Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign
I’m a product manager for SAP Business ByDesign with focus on financials and would like to share my point of view how these new enhancements introduced in release 2205 complement the existing capabilities of planning and encumbrances. SAP Business ByDesign has been extended to give customers additional means to actively control spending behavior for cost centers with cost collector projects and direct cost projects. I have been happy about the insights that are captured in our systems – but kept advocating to put means into place to help the CFO to put a tighter spending regime into place, if required. To know after the fact that budget has been exceeded is, in many cases, too late or not acceptable.
I think it would be very beneficial for the community not just to highlight the new capabilities but to put them into an end-to-end context and to understand how they build on top or relate to each other. Therefore, I created a series of related blog posts including the activities to set the scenario up and introduce it into existing running processes. Finally, I would like to stress the areas of openness (addressed especially to partners) and illustrate what they are intended for. It had been crucial for the SAP team in the design phase to keep openness in mind to allow partners with their respective customers to enhance and add on top of the standard capabilities.
Active budget control – main enhancements
The following diagram illustrates the key elements being additionally introduced or enhanced
- Introduction of a budget category
- Capability to release portions of the planned yearly budget to be spent
- Execute budget check at release, approval or change of purchase order against the available budget at the granularity of cost center, budget category, year to period (YTP) of available budget
- Execute budget against direct cost project available budget compared based on the project cost estimate
- Budget check available for invoices without purchase order reference
- Activation of budget check for procurement on cost center level
- Available budget for cost centers = YTP released budget – (Actuals complete year + Encumbrances) using default set of books and default released version
- New reports and enhanced analytics for budget monitoring
Cost Centers – Budget Monitoring
Projects – Budget Monitoring
- Changes to plan data entry and new released budget
- Journal entry voucher with budget category
- Recurring Journal entry voucher with budget category
- Journal entry lines with automatic population of budget category from preceding documents
- Partner openness for process enhancements
Series of related blog posts
In this blog post you have access to detailed blog posts on specific topics relevant for the overall process. These also cover aspects like scoping, configuration but also required process steps to benefit from active budget control from an end-to-end perspective.
The related blog posts that explain the entire process in more detail can be accessed here:
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Budget Category
Define budget categories and budget category derivation
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Financial Planning / Revenue and Expenses
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Budget Release
Release during course of the year portions of planned budget
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Purchase Order Encumbrances
Importance of encumbrances in the budget check scenario
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Budget Check for Cost Centers and Projects
Budget check at purchase order release, approval, change and for manual supplier invoice
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Encumbrance Balance Carry Forward
Part of the year end closing activities (added in release 2208)
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Scenario Introduction Guidance
Proposal for introducing the active budget control in a running system
- Active Budget Control in SAP Business ByDesign – Scenario Extensibility
Available interfaces for partners to extend the scenario for planning, budget release, budget category derivation and budget check itself.
The process of active budget control involves multiple personas and different activities at different points in time. The personas are:
- Financial or cost accountant / CFO
- Manager with cost center responsibility and assigned direct cost or cost collector projects for overhead spending
- Procurement department
- (Probably employees with transaction having cost impact – using partner extensions)
The basic concept is simple and can be summarized in a few sentences:
- The yearly budget (plan) is approved
- Step-by-step budget is released to be spent
- At purchase order creation (or manual supplier invoice creation without reference), the available budget is checked and, in case it would be exceeded, creation of the purchase order is not possible and blocked
- The available budget for cost centers and cost collector projects is determined by the released budget reduced by actuals and reduced (optionally) by encumbrances at the granularity of budget categories
- For direct cost projects the total project cost estimate on project task level is the basis for budget comparison. *
(*in public sector edition for direct cost projects a financial planning and release budget at the granularity of budget category are required)
- Partners can extend the capabilities at multiple points
The more extended version of the story could be:
As part of fiscal year preparation, the approved yearly budget plan version for cost centers for the default set of books is finally set in December for next year. In addition, the customer now must decide for example on a periodic or quarterly basis which portion and which budget categories of the planned yearly budget should be released for spending by the cost centers. This capability to periodically release only a portion of the budget gives the CFO better control on the budget spending over the duration of a fiscal year and stop “burning nearly all yearly budget in the first 2 quarters”.
We all know, that no plan or released budget is carved into stone. We all encountered these situations. The business environment might change, reorganizations might be required, unexpected situations might occur. So cost accountants do and must have the capability to:
- Shift released budgets between cost centers or budget categories
- Adjust released budget by increasing or decreasing it. Checks are implemented that the sum of the released budget does not exceed the year total of the default agreed plan (at a granularity of cost center and budget category).
- If required, even the yearly plan can be adjusted and changed according to the business needs.
- Customer can decide that released budget is allowed to exceed planned budget
Now that planning is in place and a portion of budget is released there is a key question: “How does all this relate to ‘active’ budget control?”
Especially for spending caused by procurement on cost centers, direct cost and cost collector projects that are directly subject to influence, a budget check is now available. It checks at the point in time of purchase order release, approval or change after release the available budget. This enhancement of a budget check is also implemented for the supplier invoice without a reference to a purchase order. It will check the anticipated to be spent amount on the purchase order against the respective available budgets. If the amount in the purchase order (item) exceeds the available budget, the purchase order cannot be released. There is a VETO! But what is available budget?
- On the purchase order (PO) the items with reference to cost centres and budget categories are summarized.
- At this point the net amounts (including non-deductible taxes) in the purchase order (converted into company currency) are checked against available budget BEFORE the PO can be released or approved.
- The available budget is computed:
Cost centers und cost collector projects on the combination of cost center and budget category as: Released budget YTP – (Actuals + Encumbrances)
Direct cost project: Project task cost estimate – (Actuals + Encumbrance)
- Currently encumbrances include the prior created purchase order encumbrances from other purchase orders affecting the same cost center and budget category. If these POs are invoiced or a goods receipt is posted the incurred encumbrance is automatically decreased or finally cancelled.
- In case the required amount exceeds the available budget, the purchase order cannot be released. Active steps by the procurement department to resolve the conflict must be taken before the PO can be released.
Naturally, the cost accountants and CFO also do have plenty of other means at hand to monitor or to be alerted the ongoing activities. Variances might occur at times of goods and service acknowledgement. Deviation also might occur in the supplier invoice processing or by currency exchange rate effects. In addition, the controls in supplier invoice processing also have strong elements of enforcing tight controls. But also, the flexibility in analytics encourage to build specific dashboards, KPIs, reports and customer defined measures monitoring on critical variances from different sources depending on your industry or requirements. These capabilities will not be portrayed in this blog post series.
Extensibility for partners
I encourage partners to extend the existing planning, release and budget check solutions based on their customer feedback. Embedding budget check in more transactions could be one option. Another touchpoint could be to build advanced request scenarios for budget adjustment requests building defined constraints into these requests with their customers. For this purpose, we have compiled the following set of blogs focusing on extensibility and openness in the context of active budget control:
- Budget Check (API)
- Budget Category Enhancement during Journal Entry Creation (BADI)
- Budget Released and Change Budget Released (Webservice)
- Plan Budget and Change Plan Budget (Webservice)
Is procurement the only source that influences the overhead budget? Absolutely not. However, implementing budget check for every kind of transaction seemed also not to be the right approach since it might completely block the processing of the transactions in certain environments. One of these examples is the enhancement of the journal entry voucher with a budget category. SAP has decided by purpose not to implement a budget check on the creation of the journal entry voucher because many customers ask for an empowered cost accountant to post corrections or other required financial adjustments with this means. With an optional 4 eyes principal in place, SAP decided against a standard budget check. Partners though can on request of their respective customers ‘plug-in’ a budget check utilizing the budget check API and surround it by the required set of controls or customizing. Similar enhancements might be specifically requested for expense reports or other transactions.
It has become clear that the additionally introduced capabilities give customers better means to control spending behavior in the overhead cost area. Moreover, it is obvious that a high degree of flexibility and customer enhancements is key to cover many different scenarios and control systems potentially required. In the detailed blogs I touch on the main required or optional elements, the existing and the newly introduced ones, and share my view on the topic to allow customers and partners to make an informed decision whether, when and in which steps to introduce the processes along active budget control.
I hope you got some benefit out of this series of blog posts. Share your thoughts or experiences.
See also available help at help.sap.com for this topic