In a perfect world, businesses would always pay the lowest prices for goods and supplies, employees would never fudge their expense reports, and ERP systems and processes would be infallible. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in. Employees sometimes commit internal fraud and business processes don’t always reflect the regulatory policies in place. Some people might say this is simply a cost of doing business. Oversight Systems is not one of them.
Oversight Systems provides continuous analysis (CA) software, a technology that allows companies to identify policy violations and detect fraud through real-time analysis of all transactions across any ERP or financial transaction system. Patrick Taylor, CEO of Oversight Systems, explains: “If a sales representative is offering unauthorized discounts to customers, for example, or if an employee is consistently claiming abnormally high expenses, the CA software will catch it.”
With Oversight, companies are able to monitor activities in the areas of procure-to-pay, card spend, travel and expense, accounting and reporting, HR and payroll, and order-to-cash.
SAP and Oversight established a partnership several years ago to ensure that customers’ backend SAP systems integrate seamlessly with Oversight’s CA solution, which is today the only SAP Endorsed Business Solution for continuous analysis. This means that it has undergone an assurance cycle similar to SAP’s own solutions. Thanks to the partnership, SAP customers are able to complement and extend their SAP ERP and SAP BusinessObjects Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) applications with Oversight’s CA solution.
And now, Oversight Systems is among the first SAP partners to develop on SAP’s in-memory platform. Oversight is currently working to bring the benefits of SAP HANA to its CA solution. So, in the near future, customers stand to gain even more from the two companies’ ongoing collaboration, namely real real-time analytics for improved detection of fraud and policy violations.
According to Taylor, continuous analysis is ideally suited to the SAP HANA platform: “We run very complex, multi-dimensional analytics that push databases really hard. So there is a demonstrable advantage to be had from using HANA.” That’s because in the error and fraud detection business, knowing sooner – of a policy violation or fraudulent activity – is always better. And SAP HANA makes that possible.
Knowledge is power
Oversight’s CA solution used to run analytics on a daily or hourly basis, and in some cases, every few minutes. However, the more frequently analyses were conducted, the simpler they had to be. With SAP HANA, that is no longer the case. “In a broad sense, HANA lets you run faster than every few minutes and with a more complex set of analytics than you could before,” says Taylor.
This capability is best demonstrated in the area of spend monitoring, a part of the CA solution that examines every line item of every purchase order as it’s submitted for approval. The solution evaluates prior purchasing history and vendor contracts to determine if the company should negotiate a lower price or go to a particular vendor to get the best deal.
Previously, an employee would submit the purchase order and an analysis would be run after the fact. On SAP HANA, the analysis occurs as the employee inputs the data, and if the system determines that a better price is available, a notification will pop up on the employee’s monitor. The employee can act upon this information right away. “The difference with SAP HANA is that it empowers employees to make smart decisions for the business,” says Taylor. “It makes you more efficient.”
A new approach
On the one hand, SAP HANA supercharges existing analytic applications so that they’re able to analyze more data at a much faster pace. On the other hand, it provides businesses with an entirely new breed of analytics that weren’t even possible before.
This can be seen in the financial sector, which deals with particularly large volumes of data. In the past, most financial companies were only able to run pre-calculated analytics, and they had to do so overnight. SAP COPA Accelerator software, one of the first applications developed on the SAP HANA platform, introduced real-time reporting and analytics to the financial sector.
For Taylor, the changes that SAP HANA has brought to the financial sector and to continuous analysis reflect a larger shift in the way companies now approach analytics: “The whole big-data space is now saying that there are really compelling insights to be found if we start looking at specific instances and searching for the interesting anomalies. We’re going to move from measuring our world in averages, to measuring our world in discrete events.”
This is the belief that lies at the heart of SAP HANA: that more information leads to greater insight. That knowing sooner is always better.