Glass half full; EPM reflections

For the last few years at the end of each year I’ve run a series on the CFOKnowledge social media channels called “EPM Reflections” in which I take a look at what’s driven the SAP solutions for EPM team that year. But this year I have decided to buck the trend a little, and instead of waiting for the cold of December to arrive, I thought I’d take a breath right now on this beautiful and sunny June day, and look back at a few of the many activities that have been the focus of the EPM team here at SAP these last few months.

SAP Cloud for Planning; Plan simpler!

We entered 2015 with the announcement of availability of SAP Cloud for Planning, which officially “hit the streets” in February. The whole EPM team is extremely proud of our latest solution, a SaaS planning and analysis application designed with the business user in mind and delivering a collaborative environment for business planning that draws on our many years’ experience in delivering industry-leading EPM solutions.

Since its launch, my colleagues in SAP have taken SAP Cloud for Planning on tour to many cities world-wide, so that customers have an opportunity to come and see this new and exciting evolution of our EPM solution suite. Interest in our new cloud offering is growing, with some great feedback from visitors to our tour, which is of course supported by a generally growing acceptance and adoption of cloud-technology for business use. This will surely play a dominant role in our focus for the second half of 2015 too.

Events, events, events!

Generally the first half of each calendar year is a hot-bed for event-related activities, with key events being SAPinsider Las Vegas in March, SAPPHIRENOW from Orlando in May and SAPinsider Nice in June. The most recent of these for the EPM team, SAPinsider Financials in Nice took place just a couple of weeks ago, and I can report that this was a fabulous event in a superb location. I mean, who wouldn’t want to attend a conference held on the Cote d’Azur in late spring? But of course attention was focused inwardly on the event rather than outside, and over three days attendees had the opportunity to hear from SAP, business partners and more importantly SAP’s customers about how technology is helping to transform their finance operations and business performance. I had the opportunity to sit in on a number of customer presentations, many of which I mentioned in my pre-event blog post, and I am pleased to say that it’s a delight to hear so many customers speak about their experience and their roles with such passion. I have to say a big “thank you” to all customers attending and presenting at the SAPinsider events this year, as well as “congratulations” to the organizers WIS for another great event.

And of course, don’t worry, if you missed an event early in 2015 then you’ll have more opportunities to attend later in the year as SAPinsider visits Singapore in September, and then later in the year we’ll be hosting our SAP Financial Planning, Consolidation and Controls conference in Las Vegas.

SAP Radio Game-Changers Financial Excellence Show!

This is a real gem of a show. If you haven’t listened to it yet then I can’t recommend it highly enough, as the quality and depth of discussions held in this weekly show is truly excellent. I’ve been fortunate to have been on the organizing team for the Financial Excellence radio show since its inception, and now in our fourth series I can say with assurance that the show has lost none of its appeal. Each series comprises 13 weekly hour-long shows and features a changing panel of experts who discuss technology impacts across many areas of finance and finance business process. With panelists joining from business analyst organizations, management consultancies, system integrators, research organizations, end-users as well as SAP, the discussions are often rich in detail and experience, always engaging and often thought-provoking. While radio may be “old tech” when compared with newer social media approaches (albeit delivered over the Internet), I for one love this radio show as it’s always topical and an extremely engaging way to learn something new from “people who know”. Take a listen to this week’s episode here, or if you want to listen to any of the shows from the back-catalogue then take a look at the list of prior shows which are all available for replay. And though we’re nearing the end of our current series we hope to be back for a fifth series again in the future – so keep that (IP) radio tuned in!

And so, those are my first few reflections on 2015 for the EPM team here at SAP. Certainly a glass half-full, if not more. No doubt I shall still return with more reflections in December – and if the second half of the year is as busy as the first then our glass won’t just be full, it’ll be over-spilling by that time!

GRC 2015 – One Week On!

By Thomas Frenehard, GRC Solution Management

Originally posted on SAP Analytics, 23 June 2015

Steve Lucas delivering the keynote address at SAPinsider 2015 Nice

Steve Lucas of SAP delivering the keynote address at SAPinsider 2015 Nice

Last week, SAPinsider held its GRC 2015 event in Nice, France and it was energising and fast paced! For those who couldn’t attend, I thought I’d share with you some of the great discussions I had with customers and also one of the announcements made that should be of interest to SAP’s GRC community.

Do More With Less

Of course this has been top of mind for many companies with the recent economic turmoil where resources are scarce and investments most often reduced to vital activities. But every customer I spoke with mentioned that their management is now asking them to increase their regulatory and operational efficiency coverage with “optimized options”. In essence, to do more controls with less resources.

It was motivating to hear feedback from customers who have already taken this path and leveraged their internal audit department to help. This showed that a true collaboration between the compliance team and the internal auditors can lead to the set-up of a sound and very efficient internal control system.

Three Lines of Defense

The three lines of defense was definitely THE hot topic at the event. And I could see the acronym 3LOD gain more and more traction, day by day. Many companies were interested in discussing how to align their operations, compliance, and audit departments. Interestingly, IT and business departments both mentioned this as a key (process) roadmap item for them in the near future. For business, the intent is to achieve the assurance level required by their executives and for IT departments the rationalization of the software landscape that would be brought with this approach was a definitive winner.

Operational Risk Management

Here I’m not referring to the banking Operational Risk Management (ORM) approach, but the intent to do risk management (identification, analysis and mitigation) at the operations or asset level. Having the ability to still be able to integrate the results in a wider Enterprise Risk Management framework so that a unique reporting of the company risk profile can be displayed at any time – without requiring lengthy manual risk consolidation.

It was interesting to hear the different opinions on what ORM is for each sector as there doesn’t seem to be a single – widely adopted – definition or approach. This is definitely one of the key points I took home that I’ll need to think about this summer!

Congratulations are In Order!

Last but not least, congratulations to EY and Integrc, two of our great partners in the area of GRC who have decided to combine forces. I wish them all the very best in the process! In conclusion, if you’ve never been, Nice is a lovely city, filled with history, beautiful landscapes, and delicious food. Associated with a great event, I have to admit that my week was far from being a punishment.

 

Note from the editor:

Thank you Thomas for this succinct wrap-up of GRC focus topics and discussions at the recent SAPinsider event in Nice.

Should readers of CFOKnowledge want to learn more about the GRC or Financials events, here are a few links to some excellent blogs from my colleague Derek Klobucher. I think you’ll enjoy them!

ŸHow Real-Time Analytics Will Kill a Financial Tradition

ŸWhy Paranoia Is Good for Business

ŸScreen Your Partners or Risk Guilt by Association

 

 

 

Financials and Planning – Coming Together in Nice

By Pras Chatterjee, Senior Director Product Marketing, SAP

Next week on June 15th to 18th in Nice, France the SAP Finance community in EMEA comes together for SAPinsider Financials 2015. In the spirit of “coming together” it’s interesting how there is so much excitement around our SAP NetWeaver based planning solution, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver and the content provided through Integrated Business Planning for finance.

jigsaw1

The introduction of SAP Simple Finance last year caused a great deal of excitement among finance professionals. The innovations within SAP Simple Finance modernize the SAP ERP Financials solution by leveraging the native capabilities of the SAP HANA platform with next generation architecture and a reinvented user experience including SAP Fiori.

Strides in Planning and Forecasting

In the area of planning and forecasting, SAP Business Planning and Consolidation has made great strides. We all know of the issues faced by customers that plan in spreadsheets, however one of the greatest pet peeves of any Office of the CFO planner is the lack of integration between their financial data in ERP and what resides in their planning solution. Too often there is still considerable manual work performed by finance professionals, whereby they are reconciling the difference in data between their ERP and their Planning systems at the end of each month. This may be due to the fact that updates made in the GL were not updated in the planning solution, or new Master Data (e.g. a new account or cost center) created in ERP wasn’t reflected in their planning system. With SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver we have now made that integration a reality for customers, leveraging the SAP BW NetWeaver platform to keep data and master data consistent through quick and easy connections.

Integration Leads to Customer Value

With SAP Simple Finance, the integration and customer value has become even stronger. Customers can work on one SAP ERP powered by SAP HANA, with SAP Business Planning and Consolidation installed directly in this ERP environment. Actuals for data and master data will also be available in true real time meaning that as transactions hit SAP ERP, they are automatically updated in the planning environment. This planning deployment for SAP Simple Finance based on SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver is referred to as Integrated Business Planning for finance, thus truly highlighting the “coming together” aspect of ERP Financials and Planning.

It’s all happening in Nice!

There are a lot of great sessions that will be taking place in Nice, France next week as part of SAPInsider Financials. I encourage you to join me as I present topics such as Leverage SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, version for SAP NetWeaver and SAP Simple Finance to integrate your business plans in a real-time manner and the 2015 guide to the newest capabilities of SAP Business Planning and Consolidation 10.1

I shall look forward to seeing you in Nice!

 

SAP Cloud for Planning World Tour – Toronto Stop

By Pras Chatterjee, Senior Director Product Marketing, SAP

Last week on May 27th I had the pleasure of hosting the SAP Cloud for Planning World Tour in Toronto where customers attended an informal Downtown Toronto venue after work. The event brought together financial planning and analysis professionals who came to hear about the new SAP Cloud for Planning solution, listen to our guest speaker Brian Kalish from the Association for Finance Professionals as well as see a demo of the product. Finally after all this there were cocktails and questions that spurred on quite a few great decisions.

SAP Cloud for Planning presented in Toronto

SAP Cloud for Planning presented in Toronto

Coming from Toronto myself, most of my peers in the FP&A space (along with myself) come equipped with Canadian accounting designations that are quite rigorous to pursue. For the most part all attendees had a strong theoretical (designated Chartered Professional Accountants) and practical (through experience) understanding of Budgeting and Forecasting and I’ve always felt it was enough to move companies ahead in the past, but what about now and in the future?

Steering the Ship

Our guest speaker Brian Kalish (@AFPFpanda) made some great points that really resonated with the audience. Brian talked about a business being a ship and finance individuals needing to be at the front of the ship guiding their businesses through the rough waters ahead and into areas of growth and profit. Often in today’s world Finance individuals and trained accountants spend their time explaining what happened yesterday or last month through much investigation and detail which is akin to standing at the back of the ship or stern and looking behind while things move forward. With tools such as Predictive Analytics, or even disciplined habits such as Rolling Forecasts available, is Finance ready to help their business move forward?

Ready for Change

Other discussions that came about in conversations were the fact that finance individuals are ready to embrace technology. Some customers complained about the fact that they still plan in Excel spreadsheets and spend large amounts of time aggregating data and making sure numbers tie out. In today’s world with cloud based planning systems the hard work is done. Transformation and aggregation are a thing of the past and are done in real time to those companies that adopt technology. There’s so much more than just displaying numbers, but the various methods that can be used through advanced visualization options (e.g. user defined dashboards), on-demand KPI’s and use of mobile products for collaboration.

Yet for all the discussions that I heard about organizations that were ready to move forward I felt a sunken feeling talking to one organization that came to hear about next generation technology. Their attendees mentioned that they are using a tool in maintenance mode which requires a niche skillset through expensive consultants. Considering that in today’s market powerful finance tools for planning, especially those in the cloud are made to be owned, managed and designed by finance I’m curious to follow this organization to see where they land in terms of their planning technology strategy.

Overall it was an excellent event that most everyone from presenters and attendees benefited in many ways. If you’re in France in two weeks, come to SAPInsider Financials 2015 Nice where we will be having some great sessions on Planning in the Cloud. With the world tour wrapping up its North America leg and now starting in June and July to visit Europe and Latin America, I’ll be curious as to what the challenges finance faces from a global and regional perspective, and how they will embrace technology to overcome it.

Nice and Simple – 6 Super Sessions for SAPinsider

GRC

Financials

 

 

 

Fully refreshed and recharged after a slight break in event-related activity (see my earlier post regarding the SAPPHIRE NOW event), attention now turns to Nice in France, where the SAP solutions for Finance teams shall be heading soon to attend our next “major” of the season with the SAPinsider conferences. While containing a number of topic areas, my attention will be focused on two areas in particular, the Financials and GRC events.

I don’t know about you, but when attending business conferences I like to do a little bit of forward planning, so that I can get the most out of my time spent at the event – a little bit like planning a route around the Disney theme parks I guess, but with more time spent seated, rather than queuing and without all those people walking around in character outfits. But planning takes time, which many of us don’t have in abundance during our working hours, and so to help provide some focus I want to share my “ super six” sessions to see at SAPinsider, to give you a nice and simple start towards your event agenda.

6 Super Sessions to See in Nice

In selecting 6 sessions, I’ve kept things as simple as possible, focusing exclusively on customer case study sessions rather than the Keynote, or the Simple Finance, EPM and GRC roadmaps sessions which are all available too. But you can select these at your discretion at the SAPinsider website. Rather, I’ve chosen customer sessions because these are where you’ll get the inside scoop about implementing software solutions, from your industry peers who want to share their experiences with you. And in my opinion, customer stories like these are the most valuable of all the event sessions. So here they are my 6 customer stories for Nice:

  1. 16 June, 2.00pm: Cargill – large-scale finance transformation project
  2. 17 June, 8.30am: GlaxoSmithKline – rolling out SAP Risk Management across the organisation
  3. 17 June, 10.30am: Sonae Indústria – revamping controlling and corporate management reporting
  4. 17 June, 2.30pm: Gazprom Neft – using SAP BPC 10.0 to align consolidated and mgmt reporting
  5. 17 June, 4.45pm: Airbus – faster, simpler integrated financial reporting and planning
  6. 18 June, 10.30am: VCEAA – reducing segregation of duties conflicts

But of course that’s not all, and you certainly don’t need to follow the above sessions if you don’t fancy them – there are many more to choose from. But whether you’re interested in SAP Simple Finance, EPM or GRC customer stories, or want to hear from SAP on any of these topics, then you can build your own agenda to suit your needs.

If you’re in Nice this year, then I wish you a very successful and informative trip. I’ll be there too, so say “hello” if you see me. And I hope that my cross-Finance customer session suggestions in some way help to make your planning that bit more Nice and Simple.

How to Improve the Governance of Your End-to-End Financial Close

By Stefan Karl, Senior Director, Finance Solutions, SAP.

Originally posted on SAP Analytics, 28 April 2015. Reposted with permission.

As part of our ongoing accounting and financial close series, today we’ll discuss how to improve the compliance and quality of the financial close with automated internal control management and governance of financial master data.

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So far in our blog series, we’ve covered all steps of the financial close – from accounting to entity close, corporate close, and reporting and disclosure. Most of the solutions presented include governance capabilities – for example, structured approaches to compliance with multiple accounting standards, standardization of closing tasks and reporting templates across subsidiaries and closing cycles, or flexible workflow approvals.

The two solutions covered in this blog apply to the end-to-end financial close, and this is why we’ve grouped them into a separate pillar for Financial Close Governance.

Automate Your Compliance and Control Management Processes

As part of the external financial close, management is often required by regulations to establish and assess the effectiveness of internal control over financial reporting. This should provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability, i.e. completeness and correctness, of the external financial reporting. This management assessment is then often subject to an external audit. But, even without external reporting requirements, it’s become a good business practice to establish a sound internal control system and perform automated control testing to detect errors in business processes early on.

A comprehensive solution providing such functionality is SAP Process Control which is part of a suite of SAP solutions for governance, risk, and compliance. Key capabilities of SAP Process Control are as follows:

  • Document: maintain your compliance and control structures which includes defining organizations, processes, controls, risks, policies and regulations
  • Scope: perform materiality analysis and assess risks to determine in-scope organizations and processes, and thus avoid over-testing and under-testing.
  • Evaluate: schedule manual and automated control evaluations to execute your test strategies including issue identification and remediation
  • Monitor: leverage process control automation to identify, track and review any exceptions identified by continuous monitoring processes
  • Report: use embedded analytics and reports to provide continuous insight into the status of compliance and controls

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Plan Simpler at SAPPHIRE NOW 2015

By Karuna Mukherjea, Sr Director Product Marketing, SAP

Originally published on SAP Community Network, 27 April 2015. Reposted with permission.

SAPPHIRE NOW as always continues to mark a time at SAP where we showcase our latest innovations, get to meet our existing customers and start building relationships with our new customers and the larger SAP Community. My colleague Pras Chatterjee talks about the “New Perspectives in Planning” that will shared at SAPPHIRE NOW 2015. SAP is about making the lives of our customers simpler! On that note we decided to make planning simpler. With the launch of our latest solution SAP Cloud for Planning, finance professionals can really simplify and optimize the FP&A Process. Built natively on the SAP HANA Cloud Platform with embedded analytics and collaboration and consumer grade UI, this application has truly transformed how the FP&A function and the role it will play in finance organizations.

Plan Simpler with SAP Cloud for Planning

Attend these Demo Theater Sessions and learn how you can plan better by simplifying financial planning and analysis. See how the SAP Cloud for Planning solution helps by delivering a people-centric user interface, embedded analytics, collaboration capabilities, and powerful modeling, all within a single product. Also get a chance to meet with the SAP Cloud for Planning Product Experts and discuss how this solution can solve your current challenges of FP&A.

Explore the Benefits of Planning Solutions in the Cloud

Attend these Demo Theater Sessions and learn how to make your planning faster and simpler with real-time insight, collaboration, and powerful modeling. See how the combination of the SAP HANA platform and the SAP Cloud for Planning solution make this possible. Examine all the new design features the cloud planning solution offers.

Get Ready for Next-Generation Financial Planning and Analysis in the Cloud

Join SAP and Deloitte in this micro forum discussion.This discussion will help you determine if you’re ready for simpler financial planning in the cloud. Hear SAP and business partner experts discuss the access, collaboration, and deployment benefits of a cloud-based planning solution and offer sound advice on how to get started.

We look forward to seeing all of at one or more of these sessions. If you are unable to attend any session come by our “Simplify Financial Planning and Analysis” Demo Station located at LB210 in the Line of Business Finance area. Learn how to Plan Simpler with SAP Cloud for Planning and have a great SAPPHIRE NOW.