All I Want for 2015 is a Lean & Mean Central Journal HANA Machine

It’s a time of New Year resolutions involving a desire to shed those redundant kilos, so why not apply this to our enterprises systems? There are some great blogs already dealing with predictions for 2015 (John Appleby and Steve Lucas), and I would like to add one more. That prediction is the uptake of Sfin and Central Journal on HANA.

What am I basing that prediction on? Well, the following:

So what I have, is probably a common scenario faced by customers, namely a mixed ECC landscape spread across the world and probably not as harmonized/converged as we would like. There is a mix of configurations, releases, SP levels, classic ledgers, new GL, business areas, controlling areas…etc. We also have HANA side cars for various finance processes, and of course have an interest in exploring a scenario of having ECC in memory and a desire to explore new functions being released i.e. Sfin.

Now, some may disagree, but jumping straight to ECC on HANA in a complex system landscape is not perceived as simple. However, there is another way, and this is what I will try to focus on and share some experiences thus far (at the time of writing, this is based on a PoC as opposed to a productive deployment).

The building block for the ‘bridge’ to finance nirvana is Central Journal (the name does it a disservice). This has been around for quite a while and facilitates the merging of finance data from several sources into a target central instance. Nothing mind blowing here. It starts to get interesting where the target is on the latest and greatest kit/software release, and hosts the new functions that can only run on HANA i.e. SFin. What makes it even more attractive is that the Central Journal instance can be hosted on premise, or in a cloud environment, and can receive data from source in near real time…if you have read this far then you will be happy to know that we now get to the fun stuff.

So, let me first outline as to what we are testing and the landscape that was put in place to facilitate our exploration.

  • We are dealing with two ECC source systems, each based in a separate geographical data center.
  • Our target instance (central journal) is off-premise in a 3rd party data center.
  • Data provisioning performed by an SLT running DMIS 2011 SP07.
  • SLT is connected to both source systems but closely coupled with one of the source systems.
  • SLT provisions the target system through a VPN connection.

 

landscape

This gives us a nice test bed to check cross data center replication and data provisioning to a ‘cloud like’ target system. We are also using infrastructure that is already in place, so the only real addition is the central journal instance.

So what’s the effort involved and how ‘invasive’ is the setup? Well, to be honest, simpler that one might think.

  • The source systems are not touched, well not in a bad way as they do need the DMIS component installed, but this is already in place for the side cars (an upgrade to DMIS 2011 SP7 makes life a lot easier).
  • No real risk to existing source systems…business runs as normal.
  • SLT configuration/mapping functions have to be set up.
  • VPN connectivity, but this was driven by how we run the PoC.

The SLT setup a tad trickier but will get simpler. For those familiar with SLT data provisioning, the key difference is that we do not replicate the table and its contents, but rather move the contents to the accounting interface where a brand new document is created. The good news is that the mapping caters for referencing to source data so links to original documents/master data can be achieved. The ECS (Error Correction System) in the target system also makes the tracking and auditing of data transfers a lot easier.

There is of course some effort involved in the functional setup of the target system as in effect we are going into a Greenfield site, but this is where the unexpected opportunities start to appear! I can now start to ‘converge’ my finance configuration, master data, org structures and process. Not all of it, but a significant part.

I have the opportunity to:

  • Create a ‘global’ Sfin system based on real time data flow from  regional ECC systems which do not meet the Sfin pre-requisites.
  • move to New GL functions and structures,
  • create common chart of accounts (Group, standard and country) and satisfy various reporting levels.
  • move to a single controlling area and operating concern.
  • Prepare for utilizing Sfin features around COPA and reconciliation (Account based COPA maybe?)
  • Simplify cost center/profit center hierarchies and master data.
  • Consolidate financial statement versions into a common version.
  • Configure global intercompany reconciliation across regional source systems
  • …etc.

This is an exciting prospect for the “if we could only start again” dilemma that many of us must have asked but never realized due to the effort and perceived disruption. I have not even touched on the new functions delivered by Sfin and hope to do that on the next blog, but the sheer opportunities offered by Central Journal on HANA are already becoming evident, such as:

  • being able to run P&L, Balance sheet, Line Item browsers across regions and under simplified and converged structures.
  • Single controlling area and standard hierarchy with Profit Center active and used under a standard/common.
  • Total view of GRIR and by trading partner, with very quick analysis.
  • HANA Live content running against consolidated regions.
  • The ability to run Intercompany Reconciliation as a singe screen transaction (no more batch jobs) across the regions is a business case in itself!
  • The MySpend Fiori app is also a thing of great beauty when one is able to link regional cost centers to a group and visualize the output on any device…marketing speak it is, but it does work and open opportunities!
  • ‘global’ operational reporting in finance/controlling in near real time
  • Potential to accelerate Finance close…
  • Quick implementation
  • No Gucci or Dior dress in sight

I will try and provide the outcome of Sfin specific results in another post, as the prospect of COPA on Sfin and the ‘single source of truth’ is something that is very exciting to me.

…to be continued

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