How SAP S/4HANA helps you transform financial analytics and reporting

Sep 09, 2019
  • finance
  • automotive
  • chemicals
  • SAP

As the roles of today’s CFOs shift from the passive oversight and management of figures, revenues and expenditures to more value-added, strategic responsibilities, the importance of reporting – and analytics – is skyrocketing. From operational and management through to performance reporting: how do you collect the insights you need to drive value? Here’s how SAP S/4HANA lends a hand.

In our previous CFO Connect newsletter, we gave CFOs four reasons to transition to SAP S/4HANA. ‘Gain real-time insights, thanks to embedded analytics’ was one of them: SAP’s next-gen business suite comes with a set of features by default that enable users to perform real-time analytics on live transactional data – as a basis for operational reporting. 

CFOs who want deeper tactical and strategic insights, more data modeling options or reports on data from other sources can easily complement SAP S/4HANA’s embedded analytics with extra analytics tooling and a modern data warehouse. 

Embedded analytics – right out of the box

While in the past, CFOs had to implement SAP BW to draw insights from the financial figures, SAP S/4 HANA offers real-time analytics right out of the box in the core of its platform. “As SAP S/4HANA runs on SAP’s HANA in-memory database, analytics is one of the platform’s most typical and tangible values,” explains Kenny Vanleeuwen, S/4 Embedded Analytics lead. “Moreover, SAP S/4HANA started out as a finance business suite – so the platform is jam-packed with features that support finance teams. In this way, it helps CFOs to make day-to-day decisions based on the very latest data in the blink of an eye. No other enterprise solution can do that!”

Insight to action

As SAP S/4HANA is all about simplicity, everyone in the finance team can easily specify which figures they need in their roles and configure their launchpads, i.e. their home page. “As soon as they log in to the system, users get a customized overview of the business performance at a glance. With just one click, they can then dig deeper to see more details and immediately take action – like sending out a reminder when they notice that a payment is overdue, for example,” explains Gaëtan Noe, SAP FICO consultant. 

“That ‘action’ is truly unique,” he continues. “Just like the managed-by-exception approach: instead of skimming through loads of data to identify irregularities or inconsistencies, users immediately spot exceptions in their home page, as these are highlighted – so they immediately know what to focus on. That saves finance teams a lot of time, which they can dedicate to more value-added tasks instead.”

Embedded analytics: two examples

SAP S/4HANA makes it easy to customize your launchpad with relevant KPIs and analytics. On top of that, the platform comes with a series of preconfigured Fiori apps: out-of-the-box analytics tools that provide better, clearer, and – importantly – real-time insights. Two great examples:

  • The Market Segments app enables you to evaluate the profitability of materials and customers. Based on data from across business units – sales, production, logistics, etc. –, the application generates a report that provides insight into the profitability of your materials and different market segments. Unlike most other embedded analytics app, the Market Segments app provides cross-domain insights.
  • The Supervised Collections Worklist app offers an overview of all open receivables for collection and the days they’re overdue. You can display a prioritized list of your most urgent customers (e.g. those with the highest overdue amounts or those whose amounts have been overdue for a long time) and supervise the progress of your collection specialists on a daily basis, manage their workloads, and redirect their efforts as required. 

Extra tooling: SAC dashboards and Analysis for Office

While embedded analytics are a great help for operational reporting, CFOs who want deeper strategic insights might want to complement their platform with extra tooling. “Embedded analytics includes basic graphs but no real dashboards that combine, for example, KPIs with bar charts and heatmaps in one overview,” Kenny explains. 

SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) does all that and much more. It offers extensive analytics and dashboarding capabilities for more accurate analysis. In addition, it integrates a planning module and predictive features. Gaetan: “Predictive analytics uses the power of AI/machine learning to identify patterns and relationships between data and make simulations, such as a model predicting when customers will pay their bills.”

“Customers like Ecuphar also appreciate SAP Analysis for Office, which comes with SAC,” Kenny adds. “The feature allows them to store their familiar Excel system on SAC so that they can open it from there and have SAP Analysis Office refresh the worksheets for them with real-time data.”

Modern data warehouse: the broadest, most advanced analytics capabilities

Finance teams looking for an extra layer of analytics capabilities on top of the embedded analytics and extra tooling can consolidate data from a variety of sources – SAP and non-SAP applications from across departments – in a modern data warehouse. 

“A data warehouse helps build a single version of the truth, allowing consistent analysis across the organization,” Gaëtan explains. “Because they allow the enrichment of transactional data with greater context – from CRM or HR applications, for example. –, enable historical comparisons and include machine-learning capabilities, data warehouses offer the ultimate in tactical and strategic analysis.” 

Supercharging your analytics approach with delaware best practices

Not sure where to start on your journey to operational and management analytics? Based on years of experience, delaware has developed a decision matrix to help you select the right approach. 

In addition, we’ve bundled our experience and expertise in FAST-BI: a preconfigured, out-of-the-box solution that combines live data replication and predefined data models in SAP S/4HANA with state-of-the-art dashboards and self-analytics in SAC. “It’s an ideal way for CFOs to kickstart their analytics journey in SAP S/4HANA and gather the insights they need to provide operational as well as strategic reporting,” Kenny concludes.

Interested in ramping up your analytics capabilities? Get in touch with our finance experts!

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