By Elizabeth Milne, Sr Director, EPM Product Marketing, SAP
Originally published on SAP Analytics, 17 April 2015. Reposted with permission.
I finished my close, now how can I reduce the time, risk, and cost of producing standard periodic financial reports?
As part of our ongoing accounting and financial close series, today we’ll discuss disclosure management, which is a market term for producing standard periodic financial reports.
In our last blog, we discussed reporting and analysis for the financial close, and disclosure management is an extension of that. It’s the process of producing the final product of the close to disclose process. So after you run all your batch processes, close each entities’ books, reconcile intercompany, collect and check data at corporate, run consolidation, and make consolidating adjustments you need to produce formal reports. As in our last blog, this is for both internal and external purposes. Examples of this end product: annual report, quarterly report, board report, ops review, and so on. Depending on your organization, the final product will vary, and most likely you will have multiple reports that vary internal and external and periodically.
In most organizations, there’s a designated “owner” of these types of reports. For this blog’s purposes, let’s call her Leia. This is usually a manual process. She has a word document that each period she does a “save as” then updates the information in that report with the new period information. She then e-mails the document to various stakeholders, C-level executives, and/or divisional or market unit leads who make their edits and send them back to her. Leia then consolidates all the changes into a master document, which has multiple review cycles.
Let’s discuss the challenges with Leia’s approach – lack of Automation, Visibility, and Control.
Lack of Automation
Leia collects data in the report from disparate data sources across system landscapes. Some data comes from the consolidation solution and other from the HR system. Sometimes you can link data in word to outside sources, but Leia does a manual cut and paste for spreadsheets and narrative. With this approach, ’’is easy to make mistakes. Data is often reused in multiple reports, so she updates it in one report she needs to remember to update it.
Lack of Visibility
Because Leia’s e-mail communications produce multiple document instances and versions, it’s difficult to keep track of who changed what where. E-mail workflow is difficult to manage and audit. Last-minute adjustments may cause inconsistencies and lack of control. Leia needs to ensure that if she updates the revenue number on page 6, than the revenue break down on page 36 is also updated.
Lack of Control
Since Leia’s company does business globally, regulations in different jurisdictions add to her complexity problem. She also has to deal with multinational groups across continents and time zones (so when working with Asia, for example, the smallest change could cost a whole day). And at the end of the day, multiple output formats are required (PDF, HTML, XBRL). People, process, and technology has been a key theme in this series so far and disclosure management is no exception. However, while Leia depends on e-mail and word processor technology, she focuses more on the people and the process. This is a prime area of improvement to leverage technology. Disclosure management solutions are plentiful in the market. I’m the most familiar with SAP Disclosure Management so I can share some of the functionality that might help Leia.
Automation with SAP Disclosure Management
SAP Disclosure Management has a central data store so Leia can automate the population of this data store by creating feeds from her various data sources. This will save her from manually updating data and making mistakes. Data is often reused in multiple reports, so if she updates it in one report she needs to remember to update it everywhere. With SAP Disclosure Management, Leia can create multiple reports based on the same data store so she doesn’t need to update the same data in multiple reports, just the data store.
Visibility with SAP Disclosure Management
Leia can create a report structure within SAP Disclosure Management where she can organize a report into multiple chapters. She can assign different chapters to different people for updating. Additionally, there’s a built-in work flow so she can assign a different approver for that editor to the same chapter. The workflow also makes it very easy to see what chapters have been completed and which still need work. Last-minute adjustments are then easier to manage since the report update is now automated.
Control with SAP Disclosure Management
Since SAP Disclosure Management hosted on a server and accessibly via the internet, all of Leia’s stakeholders can access the report 24/7 in all time zones. Creating different reports for different jurisdictions can be managed easily since she can reuse chapters in multiple reports. And at the end of the day, SAP Disclosure Management can provide multiple output formats (PDF, HTML, XBRL).
SAP Disclosure Management helps Leia (or you) reduce the time, risk, and cost of producing standard periodic financial reports.
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 corporate governance. Learn more on our recent blog on reporting and analysis for the corporate close.