International Conference on Financial Close and Reporting – Why Customers win with S/4HANA Cloud
Our first in-person conference on financial close and reporting ever! We started the day with two customer workshops on Financial Compliance Management in the Record-to-Report process and on how customers can benefit from transactional corporate accounting. In the afternoon Katharina Reichert, Co-Lead of Solution Management Finance and Leticia Macciardi, Chief Financial Officer SAP Iberia, opened the conference, talking about the importance of resilience for the finance department.
During the first day, our customers shared insights about their SAP S/4HANA Cloud public edition implementation projects – with a specific focus on the core finance capabilities so integral to record-to-report processes. It was impressive to see how fast these customers have adopted cloud – and a cloud mindset – although they faced some growth pains and needed to expect (and manage) the unexpected! But the benefits of running finance in a public cloud environment clearly outweigh any perceived negatives, and we would like to share some very specific experiences:
- In the past, it took a full working day to do allocations; with SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, the customer was able to do this in just 5 minutes
- SAP S/4HANA Cloud, public edition, replaced a local, outdated ERP system that was connected to 52 Excel files
- Standardized processes help to reduce the complexity of business processes – and make them easier to audit
- Better data visibility – across all functional areas – from everywhere and every device
- Regular updates add new features frequently and ensure a fast and continuous availability of new innovations
The second day started with a keynote on Sustainable Finance where customers learned about how SAP’s solutions enable financial reporting on ESG key figures – already today. During the course of the day, customers shared further insights regarding their financial close and reporting processes, partly in public cloud, but also in hybrid scenarios. The monitoring, orchestrating and steering of the entity close is just one possibility where customers benefit from public cloud solutions complementing an on premise process to improve governance and compliance, drive efficiency, and gain transparency. A streamlined financial consolidation process, based on a unified data model for entity and group close, enables companies to gain more speed, automation, and transparency in their closing process. The last mile of the financial reporting is disclosure management, where we learned a fun fact that the first published annual report in 1903 by a US steel company included even pictures of mines and freight trains. These reports have changed a lot over the past 120 years, and the process of the creation of the annual reports has been automated. But the main purpose of an annual report remains unchanged as – besides the legal aspects – it should provide transparency on the financials of a company to the capital markets and investors. Additional KPIs in the area of sustainability are becoming more relevant than ever and have to be integrated into an integrated financial report. Beside the legal obligation to publish financial reports, continuous insights are important to steer the business and react on changing conditions. Customers shared insights on how they have structured their internal “financial scorecard” to analyze eight key KPIs for the group, but also for the underlying regions. Using a standardized scorecard across the entire company empowers managers to assess business health fast and efficiently.
Running the conference in-person also gave us a lot of networking opportunities onsite in the conference area – as well as the chance to enjoy a dinner in an authentic tapas bar at a typical Spanish plaza – with old friends and new.
We would like to close with the words of Thomas Saueressig, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE, who stated at the DSAG annual user conference in October 2022: “If the exception becomes the rule, resilience is key!” The finance and risk solution portfolio provides powerful solutions to enable our customers to strengthen their resilience. We look forward to meeting our customer in 2023 at our next TAC Conference on Financial Close and Reporting.