EPM Reflections 2015 #9 – Predictive Finance

As digital transformation evolves, the importance of real-time information has increased. Data is created 24 hours a day so if you are a CFO or finance professional today, you are likely getting hit with a maelstrom of financial data that’s taking longer and longer to process while the need to remain accurate and timely remains.


These challenges can be overcome through predictive finance:

  • Save time for finance teams by dramatically simplifying processes
  • Allow for better integration between financial plans and actual data
  • Provide CFOs with more data and input to steer better business decision-making
  • Optimize analysis across finance processes to drive superior business outcomes
  • Respond faster and with greater certainty to changing business conditions

Predictive finance allows CFOs to be accurate and efficient in a timely manner. It enables information to be processed and re-purposed in real time and this gives you the ability to make changes that are captured and revised on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Read more about the benefits of predictive finance here.

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.


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!


Nice and Simple – 6 Super Sessions for SAPinsider






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.

Financial Close Blog Series – It’s a Wrap!

By Elizabeth Milne, Senior Director, EPM Product Marketing

Originally posted on SAP Analytics, 1 May 2015. Reposted with permission.

In this blog, the 14th and final one in our accounting and financial close series, we’ll give you a recap of the series. Our objective as we planned and wrote this blog series, was to discuss various ways to improve the close process in the hopes that your company would find areas that you identify with and that give you suggestions and direction to better manage your financial close.

Each blog addressed certain steps in the accounting and financial close process. This process has many dimensions and will vary company by company. Throughout these steps (identified in the chart below) we’ve discussed different aspects such as people, process and technology, and suggested different ways of standardizing, centralizing and automating processes to improve efficiency and effectiveness of your financial close process.


For your easy reference, here’s a list of all the blogs presented in this series.   Special thanks to Birgit Starmanns, Pete Graham, Bob Davenport, and Stefan Karl for their contributions to this series. I enjoyed working on it and I hope you enjoyed reading it.

  1. You Want to Improve Your Financial Close Process – Where Do You Start?
  2. Accounting – The Financial Close and Simple Finance – How Fast Is Fast Enough?
  3. Accounting – 5 Things to Look for in Lease Accounting Software in Light of New Regulations
  4. Accounting – 5 Steps to Help Your Organization Prepare for the New Revenue Recognition Standards
  5. Entity Close – Improve Intercompany Reconciliation with People, Process and Technology
  6. Entity Close – How to Modernize your Account Reconciliations
  7. Entity Close – Improving on the Entity Close Process
  8. Corporate Close – Standardize, Centralize and Automate Your Corporate Close – Step 1 of 3
  9. Corporate Close – Standardize, Centralize and Automate Your Corporate Close – Step 2 of 3
  10. Corporate Close – Standardize, Centralize and Automate Your Corporate Close – Step 3 of 3
  11. Understating Analytics: Breaking down Reporting and Analysis Options for the Financial Close
  12. How to Reduce the Time, Risk, and Cost of Producing Standard Periodic Financial Reports
  13. How to Improve the Governance of Your End-to-End Financial Close

Continue reading

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.


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

Continue reading

How to Reduce the Time, Risk, and Cost of Producing Standard Periodic Financial Reports

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.

Elizabeth Bio & Pic