S/4HANA Finance Reporting Options
Our case company’s solution is a greenfield SAP S/4HANA EM implementation with extensive finance scope, including reporting. There were two options for overall BI solution: SAP BO company with direct access to HANA database and SAP BO company with BW as source data warehouse. The decision was in our case to implement so called ‘Light’ Architecture with SAP BO company running directly on S/4HANA without additional BW. Analysis for Office was chosen as an end-user tool to run the reports.
Benefits of ‘Light’ Architecture
Running BO directly from S/4HANA without additional BW offered many advantages. First, there was no need for additional data loads from ERP to BW. This not only simplified the company’s system architecture, but also revolutionized their overall Finance BI reporting process. Any financial master or transactional data changes in S/4HANA were immediately reflected in the reports. Hence company’s finance business users had access to real-time analytical data which both improved usability and streamlined reporting process. This also supported financial closing as all the period-end closing related BI reports will have up-to-date data without any additional data loads.
Second, by selecting ‘Light’ BI Architecture the company was also able to start BI development incrementally. With no need for additional BW, the company avoided Big Bang of implementing major data source system in the first phase. This gave an opportunity to start using the BI reporting in small scale while at the same time planning future BI strategy and scope.
Third, ‘Light’ BI Architecture also meant savings. Company avoided additional license fees as well as running maintenance costs when choosing to go forward without BW.
Challenges of ‘Light’ Architecture
Although ‘Light’ BI Architecture has several benefits, we encountered some challenges too. First, whole reporting solution had to be implemented from scratch. Since there was no BW in place there was no pre-made logic available either. This is typical to full scale BI solution implementations, even with BW in scope. However, without any predefined data logic and advanced functions provided by BW everything had to be done manually from scratch. This meant additional development time to define all required finance data models and logic.
Second, with ‘Light’ BI Architecture companies cannot benefit from the standard BW capabilities. Since BO is only able to read HANA tables directly without any complex data elements, there was no easy way to read e.g. Financial Statement Versions (FSV) as a report in BO. This is something that is fairly standard in full scale SAP BI solution with BW, however in ‘Light’ Architecture the only option would have been creating FSV’s again as a BO report. Of course this would mean not only duplicate development work, but also duplicate maintenance.
In our opinion, the so called ‘Light’ BI Architecture offers major benefits for new implementations to make an agile and incremental jump into SAP BI reporting utilizing S/4HANA’s architectural innovations and start working on the future BI strategy. Despite the challenges it has, we see it as a very good solution for new S/4HANA implementations.
Jiri Koponen & Tommi Smolander
Jiri is working at Accenture as a SAP FICO consultant in the Finnish SAP team. For the past 1,5 years his projects have taken him on to the deep end of core S/4HANA products such as SAP Accounting, SAP Cash Management, BPC and Fiori in multiple client engagements.
Tommi leads Accenture’s SAP Finance Transformation domain in Finland. He has 15 years of experience in delivering SAP solutions in various industries, with a specific focus on finance processes. In recent years, he has been involved in multiple S/4HANA Finance projects in different roles.
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