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Understating Analytics: Breaking down Reporting and Analysis Options for the Financial Close

By Elizabeth Milne, Sr Director, EPM Product Marketing, SAP

Originally published on SAP Analytics, 10 April 2015. Reposted with permission.

As part of our ongoing accounting and financial close series, today we’ll discuss reporting and analysis for the financial close.

In my last blog, we began to discuss financial reporting at a high level. We discussed how to get stuff out of a consolidation reporting tool. But the topic of reporting and analysis, as it relates to the financial close, is a lot broader than just basic financial statements. When financial reporting is mentioned, external reporting is the first thing that comes to mind – statutory and regulatory reports that are required by external stakeholders.

But just as important are the internal stakeholders. Examples of stakeholders:

External stakeholders

  • Statutory reporting to government agencies
  • Auditors
  • Financial lending institutions
  • Stockholders and stock exchanges

Internal stakeholders

  • Board members
  • Business owners
  • Executives, managers, and analysts

External stakeholders have standard consolidated reports that are required, but the internal stakeholders need more analytics. They need more ways of slicing and dicing information, often not only from consolidation systems but from operational systems. Analytics solutions from SAP are grouped as follows:

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  1. Enterprise performance management (EPM) encompasses strategy, planning and consolidation solutions (like SAP Business Planning and Consolidation as we discussed in some of our previous blogs) and SAP Disclosure Management (which we’ll cover in our next blog).
  2. Governance, risk and compliance (GRC) as it relates to the close will be covered in an upcoming financial close governance blog.
  3. Predictive analytics is an interesting one as it relates to the financial close process. The close process allows an organization to report what happened in the past. This is not “predictive” at all. However, being able to analyze why things happened in the past is where the close gets interesting and predictive analytics can help. As we collect more and more financial data at lower levels of granularity, we can then start to do predictive analytics and statistical analysis on the correlation and relationship of data to help figure out why things happened and what decisions can be made to affect financial information favorably in the future.
  4. Business intelligence (BI) is all about taking business data and making it consumable. There are various tools discussed below that help you anayze information to support your organizations to make informed decisions.

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As seen above the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence platform allows you to collect data from multiple sources, which could include financial consolidation data, and layer a Business Intelligence layer on top of it in order to standardize reporting across your organization.

Agile Visualization Solutions

Leveraging solutions such as SAP Lumira and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer allow you to discover trends, outliers, and areas of interest in your business. You can tell your story with self-service visualizations and analytics. This will allow you to easily adapt to business scenarios by combining, manipulating, and enriching data.

Dashboards and Apps

SAP BusinessObjects Dashboards and SAP Design Studio enable you to create powerful environment to build interactive and visually appealing analytics. You’re provided with a rich set of controls, like buttons, list boxes, drop-down, crosstabs, and charts. This allows you to create those pretty dashboards that our C-level executives love so much.

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Reporting Solutions

SAP Crystal Reports and SAP BusinessObjects Web Intelligence help you to create high productivity designs for reports. Users can quickly build formatted reports on any data source. You can securely distribute reports both internally and externally and minimize IT support costs by empowering end users to easily create and modify their own reports.

Bringing It All Together

When addressing financial reporting concerns, there are many stakeholder requirements that need to be addressed. As such, there are many reporting options that are available. To bring up our recurring theme of “People, Process and Technology:”

  • People – Consider who’s consuming the reports and what’s the best format to share the information with them.
  • Process – Decide which process the data is collected by, and how you can best standardize it for consumption.
  • Technology – Asses your people and process requirements and work with a software specialist to help identify the best tool to support you.

Discuss All These and More at SAPPHIRE NOW
Please join us at SAP’s SAPPHIRE NOW conference May 5 – 7 in Orlando, Florida. SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference is the ultimate opportunity to maximize your SAP investment and find solutions to your most pressing business challenges. Through face-to-face interactions with executives, industry experts, peers, and SAP partners, you’ll be able to leverage diverse points of view as you expand your business network. Learn best practices, explore cutting-edge solutions, and discover ways to reduce complexity in your business. With hundreds of sessions, you have the ability to customize your experience based on what’s most important to you.

I will be there with all of our guest bloggers from this series. If you’d like to discuss any of the topics in this series in more detail please stop by the Demo Station LB209: Simplify Accounting and Financial Close Processes and ask our experts. I look forward to seeing you there.

Read the previously published blogs in this series and stay tuned for upcoming blogs in the accounting and financial close series, where we will go into much greater detail on reporting. Learn more on our recent blog on the corporate close.

Elizabeth Bio & Pic