Roadmap Explorer: here
- SAP.com page about AFC: here