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.

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.

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.

Blog-FCG-Screen-1-300x243

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.

reports

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.

reports2

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

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:

RA_1

 

  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.

RA_2

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.

RA-Dashboard

 

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

Standardize, Centralize and Automate Your Corporate Close – Step 3 of 3

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

Originally published on SAP Analytics, 8 April 2015. Reposted with permission.

As part of our ongoing accounting and financial close series, today we’ll discuss best practices in the corporate close. Since this is quite a comprehensive topic, I’ve spilt this into three steps wrapping up today with “Get stuff out.”

As mentioned in our previous blogs in this series, some key aspects to think of when trying to identify areas of improvement in the close process are to consider where can I centralize, automate, or standardize. Then you need to cross reference those aspects with people, process, and technology. And to continue with our groups of three, the financial consolidation process has three major components: collecting data, performing calculations on that data, and reporting on the calculated data.

In other words:

close2

Get Stuff Out: Financial Reporting

The end game in financial consolidation is the production of financial reports, and the three biggies are: Statement of Financial Position (the balance sheet), Income Statement (the profit and loss or P&L statement) and the Statement of Cash Flows (what happened to all my money). These reports are the result of all the collection and calculations discussed so far in this blog series. But reporting is required not only at the aggregate level but at the disaggregate level as well. In other words, you need consolidating reports as well as consolidated reports.

step-three

It’s nice to get to the total, but the real value comes from being able to analyze how you got there, not only by entity as in our example above, but also by multiple dimensions mentioned earlier such as Account, Period, Category (Actual & Budget), Product, and Customer.

If the process of creating aggregated reports is very manually the disaggregating of such data also tends to be manual. Such manual processes are very time consuming and also quite error prone. Reporting software can be extremely helpful in automating the slicing and dicing of information, increasing speed of reporting and reducing errors. An implementation of reporting software can help put a key focus on the data which needs to be reported on and how best to standardize your information to make consumption that much easier.

Our next two blogs in this series will also focus on the “get stuff out” step as we focus on Reporting and Analysis and then Disclosure Management.

In summary, take a look at your people, processes and technology and figure out where you can standardize, centralize and automate your corporate close and financial consolidation.

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.

Elizabeth Bio & Pic

Standardize, Centralize and Automate Your Corporate Close – Step 2 of 3

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

Originally published on SAP Analytics, 6 April 2015. Reposted with permission.

As part of our ongoing accounting and financial close series, today we’ll continue the discussion with step two of best practices in the corporate close. Last time I talked about “put stuff in” all about collecting data and this time the topic will be about “do stuff” focusing on performing calculations.

Do Stuff: Performing Calculations

The driving principle of this step is automation. Many calculations and adjustments are required as part of the financial consolidation process. Any calculation that is repeatable can typically be automated. As long as you can define a math equation that can be programmed, most consolidation applications, such as SAP Business Planning and Consolidation, can automate that calculation.

Let’s discuss three major calculations that occur during consolidation.

1) Currency Conversion

If you have different entities that do business in different currencies, those currencies need to be translated into a group reporting currency for standardization purposes. Sometimes, organizations have more than one group currency if they have regulatory or management reporting requirements in multiple regions.

There are various exchange rates that need to be considered, most of the balance sheet is calculated using the exchange rates in effect at the date of the report. Certain accounts in the equity section will be translated at historical rates. Currency translation adjustments are also captured in the equity section. The income statement, on the other hand, is typically translated at the monthly average rate.

Since different accounts and entities are all translated at different rates, translation can get somewhat complicated. But they can be easily automated leveraging consolidation software.

2) Calculations of Ownership

Part of the consolidation process involves identifying which entities to consolidate at what percentages. Direct and indirect ownership need to be taken into consideration. Consider the following organizational structure:

step-two

“A” directly owns 50% of “B”, and “B owns 80% of “D”. “A”, therefore, has a 40% indirect ownership in “D”. This is a simple example, but you can imagine the complexity in which multiple entities own a percentage of multiple other entities, which is possible in some countries. The percentage at which entities are consolidated determines the method for consolidation. Standard thresholds along with consolidation methods are as follows:

Step-two-A

Different methods require different calculations, which – given the proper software tool – can easily be automated.

3) Consolidating Adjustments

This step is where automation is the driving principle. Many calculations performed during the consolidation process are the same every period. Not all consolidating adjustments can be automated, but many can.

Some examples of consolidating adjustment that may be able to be automated:

    • Elimination of Intercompany Transactions
    • Elimination of Investments
    • Elimination of Dividends
    • Elimination of Internal Provisions
    • Elimination of Goodwill
    • Equity: Group / Minority split
    • Currency Translation Adjustment (CTA) Reserves

We’ve reached the stopping point for “Do Stuff”. In my next blog I’ll cover the final step, “Get Stuff Out.”

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.

Elizabeth Bio & Pic