Federico Blarasin takes a first look at the benefits of SAP's Business Planning and Consolidation Optimised for S/4HANA.
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there: a trying last two weeks for year-end financial close has finally come to an end. The last minute adjustments are entered in the system and everything ties up on your report. The sense of relief is overwhelming.
However, this is too good to last. The next morning, a call comes from the Financial Planning and Analysis office: the numbers are not correct on its report. After some discussions via email and a couple of calls to other departments, the issue is uncovered: a failed data load between the data warehouse and the finance system. As happens on these occasions, just after you’ve discovered the root of the problem, an email drops into your inbox from IT stating that everything has now been corrected.
The knock on effects
Many of you with an IT or Finance background will have been in a similar situation. Tight deadlines and technical issues don’t go well together, and more often than not, a single failure at the wrong time determines confidence (or lack of) in a system. In this case, a failed data load and the absence of timely communication around that failure can generate tons of emails, overtime, resentment and proliferation of office politics: everything but productivity. No matter if the issue is resolved, half a day spent sending emails to the help desk is not the best business card for a stable system.
As organisations are progressing on their digital transformation programme, why is this still happening? The answer is that it’s predominantly as a result of historical architecture: the classic technology architecture is to separate transactional and analytical systems, loading data on a regular basis from one to the other. This approach made a great deal of sense when it was established many years ago, creating an appropriate balance between access to the data and performance. However, now technology is progressing this concept is no longer necessary.
Why isn’t it necessary?
In two words: real-time. Hardware gets cheaper and more powerful year after year, and now it is possible to access data in real-time without the need for replication. This is the principle behind Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) Optimised for SAP S/4HANA: it gives you the power of SAP Financial and the flexibility of SAP BPC in a unified package, without any boundaries between the two components.
Planning is a known feature for S/4HANA, as previous posts from our team highlight:
What is new with the 1610 release of S/4HANA is the real-time consolidation. This uses the Embedded Consolidation to interface directly with the finance dataset, providing you direct access to your posting with no need to load them in to a separate tool. As a result, the whole process is speeded up, giving you additional time to run some of the tasks on month end (no need to wait for IT for data loads or other complications).
Another benefit is simplification: this is not a separate application, but it is embedded in S/4HANA. That means fewer support groups and defined accountability when something goes wrong.
Undeniably this tool is going in the right direction: simplifying the Finance team’s lives. The technical objects and the front-end are a little different from the standard SAP BPC that we have grown to know so well, but the reasoning behind this is clear. The use of a different data model (the Embedded model) together with the power of the HANA database unlocks many possibilities that were not available with the BPC Standard model. Analysis for Office, the front end plug-in, gives you the consistency of having all your tools in one place: you can access your planning and consolidation workbooks, but also all the other reports from S/4HANA.
Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) Optimised for S/4HANA is a relatively new tool, and we’re looking forward to giving you feedback from running it in a live environment.