Intelligent Technology in SAP S/4HANA 1809 Increases Finance Expertise and Efficiency

CFOs today are under tremendous pressure to be both a financial leader and strategic business partner. The digital economy is transforming the role from “crunching numbers” to building business strategy while also maintaining operational performance.

Business leaders expect finance to deliver the necessary insights for fact-based decision making in order to optimize or renew their business models. With direct access to data spanning all aspects of the business, finance can provide a steady stream of actionable insights on trends that impact a business’ top and bottom lines.

SAP’s goal is to support finance professionals and lead customers into a new era — the intelligent era — where finance professionals can concentrate on higher value tasks. Technology is moving forward quickly and capabilities — like the company’s in-memory database SAP HANA, machine learning, and others like analytics — enable SAP to create new or dramatically enhanced solutions and processes.

More than 45 years of finance customer experience, combined with powerful technologies, has given way to the only intelligent finance solution, allowing SAP to constantly deliver new innovations.

Next Level of Intelligent Finance with SAP S/4HANA 1809

CFOs are adopting new technology to minimize the effort spent on day-to-day transactional tasks and maximize the effort dedicated to being a business partner. To free up time to concentrate on these higher value tasks, operational responsibilities cannot be abandoned, but need to be executed in a dramatically more efficient way. Introducing an unprecedented level of automation can unlock the true potential of finance organizations and enable the next level of intelligent finance.

Stepping Stone for Simplified Enterprise-Wide Consolidation and Group Reporting

To cope with a changing organizational view and respond to the need for better insights and the ability to constantly deliver accurate, up-to-date financial information in a more automated way — not only for entities but also at business unit or group level — a new key component has been introduced. SAP S/4HANA Finance for group reporting enables organizations to extend this evolution toward a continuous financial close at group level. A broad set of financial consolidation features, from data collection to the final consolidated financial statements, provides unprecedented transparency.  The process of financial closing and reporting from collection, processing, analysis, and publication of the information is dramatically accelerated.

SAP S/4HANA Finance for group reporting leverages the SAP S/4HANA universal journal as a single source of truth, unifies the local and group closing with accurate live data, and allows drill-down to line item details in local close and reports.

Increasing Efficiency in Operational Finance with Next-Generation Automation Scenarios

With the 1809 release of SAP S/4HANA, SAP has added multiple, highly automated scenario,s taking automation to the next level:

  • Goods and invoice receipt reconciliation: All relevant information is brought together in just one screen, and by integrating a digital assistant into the process, users experience improved collaboration designed for quicker and more efficient reconciliation of items. In October, machine learning capabilities are planned to add pro-active recommendations to resolve specific issues.

As part of the evolution toward a continuous close, the introduction of a new, highly automated process makes accrual management more efficient and accurate.

Extending the Reach of Decision Support by Optimizing Analytics and Forward-Looking Insights

Leaders still make decisions for the future based on data from the past. But to successfully lead enterprises into the future, decisions need to be made based on where the business is going to be. With the 1809 release of SAP S/4HANA, further enhancements are added to enable a more intelligent finance organization, including predictions through:

  • Predictive accounting: SAP added new key features to support organizations delivering more accurate forward-looking insights on their financial performance. The introduction of predictive accounting, which, unlike mathematics-based predictions, makes use of the already available document flow to predict financial results of the future.
  • Real-time margin analysis: Margin pressure has never been higher due to market volatility, competitive pressures, and costs. Finance is looking for better tools to help gain insights and make better and faster decisions to preserve or improve margins. SAP is responding to these requirements via new key features to enable reconciliation between management accounting information and legal financial data by design for all scenarios.
  • Embedded analytics: Most finance professionals will agree that it is often cumbersome to retrieve steering information from their enterprise resoruce planning (ERP) system. Additional capabilities have been added to support business users in getting insights more flexibly and efficiently, so they can concentrate on acting on the information, rather than investing time in number crunching.
  • Treasury management: Market and political volatility caused by events like Brexit, tax reforms, or low interest rates increase the importance of treasury management. This role has changed to be even more strategic in influencing important business decisions, so SAP has delivered new functions to support treasurers in this role. With the 1809 release, new analytical dashboards have been added that provide insights to critical areas, such as foreign exchange and interest rate management. The added ability to connect SAP treasury to external providers like banks, trading platforms, or market data agencies such as Thomson Reuters simplifies project implementations and provides real-time information.

Integration of Central Tax Determination Engine to Keep up Pace of Rules Change

  • Tax service: Global tax regulations get more diverse and complicated and change more often than ever before. Keeping up with the pace of change, typically in multiple systems, is a challenge. SAP’s response is a central tax determination engine with rules and rates maintained by SAP or its partners. With the 1809 release of SAP S/4HANA, emphasis has been placed on enabling self-service tax management, facilitating an organization’s chosen approach to reduce the risks and costs of inaccurate calculations and liability from non-compliance.

Enabling a Future of Intelligent Organizations

Many strategically important, new, and enhanced capabilities are being made available with the 1809 release of SAP S/4HANA, supporting the finance function better than ever before. Volatile market conditions, globalization, and increased competition force enterprises to react and build an intelligent organization to prepare themselves for a bright future.

In the new release of SAP S/4HANA, it’s all about enabling our customers to grow their businesses toward an intelligent organization.

Click here to learn more about finance solutions from SAP.

Martin Naraschewski is general manager and head of Line of Business Finance at SAP.