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Misuse Detection in SAP Systems

How to Ensure the Integrity and Confidentiality of Your Data

Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) is a top financial concern for SAP customers, according to a recent SAPinsider benchmark report, “SAP S/4HANA Finance: State of the Market,” where more than 400 individuals across all lines of business from nearly 150 companies were surveyed regarding their strategy for SAP S/4HANA Finance. However, many organizations are still relying on spreadsheets for budgeting, planning, forecasting, and reporting. This article reveals the top strategies SAP customers are prioritizing in the area of FP&A and where they are making significant investments in finance over the next year. And SAP experts share insights into the importance of real-time planning and modern reporting strategies.

News of note for SAP customers from SAP and its partners.

China represents an compelling opportunity for those in the supply chain market — for example, China's Made in China 2025 initiative is mobilizing Chinese manufacturers to move to higher value capabilities and products with smarter manufacturing. So what does this mean for SAP and its customers? This article looks at the SCM opportunities and challenges facing SAP and its customers in China, and provides strategic guidance for navigating them.

Access the latest insights from SAPinsider in this digital edition of the magazine, which includes case studies of companies using SAP technology to improve their business outcomes, such as Columbia Sportswear's use of automation and SAP Apparel and Footwear to modernize its operations; best practices, such as key considerations for migrating to SAP S/4HANA Finance; expert insights, such as advice on establishing a security patching framework for your critical SAP systems; and technical columns that provide deep-dive expertise, such as guidance on key new features for developers in SAP Cloud Platform ABAP environment.

Access the latest insights from SAPinsider in this digital edition of the magazine, which includes case studies of companies using SAP technology to improve their business outcomes; best practices; expert insights; and technical columns that provide deep-dive expertise. Gain key tips for SAP customers assessing a move to the cloud. Discover insights from New SAP SuccessFactors Head of Product Meg Bear on How HR can reinvent work experiences and accelerate business growth. Understand SAP and the Circular Economy, on how SAP customers can achieve a zero-waste value network and reap financial benefits, and much more. 

As data quickly becomes the most valuable asset a company can own, the reliability and security of that information also becomes essential. And while many companies focus on thwarting outside threats to security, they should be casting an internal eye on potential data misuse from employees. Learn how several SAP solutions address security issues for the digital age and how supplementing your security strategy with complementary offerings can help you track and monitor employee usage of sensitive data to eliminate fraud. 

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Improve the Auditability of Your SAP S/4HANA for Central Finance Foundation Solution

Use the Real-Time Reconciliation Reports in SAP S/4HANA 1709 Enterprise Management

SAP S/4HANA for Central Finance foundation (Central Finance) is the least disruptive deployment option for SAP S/4HANA adoption in finance, especially for enterprises with a heterogeneous landscape consisting of multiple SAP and non-SAP finance transactional systems. Figure 1 provides a high-level overview of Central Finance in SAP S/4HANA along with its architecture.

Figure 1 — Central Finance architecture overview

Existing SAP or non-SAP finance transactional systems are untouched, and all financial postings — Financial Accounting (FI) and Managerial Accounting (CO) documents — in these systems are replicated in real time to the SAP S/4HANA-based Central Finance system. Three types of objects are replicated:

  • FI postings (e.g., general ledger [G/L] postings and vendor and customer postings)
  • CO-only postings made on secondary cost elements (e.g., manual reposting of costs, activity allocation, cost center assessment, and Profitability Analysis [CO-PA] assessment)
  • Cost objects such as internal orders, production orders, and work breakdown structure (WBS) elements

The SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server is used to collect data written to databases in the source systems. It feeds this data into the corresponding Central Finance accounting interface for three objects: FI postings, CO-only postings, and cost objects.

Business mapping functionality in the Central Finance system leveraging SAP Master Data Governance (MDG) is used to define a relationship between the identifier or code used in the source system for master data and customizing objects, with the identifier or code used in the Central Finance system. For example, cost center A in the source system is mapped to cost center B in the target system. Similarly, company code A in the source system is mapped to company code B in the target system.

SAP Application Interface Framework (AIF) installed in the Central Finance system is used for error analysis and correction of the documents replicated from source systems but not posted in the target Central Finance system.

For a detailed, step-by-step process for setting up Central Finance in SAP S/4HANA, click here. You can also refer to Central Finance FAQ Note 2184567.

Error Handling and Reconciliation in Central Finance

Since the primary use cases for Central Finance are for centralized financial reporting, real-time comparison reports between source systems and the Central Finance system are key to ensuring auditability and traceability of the documents and balances for internal stakeholders as well as external auditors. In this blog I provide an overview of how to accelerate this reconciliation process using the Central Finance comparison reports in combination with SAP AIF available with SAP S/4HANA 1709. Primarily, there are three levels of analysis done for comparison of the FI and CO documents replicated from source systems to Central Finance in these comparison reports:

• Level One: A comparison between FI and CO documents posted in the source system with Central Finance to check whether all relevant FI and CO documents have been replicated in Central Finance. This check is based on the number of documents in the source and Central Finance.

• Level Two: A comparison of the G/L balances for FI postings and cost element balances for secondary CO postings between source systems and Central Finance. This check is based on the balance per G/L account and cost element in the source and Central Finance.

• Level Three: A comparison of line items of FI and CO documents for G/L accounts in source system and Central Finance. This check is based on the amount for line items of each document and G/L account in source and Central Finance.
For an overview of these reports with transaction code and purpose, click here.

These comparison reports are available out of the box with the setup of Central Finance in SAP S/4HANA 1709, and no separate setup steps are required. However, for lower versions than SAP S/4HANA 1709 or for SAP S/4HANA Finance 1605, refer to SAP Note 2352483, which provides an overview of SAP Notes that are required to implement these comparison reports. I explain the three-level analysis that can be done for reconciliation using the comparison reports for FI documents and balances. The same logic can be applied for performing the reconciliation process for CO documents and balances.

Level-One Analysis

With this report you can do a technical reconciliation of documents between source and Central Finance systems to understand how many documents have been correctly replicated from the source system to the Central Finance system. To begin the level-one analysis, execute transaction code FINS_CFIN_DFV_FI_NUM to display the screen shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2 — Enter a value for the source system and other selection parameters

In the Source System field you must enter the logical system name of the source system maintained in IMG menu path Financial Accounting > Central Finance > General Settings > Define Logical System for Source and Central Finance systems in the Central Finance system. Only one source system at a time can be used in a report for comparison. All other parameters in the selection screen relate to the source system as shown in Figure 2.

Based on selection parameters the report selects FI documents from source system document header table BKPF and compares them with documents replicated in Central Finance from table BKPF. The document number of source system FI document is also stored in header field BKPF-BELNR_SENDER in the replicated document in Central Finance and is used as a basis for comparison. As shown in Figure 3, when the report is executed, the system displays the comparison based on five categories:

Figure 3 — Comparison categories overview for FI document headers

1. In Source System: This category shows you the number of documents that are posted in the source system for the criteria entered in Figure 2. In my example, the number is 348. No action is required on these from a reconciliation perspective.

2. In Central Finance System: This category shows you the number of documents that are posted in the Central Finance system for the corresponding documents in the source system. In my example, the number is 197. You can also click the display item details icon (shown in the third column of Figure 3) to drill down to list the replicated document numbers with corresponding source documents and amounts. Again, no action is required on these reports from a reconciliation perspective.

3. In AIF With Errors: This category informs you about the source system documents that have not been posted in Central Finance and are stuck with errors in AIF. This could be due to reasons such as missing business mapping or missing or incorrect configuration in Central Finance. In my example, this total is 129. These documents are the ones to be investigated and corrected. By clicking the execute icon shown in the third row and fourth column of Figure 3, you can view the errors with reasons. You also can display each individual document only in AIF by clicking the display details icon first and then clicking the execute icon under the Display Documents in AIF column for each individual document in the rows shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4 — Financial documents with error in AIF

After you click the execute icon in the Display Documents in AIF column for an individual document, you can view the error details in AIF in the Log Messages section of the next screen (Figure 5) along with details of the accounting document posting data from the source system. After you correct the errors by maintaining the missing mapping or configuration, you can restart the message in AIF by clicking the execute icon highlighted in Figure 5. The document is then moved to a category named “In Central Finance system” if it is successfully posted in Central Finance.

Figure 5 — AIF error handling and correction

4. In AIF Without Errors: This category shows you the source system documents that are transferred, but that should not be posted in Central Finance. Examples are cancelled documents owing to duplicates resulting from parallel job processing and foreign currency valuation postings for a currency type not set up in Central Finance.

5. Document not in Central Finance: This category shows you the source system documents that are neither posted in Central Finance nor found in AIF. Examples include jobs in the Landscape Transformation Replication Server system for replication that are not running, a system that has crashed, and a company code that is not active in replication in the source system configuration. In such cases after you identify and correct the root cause in the source system configuration or the Landscape Transformation Replication Server system, these documents need to be replicated from the source to Central Finance.

Level-Two Analysis

After the level-one analysis has been done and the missing documents have been identified and corrected, level-two analysis can be done for comparison of G/L balances between the source and target systems with this report for identification and correction of differences if any. To begin the level-two analysis, execute transaction code FINS_CFIN_DFV_FI_BALANCE to display the screen shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6 — Enter the selection parameters for comparison of FI balances

For the criteria specified, this report extracts the G/L balances from the totals tables in source systems (GLT0 for the classic G/L and FALGLFLEXT for the SAP General Ledger) and compares them by summing up the values for the corresponding entries in Central Finance in table ACDOCA. If the source system is on the classic G/L and no ledger is specified, then the comparison of balances is done with the leading ledger in the Central Finance system. The comparison can be done in company code currency, or if the company code currencies are different, then the comparison can be done in transaction currency. Note also that activating the Show Errors Only check box shown in Figure 6 instructs the system to display only the G/L account balances with differences in the report.

As shown in Figure 7, the report shows the details of source G/L accounts with debit totals, credit totals, and balances compared against the target G/L account with the same details.
The difference amounts are shown in the balance of source and target with a description of the reason for difference, primarily into these two categories:

Figure 7 — Details of source and target G/L account balances with differences

  • Different totals: G/L balances are different between the source and target. This difference could be the result of not having all the source accounting documents transferred to Central Finance. These are shown in red. To drill down to individual documents causing the difference, double-click the relevant line item in the report. Based on further analysis of the error in AIF for the relevant document, you can make corrections if they are not done already as part of level-one analysis.
  • Balances match. Documents missing in target: This is also shown in red in the report. In this case the balances match for G/L accounts, but accounting documents are missing in Central Finance. The possible reason could be if the debit and credit G/L accounts are the same in the posting in source system resulting in zero impact on the G/L balance, but the document is not replicated in Central Finance for some reason. This can also be analyzed further by double-clicking the relevant line item in the report and carrying out further analysis in AIF if required.
Level-Three Analysis

After the level-one and level-two analyses have been done for reconciliation of documents and G/L balances, you can execute this report to do the comparison of debit and credit amounts of each line item for selected G/L accounts between source and Central Finance systems.

To begin the level-three analysis, execute transaction code FINS_CFIN_DFV_FI_DOC to display the screen shown in Figure 8.

Figure 8 — Enter the selection parameters for comparison of FI line items

For the criteria specified, this report extracts the line-item details from the BSEG and BKPF tables in the source systems and compares them with entries in the ACDOCA table in Central Finance. The comparison can be done in company code currency, or if the company code currencies are different, then the comparison can be done in transaction currency. Again, note that activating the Show Errors Only check box, as shown in Figure 8, instructs the system to display only the G/L account line items with differences in the report, as shown in Figure 9.

Figure 9 — G/L account line item with differences in source systems versus entries in Central Finance

As shown in Figure 9, for each source document and G/L account the report shows a comparison of each of the debit and credit line item amounts with corresponding debit and credit line items in the Central Finance system. The differences are shown in red with a description and are primarily categorized into three areas:

• Documents not in Central Finance: The source system documents are not replicated in Central Finance and therefore are also not visible in AIF. Most of these errors should already be resolved in the level-one analysis of document headers with report FINS_CFIN_DFV_FI_NUM. Some of the reasons could be that jobs in the Landscape Transformation Replication Server for replication are not running, that the system has crashed, or that the company code is not active in replication in the source system configuration.

• In AIF With Errors: The source system document has been replicated to Central Finance, but is not posted and is stuck with an error in AIF. Possible reasons could be missing business mapping or missing or incorrect configuration in the Central Finance system. Most of these errors should also already have been resolved in the level-one analysis of document headers with report FINS_CFIN_DFV_FI_NUM.

• Reference to sender document not unique: The same source system document number reference is available in more than one document posted in Central Finance. Possible reasons could be duplicate posting in Central Finance for the same source document due to parallel processing jobs. One of the documents in Central Finance needs to be cancelled in this case
Similar level-three analysis for reconciliation can also be done for CO documents, line items, and balances between the source system and Central Finance using the CO reconciliation reports.

Tips

Here are four tips to consider:

1. All these reconciliation reports for Central Finance are based on documents posted in the source system. Therefore, if a document is posted in Central Finance directly and not replicated from the source system, it is not captured in these reconciliation reports. However, such postings can be easily identified from GL Account Line Item Display (transaction code FBL3H) or document list (transaction code FB03) in the Central Finance system since the field Sender Document Number (BKPF-BELNR_SENDER) will be blank for such postings.

2. It is better to restrict the selection criteria in a report for improved performance and to have better control on resolution of errors for reconciliation.

3. To enhance the logic for the reconciliation reports Business Add-In (BAdI): Enhance Processing and Output of Reconciliation Reports (BAdI_FINS_CFIN_DFV) is available under IMG menu path Financial Accounting > Central Finance > BAdIs: Central Finance.

4. The reconciliation reports for comparison of FI and CO document headers can also be monitored automatically through Business Process Monitoring (BPMON) functionality in SAP Solution Manager, with automated alerts and notifications. Refer to the Central Finance administrators guide for more details.




Accelerate Your Finance Shared Services Transformation and Centralized Reporting

SAP S/4HANA 1709 Offers New Features for SAP S/4HANA for Central Finance Foundation

New features have been introduced in SAP S/4HANA 1709 that enable enterprises to leverage the benefits of shared services for certain financial processes along with added reporting flexibilities. In this blog, I provide a quick overview of the innovations in SAP S/4HANA 1709 along with some key considerations and limitations while implementing them. I focus on three features:

  • Central payments
  • Central tax check and reporting
  • The Profitability Analysis (CO-PA) replication tool for central profitability reporting

Central Payments

With this feature the vendor and customer open items and invoices replicated from source systems can be paid or cleared centrally in SAP S/4HANA for central finance foundation (Central Finance). The open items are technically cleared in the source system immediately once they are replicated to Central Finance, to avoid duplicate payments in the source and Central Finance systems.

The activation of the Central Payments functionality is done for each source system company code. Figure 1 shows a vendor invoice posted in a source system for a company code for which the Central Payments feature is activated in Central Finance. To post this vendor invoice, execute transaction code FB60 or follow menu path Accounting > Financial Accounting > Accounts Payable > Document entry > Invoice. Note that the Clrng doc. (clearing document number) field (BSEG-AUGBL) is filled with the value ALE-extern in the source system automatically during replication of this document to Central Finance, representing technical clearing. The open item can then be paid or cleared only in the Central Finance system.

Figure 1 — Open item technically cleared in the source system with Central Payments

With Central Payments functionality, enterprises with a distributed landscape can centralize the payment, receivables, and payables monitoring processes to leverage the benefits of shared services. Additionally, if SAP Bank Communication Management and SAP In-House Cash functionalities are implemented in the Central Finance system, Central Payments can integrate with these functions for improved working capital management.

To activate the central payment functionality, you need to maintain a customizing table in IMG menu path Financial Accounting > Central Finance > Central Payment > Activate Central Payment for company code. As shown in Figure 2 you need to populate the fields under the Logical sys… (logical system) and Source Co… (source company code) columns. In the Scope column, you select Central Payment with VAT Configuration Check Active. However, it is important to note that before maintaining this customizing, the steps for activation of Central Payments functionality as listed in SAP Note 2346233 need to be followed in sequence.

Figure 2 —  Activate Central Payments functionality for a company code

Here are some of the key points for you to consider before deciding on activation of Central Payments functionality in a Central Finance system company code:

  1. Certain period-end closing transactions (e.g., foreign currency valuation) for a Central-Payments-activated company code need to be done in both the source system and the Central Finance system.
  2. Full balance sheet and profit and loss (P&L) for reporting are only available from the Central Finance system.
  3. All value-added tax (VAT) and withholding tax reporting, including deferred tax reporting, can only be done from the Central Finance system. However, there are limitations to the reports that are available from Central Finance that need to be considered. SAP Note 2509047 provides details on these limitations.
  4. Since the central payment documents are not replicated back to the source system, the actual clearing status of open items is not available in the source for any customer and vendor reports.
  5. Since there is no sales and purchase order information passed to the Central Finance system, down payment requests with references to sales or purchase orders cannot be posted in the Central Finance system. Also refer to SAP Note 2346233 for a detailed list of restrictions with central payment functionality and steps to activate this functionality.

Central Tax Check and Reporting

With SAP S/4HANA 1709, two new tax checks are available to facilitate centralized tax reporting from the Central Finance system:

  • Tax customizing consistency check
  • Tax Recalculation Check

With activation of Central Payments functionality, it is also mandatory to activate these checks for the relevant company codes since tax reporting is done from the Central Finance system.

The Tax Customizing Consistency Check

The tax customizing consistency check ensures that tax-related customizing in the source and Central Finance systems is consistent by replication of key tax-related customizing tables from the source to Central Finance system through the SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 — Architecture for central tax checks with Central Finance

The tax customizing tables shown in Figure 3 are replicated through the SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server from the source system to the Central Finance system. The replicated tables in the Central Finance system can be seen prefixed with FINS_CFIN. During replication of any financial postings from the source system to the Central Finance system, the entries in these replicated tables (FINS_CFIN..) in Central Finance are compared with corresponding tax customizing table entries in Central Finance, after considering the mapping maintained in Central Finance. If any tables entries are missing then an error message is displayed and the posting is blocked in the SAP Application Interface Framework (AIF). Here are some examples of these types of errors:

  • The Not deductible indicator does not match in the source and target systems.
  • The activation status of plants abroad does not match in the source and target systems.
  • The EU country indicator does not match in the source and target systems.

Refer to SAP Note 2494127 for detailed descriptions of the tax customizing tables involved and steps to set up the SAP Landscape Transformation Replication Server for replication of these tables.

The Tax Recalculation Check

The Tax recalculation check compares the tax posting values replicated with the financial postings from the source system with the calculated tax values based on the configuration in the Central Finance system. If there are any differences exceeding the threshold defined, then an error message is displayed, and the posting is blocked in AIF in Central Finance. To set up two key prerequisites for this check, execute transaction code FTXP or follow IMG menu path Financial Accounting (New) > Financial Accounting Global Settings > Tax on Sales/Purchases >Calculation > Define Tax Codes for Sales and Purchases. This path displays the screen shown in Figure 4. The two prerequisites are:

  • The CheckID indicator should be active in relevant tax codes in transaction FTXP (field T007A-PRUEF=X)
  • The Tol.per.rate (tolerance percentage rate) field should be zero (T007A-TOLERANCE) wherever possible. Check SAP Notes 943614 and 956637.

Figure 4 — Maintain tax code prerequisites for activating a tax recalculation check

To activate both of these tax checks for centralized tax reporting in the Central Finance system, the activation for the relevant source system and company code needs to be done in the Central Finance system. To complete this step follow IMG menu path Financial Accounting > Central Finance > General Settings > Activate VAT Configuration check for company codes. This menu takes you to the screen shown in Figure 5. Enter the name of the source system in the Logical sys…(Logical system) field and the source system’s company code in the Src CoCode (Source company code) field. Select the VAT Configuration Check Active option in the Scope column as shown in Figure 5. For the company codes for which Central Payment functionality is also activated as explained in the “Central Payments” section, an entry is automatically seen in this configuration node with the value Central Payment with VAT Configuration Check Active in the Scope column. This is because activation of VAT configuration check is mandatory for the company codes for which the Central Payments feature is activated.

Figure 5 — Activate VAT configuration check for company code

Here are some key points to consider before deciding on activation of central tax checks and reporting in Central Finance:

  1. It is mandatory to activate this check for the relevant source system company code for which central payment functionality is activated in the Central Finance system. For others it is optional.
  2. The Advanced Compliance Reporting solution in SAP S/4HANA can be leveraged in Central Finance for country-specific tax reporting. However, not all VAT reports and countries are supported for centralized tax reporting in Central Finance. Refer to SAP Note 2509047 for the restrictions on centralized tax reporting from Central Finance for each of the core tax reports.
  3. Tax reporting, including that for deferred tax for the period of the initial load in the Central Finance system during which only balances and open items are loaded, cannot be done in the Central Finance system. This is because the line-item details are not available in Central Finance for this period, and therefore, relevant information for tax reporting is also missing in the Central Finance system.
  4. If an external tax calculation system is used for tax calculation in the source system, then the same external tax calculation system should be used in the Central Finance system.

The CO-PA Replication Tool for Central Profitability Reporting

A replication of costing-based CO-PA in the source system to account-based CO-PA in the Universal Journal in the Central Finance system is not supported out of the box in SAP S/4HANA. Since most enterprises have been using costing-based CO-PA for many years in their source systems, it is a challenge for them in Central Finance to achieve central profitability reporting. However, in S/4HANA 1709 a custom replication tool set has been provided to enable this replication from costing-based CO-PA to account-based CO-PA in the Universal Journal.

Costing-based CO-PA is a form of profitability analysis in which costs and revenues are grouped based on value fields and costing-based valuation approaches in separate persistence tables (CE1XXXX). Account-based CO-PA is a form of profitability analysis in which costs and revenues are stored in general ledger (G/L) accounts. CO-PA in the Universal Journal refers to a new form of CO-PA that is available with SAP S/4HANA and is technically based on account-based CO-PA. Profitability characteristics and the G/L accounts are stored directly in the line item in the Universal Journal in this solution. Both costing-based CO-PA and CO-PA in the Universal Journal are supported in SAP S/4HANA; however, no further developments are planned by SAP on costing- based CO-PA in the future.

With this functionality characteristics and value fields in the source system can be mapped to characteristics and value fields in the Central Finance system. During the replication of CO-PA documents from the source system, the Central Finance system determines the value of each characteristic or value field of a document based on the corresponding field in the source document and the mapping configured.

To maintain the mapping follow IMG menu path Financial Accounting > Central Finance > Mapping > COPA Mapping > Define COPA mapping. This path takes you to the screen in Figure 6. The mapping can be maintained for each combination of source operating concern and Central Finance operating concern. Also, many operating concerns in the source system can also be mapped to a single operating concern in Central Finance. If changes have been made in any of the characteristics or value fields in the source system or the Central Finance system, then click the Sync Structure button to update the mappings to reflect these changes.

Figure 6 — Maintain the CO-PA mapping table for costing-based CO-PA replication to the Central Finance

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Replication from costing-based CO-PA in the source system to costing-based CO-PA in Central Finance is not supported. Replication from account-based CO-PA in the source system to costing-based CO-PA in Central Finance is also not supported.
  2. Note that the mapping only determines the corresponding characteristics to be fed in the Universal Journal in the Central Finance system when Financial Accounting (FI) or Controlling (CO) posting are replicated, from costing-based CO-PA in the source system. The values for characteristics itself are derived from the CO-PA derivation rules maintained after executing transaction code KEDR in the Central Finance system as part of standard CO-PA derivation rules.
  3. Costing-based CO-PA postings from settlement to CO-PA (transaction code KOAO), assessment to CO-PA (transaction code KSPA), and Actual Inverse Activity allocation (transaction code RKIL) can be converted to CO-PA in the Universal Journal in the Central Finance.
  4. Postings made only in costing-based CO-PA and not in FI or CO in the source system such as top-down distribution in CO-PA are not supported for replication to the Central Finance system.

Besides the three key innovations above, here is a quick overview of other innovations introduced with SAP S/4HANA 1709 for the Central Finance solution. For more details with a step-by-step process for setup of these functionalities, refer to the Central Finance configuration guide.

(EC-PCA) Replication: In many of the source systems classic profit center accounting (EC-PCA) is active. Postings that happen in FI or CO in the source systems if they carry a profit center in line items are replicated in Central Finance and updated with profit center details in the Universal Journal. However, postings that happen only in EC-PCA in source systems — for example, manual postings (transaction codes 9KE0 and 1KEL) and allocations (transaction codes 4KE5 and 3KE5) — were not replicated in the Central Finance system. With SAP S/4HANA 1709, even these postings can be replicated in Central Finance through SAP Landscape Transformation. Similar to FI and CO documents replication, AIF is used for error handling and correction while the business mapping functionality is used with Master Data Governance (MDG) for replication of these EC-PCA documents. In the Central Finance system these EC-PCA-only postings from source systems are replicated as FI documents in the Universal Journal, with the details of original EC-PCA documents from the source system in reference field (BKPF-AWTYP, AWSYS) of the Central Finance document. Additionally, a dedicated ledger group and document type can be defined in Central Finance for these postings. For one-sided EC-PCA documents a G/L account for offsetting lines needed to balance the document to zero can be defined.

Central Commitment reporting: With this functionality commitments and updates are replicated to the Central Finance for these scenarios:

  • Replication of commitment and updates from purchase requisitions or purchase orders in source systems
  • Replication of a commitment update from goods receipt and invoice receipts in source systems

This functionality can facilitate centralized commitment reporting from the Central Finance system only for the above scenarios. The initial load of commitments is also supported, and an initial load preparation report is provided to simulate commitment posting for an existing purchase requisition (PR) or PO. The architecture for the commitment replication is shown in Figure 7. In the source system the commitments are updated in a persistence table based on PO and PR tables EKPR and EKBP. From the persistence tables the commitments are replicated through SAP Landscape Transformation Replication server to Central Finance. The error handling is handled in AIF and the business mappings in MDG in Central Finance. Finally the commitment posting is done in Central Finance, which updates the old commitment line items table COOI as well as the Universal Journal in table ACDOCA.

Figure 7 — Architecture for replication of commitment items in Central Finance

Since this functionality is only available from SAP S/4HANA 1709 FPS01, a downport is available with SAP Note 2554827for enterprises on SAP S/4HANA 1709 FPS00.

Central Projects and work breakdown structure (WBS) reporting: With this functionality in SAP S/4HANA 1709 project definitions and WBS elements (transaction codes CJ01 and CJ11) can be replicated from source systems to Central Finance. The FI and CO postings that are replicated from source systems to Central Finance can carry this information that can enable centralized projects reporting from Central Finance. Also, any changes made to project definitions and WBS elements can be replicated. Application Link Enabling (ALE) is used for replication through Intermediate Documents (IDocs) for initial load as well as subsequent replications for project definitions and WBS elements. Error handling is done through AIF, while business mapping is done through MDG in Central Finance.

Report FINS_Central Finance_PS_CHECK can be used for checking the configuration between source systems and Central Finance systems before starting replication

Enterprises that want to implement this functionality in Central Finance should note that it supports only project costs and revenue reporting in Central Finance for postings originating from source systems.

However, other project-based functionalities such as planning, budgeting, settlement, and results analysis can take place only in source systems because all the related logistics data for these processes is in source systems and not replicated to Central Finance.

SAP S/4HANA public cloud integration: If the source system is on an SAP S/4HANA public cloud, it can connect to SAP S/4HANA Central Finance On-premise through SAP Landscape Transformation for replication of FI documents along with AIF and business mapping functionality. However, key restrictions to be considered by enterprises are that there are no initial load functionalities and replication of CO postings and replication of cost objects from the source SAP S/4HANA public cloud system is not supported.

Configuration Consistency Check: A new report for checking the consistency of configuration between source systems and Central Finance systems is available through transaction code FINS_Central Finance_CC. This report enables you to check the customizing parameters between the source system and the Central Finance system along with master data settings before initial load and real-time replication. Some of the key checks between the source and Central Finance systems in the report include:

  • Currency checks:  Local currency of company code and accounts currency of G/L accounts
  • Document splitting Active/inactive check
  • G/L Account: Account type (Balance Sheet, P&L, Primary element), Account currency, and Open item management indicator
  • Various Value Added tax checks for fields in various customizing tables related to company code and tax code (e.g., country, country exchange rate type, plants abroad, tax jurisdiction code, VAT registration number, and tax category tax type)

The report does not cover a consistency check for all the configurations between the source system and the Central Finance system, but is limited to only a few. Manual analysis would still need to be performed for those checks that are not covered in this report.




Gain Business Insights from Highly Connected Data Through SAP HANA Graph

Data has been universally recognized as one of the most important pillars of the modern knowledge world. Big data technologies have changed the way data is stored and processed. Modern data visualization tools enable businesses to derive better insights from this data. Big data technologies and appliance-based database systems ensure optimized data storage and retrieval. New-age database systems enable the combination of multiple technologies or novel concepts to enable data storage and retrieval at fast speeds. However, the fact remains that the better the data, the better the insights.

The modern world is all about connectivity. Relationships add contextual meaning to data. How a particular shopper is connected to the things he or she buys is an example of connected data. Further information can be added to the subject to derive more insights into shopping behavior. Graph data models are best suited to analyze this kind of highly connected data. Graph databases are best suited for storage and processing of data that is connected by multiple relationships.

Though graph databases have been in existence since the 1960s, they have found mainstream popularity only recently. The modern connectivity-based data world has revived interest in graph databases. SAP HANA incorporates a graph engine from SAP HANA 2.0.

What Is a Graph Database?

Traditional relational databases store data in structured formats across well-defined columns and tables. Relationships are created across these tables by joining columns across primary and foreign keys. For a query to generate insights, it has to pass through a search operation for data matching across the keys. Primary entities for a relational database are tables and columns. However, consider a situation in which numerous entities are connected creating multiple joins across entities and resulting in complex queries. As data increases, there is a drastic slowdown in queries, similar to what occurs when inserting, updating, or deleting entities. When you receive data from numerous connected sources, the process of searching and updating is time-consuming and tedious.

The solution to this complexity is a graph database.

A graph database engine models data as entities and relationships (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graph_database). These data entities are called nodes, and the relationships between them are called edges. Entities hold data, while the edges define how these data points are related. Properties add information that is more relevant to the entities.

Figure 1 is an example of graph storage.

Figure 1 — Graph storage of data using entitities and relationships

The resulting data model is simpler, and query searches are faster. Since each node holds data with relationships to other nodes, completing updates is also faster than using relational databases for the same process.



SAP HANA Graph Capabilities

SAP HANA 2.0 uses a novel approach to enable processing of graph data (https://blogs.saphana.com/2015/06/16/new-sap-hana-sps10/). This enables relational data to be stored as tables, but to be processed as a graph on the basis of relationships (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236178288). Since SAP HANA supports both row- and column-based storage, building relationships across tables is more convenient than typical relational databases. SAP HANA also supports multiple processing engines in addition to graph, such as text, search, and spatial engines, which enables a combination of data processing capabilities across engines (https://help.sap.com/hana/SAP_HANA_Graph_Reference_en.pdf).

Figure 2 shows the general architecture.

Figure 2 — SAP HANA capabilities

Some of the benefits of SAP HANA graph processing capabilities are:

  • Performance: Since graphs inherently store information as entities and relationships, searching between tables and joins is reduced considerably. For highly connected data, relational databases falter for a large number of joins. This also causes the Structured Query Language (SQL) to be complicated. When data has to be accessed across multiple tables, the SQL formed in a relational database would be joined to that many tables. For example, if information is stored across 10 different tables, the SQL scans across these tables to join the right values and then present the solution. This hampers the performance of the query both in terms of time consumed and resources used. However, since the graph database stores data as relationships, having a large number of joins does not pose a problem.
  • Flexibility: Since data is stored as entities in nodes, it is much easier to find and manipulate data. This also allows for data searches to be contextual, not just value oriented. The graph engine works in parallel with other processing engines, such as engines used for spatial and text analysis. You can analyze graphs with a familiar relational structure.
  • Better insights: Since data entities are connected to relative bits of data across the storage, queries are more contextual and bring up better insights into relationships between data nodes. The SAP HANA graph engine’s built-in algorithms, such as neighborhood search and pattern matching, can be used to build better insights into the data. The SAP HANA graph visualization toolkit provides additional capabilities for building deeper insights into the data.

Though graph processing can be used extensively for highly connected data, some additional typical use cases are:

  • Fraud detection. Easy access to information over the internet has enabled fraudsters to be more creative with their methods. They rely on stolen identities, usernames, and passwords across continents to cheat individuals across the globe. Traditional fraud detection engines rely on individual data entities to trace fraudulent activities and predict future attacks. However, fraudsters seldom stick to single individuals. Rather they may take on the identities of multiple individuals across geographies. Graph data processing inherently creates relationships across entities and enables you to find hidden relationships across these data points. This enables far more effective fraud detection and prevention.
  • Retail recommendation engine that makes recommendations of products for retail customers. With multiple channel sales and cashless payments, today’s retail world is in itself a mesh of individuals, accounts, and payment information. Based on preferences shown during shopping history, an SAP HANA graph can build relationships between an individual and shopping habits to predict shopping behavior.
  • Logistics and distribution. Connected fleet data can be merged with route and warehouse data to come up with efficient relationships between deliveries and distributions. The SAP HANA graph engine can pick up this data from SAP ERP or the underlying data lake and come up with the best routes for efficient distribution.




GDPR Action Plan: Discover, Manage, Protect and Report

Matthew Shea    On May 25th, 2018, the European Union began enforcing the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to protect customer privacy and data. GDPR adherence requirements apply to any organization in any country, inside or outside the EU, that handles or processes EU residents’ personal data. In the wake of GDPR, organizations should reconsider their…...

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Take Advantage of Underutilized Functionality to Streamline Payroll Processes

Q&A with Dolphin Experts on Crafting a Successful Information Management Strategy

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