Just 1 tip for your SAP FSCM project

23 November 2011

Mark Chalfen

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

If you are considering implementing SAP FSCM the one simple tip I would give you is to remember that the project is 80% business change and 20% system change.

A normal type of engagement would start with you the customer feeling the need to improve the efficiency of your Accounts Receivable department. The department may not be performing as well as some of your peers and you want to resolve that. You might then speak with your SAP system integrator to see if there is anyway the current SAP Accounts Receivable system can be improved. The normal answer is that within SAP Accounts Receivable, the functionality has not really changed for the past 15 years, however there is a new sub module called SAP FSCM that should enable you to achieve some benefits. After a quick system demo, you would have fallen in love with the new system as the screens seem easier to use, and you should go away believe that the benefits that you want to achieve, can come from implementing SAP FSCM. However there is a massive gap, to improve the efficiency of your Accounts Receivable department, you cannot do it by system alone, business process needs to change. You need to review you current business processes, and work out where you efficiencies can be made within the processes.

Three areas to focus on:

  1. A single way of working
  2. Improve the efficiency of the team
  3. Make better decisions

A single way of working

When reviewing business processes to enhance you should look to remove manually intensive tasks with automated processes. A common change would be around the way the lists of customers to contacts are generated. A normal process for a customer using standard SAP Accounts Receivable would be to download their Aged Debt report into Excel, and then manually update the spreadsheet offline. This is manually intensive, and is very hard to provide reporting for the Accounts Receivable Manager. Within SAP FSCM's Collection Management, the Collections Worklist removes the manual tasks, so the technology makes significant improvements to the process. However the worklists will only work after there has been agreement as to how the Collections Worklists are formed. The generation of worklists in essence is fairly simple, but ensuring that the correct customers appear in the correct order within the Collections Worklist is where the process is really being changed.

Improve the efficiency of the team

One of the main ways to move an Accounts Receivable team forward is to improve their efficiency. One of the core tasks of the Accounts Receivable is to manage disputes that customers have raised. A dispute will relate to an issue with an invoice, and the customer will not pay that invoice until the issue has been resolved. The department need to ensure that the issues/ disputes are resolved in a timely manner. The change needs to focus on creating a process that will reduce the time it takes to log, process and resolve a dispute. The process needs to define who is required for different types of disputes, for different business units, and set business targets in terms of turnaround time. This should then enable you to define a "to-be" process map, and it should also help define the scope of the system implementation. Within SAP FSCM, the Dispute Management module is now seen as a best of breed solution. However a customer will never gain the full benefit of a SAP solution unless the correct process has been mapped out. Within SAP FSCM Dispute Management, you can use workflow to control the flow of the dispute through the various business users during the various stages of the dispute.

Making better decisions

There is a very good saying - "you can take a horse to water, but you cant make it drink". Within the Accounts Receivable Department some of the most critical decisions will relate decisions around Credit Limits. Customers are given Credit Limits and there will be occasions where the limits need to be reviewed and potentially changed. This is an area where process and systems are inter-twinned. Within SAP FSCM Credit Management the system allows the process to use both internal and external data to "rate" customers to make enhanced Credit Decisions. This is a real value add to the SAP FSCM stable of modules and is very appealing to potential customers. However the technology in isolation will not provide the benefit. The business needs to step up to the plate and contribute to the process re-engineering, as this will provide the REAL benefit to the customer. The benefits of getting improved Credit Limits should lead to a reduction in bad debt which will have a positive impact on the true profitability of a business.

Summary


If you are looking to commence a SAP FSCM project do not JUST look at the technical build and technical solution. The benefits you will achieve in isolation will be pretty poor, and in hindsight you may end up being disappointed with the product. Having worked with the product for a number of years and having worked with the actual SAP developers and product designers, I can confirm that it is a great product. I can also tell you that you can achieve all of the benefits that you wish to achieve and even more.  Let's remember there is more to a business than an Accounts Receivable Department, and some of the benefits that can be achieved can spread to other areas of a business and the size of some of these may well surprise you, but that is another story all together.


 

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About the author

Mark Chalfen

Former SAP S/4HANA Global Lead

Mark tells it straight - as an ex-boxer, what else would you expect?  Both his knowledge and experience of SAP products allow him to cut to the chase dispelling myths and hearsay.

As a result of working closely with various SAP Finance Product Management teams on product development, Mark understands these products inside out. This depth of understanding has led to him become a ‘thought leader’ in his field; after all, it is not often SAP consultants have helped shape and develop the very product they are selling.

Having such a strong relationship with SAP alongside being an SAP Mentor and Moderator means that Mark has an extensive network within SAP. For clients, this relationship proves to be a huge advantage and leads to configuration issues being resolved rapidly.

Mark has worked on short proof of concepts through to year-long multi-million pound global roll-outs. However, no matter how large or small the project, the true value Mark brings to his work is in the guidance he provides to senior stakeholders. In essence, he assists them to implement more effective processes and drive better behaviours within their finance teams.

Helping organisations transform their business with SAP S/4HANA is Mark’s current focus. The benefits of S/4HANA are numerous, including the simplification of tasks, embedded analytics and improved user engagement. Whilst the eventual move from SAP Business Suite into S/4HANA is inevitable, the journey to it is not always clear. Mark’s ability to understand an organisation’s needs coupled with his deep understanding of S/4HANA provides clarity and eases their transition.

Bluefin and SAP S/4HANA - welcome to the one horse race

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