Dear Finance Experts,
with the latest incremental release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud for advanced financial closing (AFC) on May 15th, 2021, the new feature of custom fields for reporting was introduced.
Background of this feature
Just a few weeks ago, the requirements to have additional reporting flexibility on financial close key figures such as the closing progress by business process or the structuring into shared services and local activities were raised by key AFC customers. The design, refinement and development of the custom fields feature to help customers gain a better insight into their closing structures was executed in a short timeframe. By leveraging the continuous release paradigm, the AFC team was able to ship this functionality quickly and customers can now directly benefit from it. In the following blog, I want to guide you through the main pillars of this new feature, including the maintenance of the custom field values and their use for a more flexible reporting in the different apps of AFC.
“Define Closing Tasks” App
To provide more flexibility in terms of reporting by multiple dimensions for key financial close metrics, we introduced three custom fields in AFC. These fields are string fields with a length of 255 characters. They can be filled with whatever information is needed as a dimension in reporting. The maintenance of the custom field values is done in the „Define Closing Tasks” application in templates and task lists – both on folder and task level. AFC is a close orchestration tool that serves large enterprises and is built for scalability to manage large complex processes. Therefore, we introduced multiple smart features that allow an easy and quick maintenance of the custom field values.
The maintenance of custom field values on folders can be done via the detail view for each folder.
The same applies for the task level.
As a faster alternative, it is also possible to maintain custom field values on multiple several folders or tasks, using the mass maintenance functionality. This can be done by selecting the corresponding folders or tasks and then clicking on the “Change” button. After that, a popup will appear, where it is possible to click on the action “Change Custom Fields“.
After clicking on “Change Custom Fields” the following dialog will occur:
Here, the fields can be filled and the input will be applied to the selected folders and tasks. This is the fastest way to fill multiple folders and tasks with custom field values at once.
This is not all – there is even a smarter and easier way to fill custom field values. Not all folders or tasks need to be filled through a manual process step. During the generation of a task list from a template, the custom fields of a folder are pushed to the underlying folders and tasks. For example, the custom fields of a parent folder are inherited down to the underlying level, if the underlying level has no custom field values maintained.
“Process Closing Tasks” App
After the generation of the task list, the custom field values are also visible in the app “Process Closing Tasks”.
The custom fields are usually not displayed on start in the list view. It is possible to display the corresponding columns with the settings gear and save the new table view as a variant:
On the detail screen of a single task, the custom fields are displayed by default.
“Closing Task Completion” App
Now we move to the most useful part of this new feature. In the reporting app “Closing Task Completion” it is now possible to display the custom fields and use them in combination with all multidimensional filter options which are available.
To display the custom fields, the settings gear has to be used again. There is one for the filter area at the top of the analytical list page:
One for the bar chart:
And one for the table at the bottom:
Finally, AFC also allows to flexibly change the UI by renaming, hiding, or re-arranging attributes and fields in all its applications. This generic feature is called “UI Adaptation” and it can be leveraged for example to rename the three custom fields in AFC. Instead of Custom Field 1-3, you could call them “Business Process”, “Business Process Sub Area” and “Internal Control Activity” as shown in the screenshot below. This helps the end users to easier understand the purpose of the reporting attributes and use them more intuitively for deeper analysis on closing KPIs.
With these new flexible custom field feature, customers can now gain even more transparency and efficiency through the ability to further structure and analyse their closing business process in AFC. They can report closing key figures such as the closing progress, the number of errors, possible delays, and responsibilities by freely definable attributes and structuring characteristics.
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
Follow us via @SAP and #AdvancedFinancialClosing, or myself via Emanuel Bahr