SAP S/4HANA Finance: State of the Market Benchmark Report

  Finance departments today face increasing demands to deliver real-time reporting and analysis from a broader array of sources on top of fulfilling their historical responsibilities. Whether this involves integrating data from multiple systems into one centralized platform in order to conduct that reporting, or streamlining operations to free up resources to perform these new...

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5 Things SAPinsiders Are Saying About Their Enterprise Security Strategy

SAP’s transition to an enterprise cloud company has changed the way SAP customers consider and implement their enterprise security strategy. The inclusion of SAP HANA-based systems adds further complexity to these considerations, particularly when these systems are running in hybrid or cloud-based environments. Organizations now need to find a way forward that doesn’t rely on existing physical and network security, and instead expands the security perimeter to include not only local systems, but also those that are running in cloud-based environments.

After speaking with many SAPinsiders, Robert Holland, Vice President of Research and Publishing at SAPinsider, summed up the results by saying that a successful security strategy must be “comprehensive, integrated, and part of the corporate culture.” A survey conducted earlier this year by SAPinsider asked members of our community several questions about their current enterprise security strategy. Holland will discuss these sentiments along with SAPinsider’s research on the topic during our live webinar, Impact of the Cloud and SAP HANA on Enterprise Security Strategy, occurring on Wednesday, May 6 at 2:00pm, US Eastern Time.

For now, here are five things SAPinsiders are saying:

  1. The biggest challenge is a lack of resources or expertise. “Many organizations simply do not have the resources to have a dedicated team focused on security of SAP solutions. Given the number of solutions many customers are running, and the fact that they may be running both locally and in hybrid or fully-cloud environments, it is often difficult to keep up just with the SAP Notes and patches that are recommended by either SAP or user group organizations,” Holland says.
  2. Any successful enterprise security strategy needs to be holistic. “With deployment models now including the cloud, a successful strategy needs to encompass physical security, system security, application security, and data security. It also needs to be integrated into day-to-day business activities and practices so that everyone within an organization understands why it is important,” Holland says.
  3. Integrating your security strategy with your business processes is essential. Holland says, “Nearly half the survey respondents indicated that they faced the challenge of security disrupting operations. If you want your security strategy to be effective it needs to be integrated with your business processes so it is seamless and non-disruptive to end users—or they will not use it.”
  4. Education is key. Holland notes that 46% of respondents indicated that they were seeing improved security awareness because of training and education programs that they were conducting. “End-users have to understand the security strategy if you want them to use it effectively.”
  5. Plan for a security strategy that includes the cloud. “In our past research, over 90% of SAPinsiders had at least looked at cloud-based solutions, and in this study 56% said that they were running at least one cloud-native solution. While everyone may not be running a cloud solution yet, there is a high likelihood that they will be doing so in the future and should plan for that accordingly,” Holland says.

During the live webinar, Holland will go into more detail about SAPinsider’s research into customers’ Enterprise Security Strategies. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions in real-time and gain a better understanding of:

  • What is driving Enterprise Security Strategy
  • What actions organizations are taking to those drivers
  • Key requirements and technologies
  • Recommendations to help your organization implement a successful security strategy

Business Continuity Track at SAPinsider Virtual Event Features Strategies and Quick Wins from SAP and Partners

By Brianna Shipley, Senior Editor, SAPinsider

Most businesses are prepared to handle certain types of inevitable—almost guaranteed—disruption, such as extreme weather conditions, technical failures, unplanned absences, security breaches, or incidents in supply chain. An event such as a widespread illness that requires a majority of the world’s workforce to work from home with entire industries put on hold, however, is not something that was in most companies’ forecasting capabilities.

The economic disruption caused by COVID-19 has impacted organizations at all levels of their operations, creating a unique environment that makes business continuity uncertain and challenging. To address this world-wide experience SAPinsider will host a special track with SAP and partners  at our 2020 virtual event to help businesses leverage SAP technology and best practices to not only maintain business continuity, but also thrive during this time.

“Sessions in this track, Business Continuity in Times of Economic Disruption, reflect the reality of where SAP customers are now; many are wondering what adjustments to make to their business to adapt and a big part of that lives within how they run their core processes in SAP,” Rizal Ahmed, Chief Content Officer at SAPinsider, says. Sessions in this track will address how companies can optimize the technology they already have to gain quick wins during these times of remote work and economic distress.

Working Remotely and Securely

A large part of the challenge for many SAP customers is getting used to working from home. “Many teams that used to be able to gather on the floor, in board rooms, or in their data center can’t do that anymore. But the overall business still needs to be supported. Certain questions come into play here, such as how do we collaborate and how do we do it in a secure, compliant way?” Ahmed says.

A session on how to use automation to gain efficiencies in your security processes and improve the effectiveness of security controls will help businesses answer these questions. Titled “Effectively Managing SAP Security Risks in the Modern World,” presenters from Protiviti and SAP will review how businesses can take advantage of SAP Access Control to get users access quicker while increasing compliance. How to assess tools such as Enterprise Threat Detection to protect against cyber risks will also be addresses, as well as how to automate using continuous monitoring tools like Access Violation Management and Process Control to test 100% of transactions and only review exceptions.

Finance and the Virtual Close

A common challenge in finance even before the pandemic struck was successfully and efficiently completing the month-end close. The business continuity track will highlight two businesses that were able to complete a successful virtual close with a fully remote accounting team with the help of SAP and partners.

Hubbell, a long-time customer of SAP and BlackLine, set out to further automate their financial close processes with SAP S/4HANA up and running as its ERP. When forced to quickly transition to a fully virtual close, Hubbell used BlackLine solutions to adapt. During this case study session, “How Hubbell Modernized Accounting and Transitioned to Closing Virtually,” attendees will learn how balance sheet substantiation laid the foundation for Hubbell’s use of BlackLine solutions, allowing the company to document and facilitate key SOX controls and to remain proactive in their approach to intercompany processes.

BlackLine also assisted Brighthouse Financial in being able to close with a fully remote workforce. This case study session, “Getting Better Every Day: Brighthouse Financial’s Continuous Improvement Journey with BlackLine,” explains how Brighthouse gained momentum for future automation and transformation by identifying BlackLine’s SAP Account Substantiation and Automation solution to complement their SAP S/4HANA ERP and address multiple financial close processes previously performed in multiple vendor systems.

Another highly affected area in finance is lease management. During our session, “Conserve Cash and Improve EBITDA through Active Lease Management,” presenters from Bramasol will discuss the impacts of today’s crisis on the balance sheet and income statement and how active lease management can save businesses money on impairments and evergreens.

Risk Management

Due to advancements in technology, including intelligence capabilities such as AI and machine learning, remote automation and security, and the cloud, businesses are able to streamline processes regardless of where in the world they are working from, allowing many employees to stay at home until a safe way to re-open the economy arrives. “If this happened ten or even five years ago, we’d be in a much different world. You might have people risking their health and well-being to go into the office to support the business,” Ahmed says.

Although many employees have found a way to mitigate the risk of catching or spreading the virus by working from home, the risks faced by the business itself still exist. An introductory session, “Top Finance and Risk Priorities for Business Continuity During Economic Disruption,” will share which projects in the finance and risk spaces are being prioritized by SAP and their customers.

In addition to understanding and aligning priorities, focusing on managing cash and cash risk during challenging economic times such as we face today is essential. During our session “Managing Cash and Risk in Times of Economic Disruption” presenters from SAP and Bramasol will come together to discuss the four types of risk and hone in on financial risk specifically to help attendees understand how to mitigate and manage financial risk.

Ahmed says that businesses need to understand how to use their current tools to deal with the new risks that exist, including compliance concerns. Presenters from Protiviti and SAP will discuss how attendees can utilize SAP Risk Management and SAP Process Control to enable and automate key Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) activities during our session, “Leveraging SAP Risk Management and Process Control to Streamline Enterprise Risk Management in a Virtual Environment.” This session will help businesses understand how to automate compliance management and optimize control testing with SAP Process Control and how to leverage continuous monitoring of controls, assess potential risk impacts, and track the effectiveness of risk responses using reports and analytics.

Forecasting for a “New Normal”

Planning ahead for situations that require your supply chain and workforce to be flexible will be required now more than ever, says Ahmed. Fortunately, businesses today have the technology to enable them to do so. While companies can’t necessarily plan based on last year’s results due to today’s dynamic climate, accurate, flexible, iterative, and timely planning is critical. Our session presented by Protiviti, “Planning for the Unplanned: See how SAP Analytics Cloud Planning Can Enable Predictive Forecasting in a Volatile Market,” will provide real-time forecasting and planning techniques to help businesses adapt to an unpredictable future.

Talking points will include how to leverage Scenario Management to anticipate and plan for hundreds of potential conditions, how embedded collaboration capabilities enable quick decisions in a virtual office environment, and how predictive analytics will replace “tribal knowledge” and “past performance” to drive forecasting accuracy.

Ahmed says, “No matter what, the more you use intelligence and automation that’s going to be valuable inside and outside of a crisis because it’s making your business processes more efficient and better.”

Register to attend sessions in SAPinsider’s business continuity track.

Lessons Learned by Lam Research After an Employee Central Org. Structure Redesign

When a producer of wafer fabrication equipment and services for the global semiconductor industry migrated from on-premise to Employee Central in 2015, much of the organizational structure and related data from its SAP HCM instance were moved across to the new platform during the implementation. This meant that the organizational structure followed the manager relationship hierarchy and couldn't fully support the company's current global accountability structure need. To achieve better results, the company’s project team set out to restructure its organizational hierarchy levels in Employee Central.

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5 Steps of S&OP to Achieve an Integrated Business Plan

Understand the Framework, Key Activities, Inputs and Outputs of S&OP with SAP IBP Approach

Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is a set of decision-making processes that regulate and coordinate overall capacity, inventory levels, and lead times across engineering, projects, manufacturing, finance, supply chain, and operations based on forecast information about the market. S&OP focuses on changes from the previous plan and links that with the strategic goals of cost and lead time reduction to determine suitable capacity adjustment actions. This article will provide the framework and key concepts to using SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP) for Supply Chain to effectively balance demand and supply and attain financial targets.

After reading this article you will be able to:
- List and define the five essential steps of S&OP
- Explain how S&OP fits into the larger manufacturing planning and control hierarchy
- Apply the components of S&OP to data gathering, demand and supply planning, and supplier collaboration

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Venkata Ramana Nethi, CSCP, CPIM Manager IT Build-Run Operations & Quality, Schlumberger
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Venkata Ramana Nethi, Manager IT Build-Run Operations & Quality at Schlumberger, has 20 years of experience including SAP and domain expertise in manufacturing and planning. He joined Cameron in 2010, which was acquired by Schlumberger in 2016, and is responsible for SAP production planning, advanced planning and optimization (APO), and Quality modules including process study, design, implementation, and support in manufacturing and supply chain business transformation solutions. Before joining Schlumberger, Venkata was an SAP production planning consultant at Wipro Technologies, where he led SAP PP implementation and support projects for a global client base. Prior to that, he was manager at VOLTAS manufacturing unit based in India where he was responsible of production planning and shop floor manufacturing processes of refrigerator and commercial cooler products for CPG customers. Venkata has CSCP and CPIM certifications and his expertise ranges from business case analysis to implementation and production support engagements in manufacturing and supply chain planning transformation initiatives. He is also involved in sales and operations planning supported by SAP Integrated Business Planning and the solution’s integration with various systems to support demand and supply planning.

High Availability & Disaster Recovery Protection for SAP and SAP S/4HANA in Azure - Webinar

There are good reasons for migrating SAP and SAP S/4HANA applications to the cloud, but there are also potential pitfalls. The cloud is agile, affordable and dependable. The technologies being used to provide high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) for applications running in an enterprise data center may work differently in the cloud.

Hear from high availability and cloud experts from SIOS and Microsoft Azure for this webinar to learn:
• How SAP has partnered with Microsoft to quickly deploy and run SAP S/4HANA on Microsoft Azure
• The four fundamental options for protecting SAP and SAP S/4HANA applications in the cloud
• Best practices for high availability and disaster recovery of SAP HANA systems
• The benefits of leveraging Microsoft Azure with SAP-certified SIOS high availability solutions to protect SAP S/4HANA and achieve near-zero downtime

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Hershey’s Minimizes Management Adjustments to Financial Close

Finance Managers Leverage Central Finance and BlackLine to Improve Efficiency

by Pierce Owen, VP, Research & Publishing, SAPinsider

About 31% of the SAPinsider Community chose the “need to reduce time required to generate data and reporting at period close” as a key driver for their SAP S/4HANA Finance strategy, according to SAPinsider’s upcoming research on the “SAP S/4HANA Finance: State of the Market.” Additionally, 58% of the same survey’s respondents chose financial close as one of their top three pain points within the finance function. In Hershey’s case, the company improved the efficiency of its financial close by implementing SAP S/4HANA for central finance foundation and SAP Account Substantiation and Automation by BlackLine.

SAPinsider recently interviewed John Zimmerman, Director of Financial Data Systems at The Hershey Company. The American multinational chocolate manufacturer is headquartered in Hershey, Pennsylvania and has about 16,140 employees globally. This SAPinsider case study shares how Hershey’s has used Central Finance and BlackLine to consolidate its financial reporting environment.

Preparation for SAP S/4HANA Required Reliable Reporting

Before implementing Central Finance and BlackLine, Hershey’s used a SharePoint site to control the balance sheet. “SharePoint couldn’t sustain 40 different company codes. That wasn’t manageable,” Zimmerman says.

Hershey’s started planning its migration to SAP S/4HANA in early 2016. “We went live with Central Finance in April 2018 as part of the path to manage our migration to SAP S/4HANA,” Zimmerman says.

Hershey’s must integrate and consolidate reporting data from two instances of SAP ERP and the three non-SAP ERP systems to perform its financial close each month. It gets real-time transaction details and monthly sub-ledgers from the SAP ERP instances in North America and Asia, a daily summary from the Brazilian subsidiary, and monthly trial balances from Amplify and ONE Brands’ ERP systems. All this data ends up in Central Finance and the BlackLine solution.

Central Finance essentially serves as an approach to prepare for and deploy SAP S/4HANA whereby a company replicates financial documents into the central system. This empowers the organization to harmonize master data and develop a common reporting structure even with data coming from distributed sources, both SAP and non-SAP.

“By the time we go live on SAP S/4HANA, we will have three years of information in Central Finance, which we see as part of our SAP S/4HANA pressure testing. We are evaluating if this is the right long-term structure, and it puts us in a good spot to make well-educated decisions about our SAP S/4HANA architecture now that we’ve seen Central Finance in action,” Zimmerman says.

Central Finance and BlackLine Consolidate and Track Close Activities

With Central Finance, Hershey’s can now easily pull together the overall summary picture of its finances and drill down to the transaction level for the information coming from the SAP ERP instances, including the ability to look at granular information down to sales orders without bouncing information from system to system.

“We stood up a reporting center of excellence in our shared services department, which started producing consistent operational reports for our manufacturing plants. Leveraging data from Central Finance, we can collect information on pounds of chocolate produced and the hours worked at each plant. This way, we know how many direct labor hours charged to a cost center that produces Hershey bars,” Zimmerman says.

Central Finance can also grab data from the integrated ERP systems at unnatural cutoff points so that SAP users no longer need to schedule jobs to snapshot data but can generate cutoffs and transition that information into different reporting dimensions. Capturing this information at will empowers the organization to make better, more timely decisions.

“We’re evaluating packaging spend by vendor based on our historical data in Central Finance. We could not easily reproduce this from SAP ERP alone. Without Central Finance, we would have to extract the data into other systems to conduct this analysis,” Zimmerman says.

To build visualizations of this type of data, Hershey’s has recently started evaluating Workiva. “Workiva does an excellent job of reporting and has an API connector to BlackLine to draw text level data and build visualizations,” Zimmerman says.

Hershey’s has implemented two major use cases for BlackLine so far: aging control and task management. It has a significant number of aged open items. BlackLine has a matching capability that highlights accountability to address and resolve these items in SAP ERP which will reduce the number of open items that will ultimately transition to SAP S/4HANA.

Task management in BlackLine keeps track of close activities in both Central Finance and SAP ERP. “We’re building user stories in financial areas by the tasks defined in BlackLine . This allows individuals to execute those tasks that they will own in SAP S/4HANA and reduces the risk of missing required activities,” Zimmerman says. This helps ensure that the right people and areas that will need to help deploy and run SAP S/4HANA test the same close steps they will complete in SAP S/4HANA.

“This also helps us maintain the business case for SAP S/4HANA,” Zimmerman says.

Hershey’s recently had to do a virtual close for the first time due to the COVID-19 crisis. BlackLine highlighted 1,500 tasks that employees needed to complete. “BlackLine was the anchor that got it done in time. We had daily calls with graphs and monitoring of task completion generated from BlackLine task management. Auditors had improved and remote visibility, and senior management got to the point where they were reviewing and signing-off on the critical high-risk items,” Zimmerman says.

With journal entries going into two instances of SAP ERP and three non-SAP ERP systems, managers used to have to wait forty-five minutes to see the entries reflected in the consolidated books. With Central Finance, this now takes seconds. Consolidating summarized information used to require digging deep into each separate system, but now, Hershey’s does all of this in Central Finance. “We are consistently closing in four and a half days with fewer management adjustments now,” Zimmerman says.

What Does This Mean for the SAPinsider Community?

Based on our research and the interview with John Zimmerman, the following considerations can help the SAPinsider Community better manage consolidated financial reporting:

  • Assign task owners and proxies to finish high risk items. When going through task management in BlackLine , Hershey’s senior management reviewed and signed off on critical high-risk items. Large organizations need individual owners assigned to these types of critical closing tasks and have backups or proxies to pinch hit if necessary.
  • Reconcile differences between custom and standardized coding blocks. Custom code in SAP ERP does not always translate well to SAP S/4HANA or Central Finance. Hershey’s had highly customized mass journal entries in its SAP ERP and had to reclassify its history with manual journal entries.
  • If working with multiple instances of ERP, consider Central Finance to improve financial consolidation and prepare for SAP S/4HANA. Hershey’s legacy SharePoint solution could not handle the complexity of its business. It knew it needed to prepare for the eventual move to SAP S/4HANA and that it needed a more comprehensive solution in the meantime. SAP S/4HANA central finance foundation and BlackLine improved the efficiency of its financial close and furthered the business case for SAP S/4HANA.
  • Involve key stakeholders in any financial consolidation project. Hershey’s has key stakeholders using BlackLine tasks and Central Finance now and has allowed them to contribute to the solution because these same people will help deploy and run SAP S/4HANA. A successful SAP S/4HANA project requires both user acceptance and continuous user education.

Pierce Owen, Vice President of Research & Publishing, SAPinsider, can be reached at

Discover Free Tools to Help You Prepare Your ERP System for SAP S/4HANA

by Lauren Bonneau, Senior Editor, SAPinsider

As SAP customers make the move to SAP S/4HANA from SAP ERP, there are many preparation tasks that need to be addressed before the migration even starts. For those looking for tips and tricks to simplify and ease the migration process, SAPinsider presents insights from an SAP mentor who shares details, valuable resources, and lessons learned from her experiences.

On May 5, 2020, Tammy Powlas, Senior Business Analyst at Fairfax Water, will be a featured speaker in the SAPinsider 2020 Virtual Event – SAP S/4HANA, where she will discuss key steps that SAP customers should take before they migrate to SAP S/4HANA and shares insights into the no-cost options available for customers. Her session titled “Case Study: Preparing your ECC for SAP S/4HANA” will walk through her experience at Fairfax Water and the helpful tools that she turned to along the way.

The information presented reveals what SAP customers can do today to prepare for the journey to SAP S/4HANA and how to ensure the move goes smoothly. Powlas shares a host of free tools and services that customers might not realize they even have access to and tips for how to take advantage of these. She also covers how to build a business case to make the move, how to improve skills, and key steps to prepare, including data archiving, customer-vendor integration, and more.

To begin, she explains why Fairfax Water decided to undertake the transformation and shares her experiences working with SAP in a business transformation workshop in 2018, which helped to identify the strategic transformation goals – for example, employees wanted easier system navigation, improved integration, more mobility, better visibility, and advanced reporting and analytics.

“The outcome of workshop was a core transformation plan to acquire SAP S/4HANA — as a digital platform to provide ease of use, a new interface, mobile solutions for better reporting, and embedded analytics that were real time and more operational — which we did in 2019,” Powlas says.

She provides an overview of Fairfax Water’s experience and offers several tips, such as to consider setting up a pre-project to focus on getting the functional expertise in place and planning a few test conversions in an isolated sandbox system. “There’s no SAP S/4HANA migration that’s the same so you want to get familiar with the steps and see how long things take, which is the only way you can accurately plan,” she says. “You should identify all the activities that need to take place and plan that dress rehearsal to have a detailed runbook of the sequence, errors, and resolution.”

Powlas encourages all SAP customers to take advantage of SAP Enterprise Support contract offerings and value maps, and specifically to make note of these key success factors:

  • The free cloud application SAP Readiness Check 2.0 has a simple-to-consume dashboard, checks various aspects of the conversion (before, during, and after), and provides insight into how to prepare for SAP S/4HANA.
  • The Simplification Item Check is a report run in the SAP ERP system, which is mandatory and can be filtered by module and checks things, such as transaction codes, that have changed from the ERP system to SAP S/4HANA.
  • The Maintenance Planner checks to see which third-party add-ons can be converted to SAP S/4HANA, and the Roadmap Viewer contains templates and procedures for the various checks (both are extensions of SAP Solution Manager).
  • The SAP Data Volume Management cloud application is an easy-to-use-and-execute app where you can optimize memory and disk usage – a Basis admin must grant access on the launchpad.
  • The openSAP courses offer free training and courses on SAP S/4HANA implementations as well as other topics.
  • The SAP S/4HANA Movement program is a 90-day plan that offers step-by-step strategy and provides free charts, templates, and decision trees for high-level plans to give an idea for management to start the project.

“I strongly encourage you to check out the SAP S/4HANA Movement program to see when it’s offered,” Powlas says. “We spent time with other utilities customers on defining the strategy, and SAP helped us consider our options and build our case. They will help you run the SAP Transformation Navigator, which looks at a system to see what replaces what, and help understand those recommendations. I think all customers who are considering a move to SAP S/4HANA should take advantage of it.”

Powlas also strongly emphasizes the importance of developing an archiving strategy. “One thing you want to take care of in your ERP system before you migrate is delete old data that doesn’t provide any legal or business value,” she says. “You don’t want to spend time moving that data over so declutter your SAP system before you migrate. Contact your archiving experts, clean your system, and check out the blog I wrote about how you can delete data.”

In addition to the great advice and explanations provided in the presentation, Powlas also shares pages of resources in an appendix – with links to more info on the SAP product-related training, subtopics such as financial conversions, technical topics, and ABAP resources for development folks. The appendix shares all the trials, best practices, and roadmaps mentioned and points viewers to precisely where they can investigate deeper on their own to begin defining their business case.

Tune in for more details and for this great list of resources. Powlas will be presenting this session at the SAPinsider 2020 Virtual Event – SAP S/4HANA on May 5, 2020 as well as at the in-person SAPinsider 2020 event in Austin, Texas that is scheduled for August 11-13, 2020. For more information on either event, visit here. To watch a live Q&A with Powlas for even more information about the steps to success with SAP S/4HANA, watch this video.

Siemens AG: A Server Landscape For Massive Data Storage & In-Memory Data Processing

In the current digital economy, the volume of data continues to increase exponentially, taxing current memory and storage systems at high cost. To solve these industry challenges, Accenture, Intel, and SAP partnered with Siemens to test, validate, and demonstrate the benefits of Intel® Optane™ persistent memory on Siemens’ complex SAP HANA database.

This video highlights that proof-of-concept journey, including the myriad benefits offered by the massive memory potential of Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors & Intel Optane Persistent memory, including greater capacity, memory persistence, and increased performance. Learn how Intel Xeon Scalable processors and Intel Optane persistent memory can accelerate your company’s data insights and boost operational efficiency.

Watch now!