SAP S/4HANA update for 2023 – Increase automation and compliance of your financial close with Advanced Financial Closing
“Closing the books” is the priority one for Accounting and Finance. Typically, at the end of each period, professionals from the staff accountant to the CFO perform activities and review outputs to ensure the timely and accurate reporting of financial information. These consists of many unique and often dependent tasks, making ‘automation’ and ‘compliance’ amongst the top needs of finance departments.
Are you also one of the many finance experts looking for opportunities to optimize your financial close?
Don’t wait any further and kick-start your journey with Advanced Financial Closing, SAP’s strategic solution to plan, orchestrate, automate and monitor your financial closing. And you can take advantage of the latest accounting innovations in SAP S/4HANA Cloud to maximize the level of automation.
Your business users can take control and manage your close centrally without relying on IT departments, and the required tasks can be automatically executed in the system of record (SAP S/4HANA Cloud as an example) where the data are without creating any redundancy or reconciliation need.
And, if you are not yet using SAP S/4HANA Cloud, you can still leverage Advanced Financial Closing to improve governance and automation of your close – even with SAP ERP! Or, if you have a distributed landscape, you can also leverage it as central closing hub enabling tasks orchestration and monitoring across multiple systems to increase controls and transparency.
Since last year, SAP released more than 80 innovations and improvements to help you to increase automation and compliance of your financial close processes. While you can find the top highlights in this blog, you can check the What’s New documentation to review the full list.
Innovations are released monthly, you can review the details in the What’s New twelve days prior release and, as of September 2023, you also have a chance to try them first-hand in your test environment nine days before the production upgrade (the Friday one week before release to the production tenant).
With continuous innovations, you can constantly improve your financial close, month after month!
Automated supervision of closing tasks with account balance validation
The era of manual validations of account balances is over, SAP S/4HANA Cloud (and all deployments) can check account balances automatically and you can focus on reviewing discrepancies if any.
With this game-changer innovation, you can easily define account balance validation rules within your SAP S/4HANA Cloud and schedule the execution with Advanced Financial Closing, either based on fixed date/time or based on a certain status of predecessor tasks.
By adding these validations to your closing task list, you gain further control and improve the quality of your close – without adding extra manual tasks to your close. You no longer need to trade-off risk and effort, you can embed any type of validation and the system would just run automatically for you. These, for example, can include:
- Preventive validations prior to a closing task to avoid execution errors in a closing job (for example, you can check that asset balances are greater than zero or no production costs are posted to overhead cost objects)
- Milestone validations (for example, you can analyse GL variances above a predefined threshold)
- Validations after certain closing tasks are performed (for example, you can verify that all projects have been settled or zero-balance GL accounts are down to zero).
Fully-automated account balance validations available from SAP S/4HANA Cloud 2023 release add a new level of AUTOMATION and CONTROL to the close – while bringing in the finance experts “only” if there’s actually work for them to do!
Automated intercompany matching and reconciliation
This is another innovation that goes hand-in-hand with SAP S/4HANA Cloud. Within your system of record, you can define rules to automatically match and reconcile your intercompany transactions (this is not new with 2023 release!), and you can now leverage Advanced Financial Closing to orchestrate within your close. With predefined task dependencies and automated notifications, you can enforce the right sequence of tasks and accelerate subsequent steps upon successful matching of all your intercompany transactions.
Similarly to the account balance validations, you can have your matching run executed automatically either based on a fixed date/time or a specific status of predecessor tasks and, upon completion, your experts are promptly notified they can start their subsequent tasks. With one click, your experts can navigate from their mailbox to Advanced Financial Closing and SAP S/4HANA Cloud to reconcile and assign any remaining item, with full visibility of the latest status!
Automated execution of closing tasks with SAP Build Process Automation
The financial close includes a lot of unique tasks, many of them still executed manually. These typically need to be repeated each period (month, quarter or year) so they are a perfect fit for automation via Robotic Process Automation.
With the latest integration between SAP Build Process Automation and Advanced Financial Closing, you can now automate any task, provide full visibility of completion status and trigger notifications to prompt actions if any failure occurs.
Some examples of tasks that could be considered are the reconciliations between systems for distributed landscapes, import of data from other systems, and the execution of steps in SAP S/4HANA Cloud that can’t be scheduled via job. This is, of course, not a comprehensive list, but rather some examples to get inspired!
Improved job scheduling: remote processing user & time-related dependencies
Many closing tasks are typically automated leveraging background jobs in SAP S/4HANA Cloud. These can now be executed leveraging a dedicated user maintained in the task details as ‘Remote Processing User’. This, for example, can be a technical user simplifying maintenance of authorizations in your connected systems. And, in addition, you gain full transparency of jobs scheduled on behalf of other users.
A well-defined network of tasks is the fundamental start for optimizing the close and gaining control over the end-to-end process. While this has been possible for a long time by defining process-related dependencies, you now can leverage time-related dependencies to avoid unnecessary delays and further speed-up your close. You can use this new type of dependency for example for job chains or when you have two background jobs consuming a lot of system resources in your SAP S/4HANA Cloud. In such case, you don’t want them to run in parallel, but, of course, there are no dependencies on the actual results. This means that – although the task must already be completed – you can start the successor even if a task still has errors or a missing approval, without any delay!
Enhanced closing structure maintenance: folders copy and new status ‘obsolete’ for released task lists
To further streamline the maintenance of your closing structure, you now can copy folders and all closing tasks underneath across entities. With a few clicks, you can add another entity to Advanced Financial Closing and orchestrate centrally, to both reduce setup effort and drive standardization.
And, last, but not least: if you need to change and release a task list again, or you want to restart your testing, you can set the released task list obsolete and generate a new one, for the same period and fiscal year! From now on, you don’t need to create more and more financial data for testing different periods every time!
Hope this gave you some insights on what’s new with SAP S/4HANA 2023 and Advanced Financial Closing to further improve quality, efficiency and transparency of your financial close.
To engage further on this topic, you can visit our Advanced Financial Closing community or join us in our many customer events.
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