Learn the Keys to a Successful Central Finance Deployment of SAP S/4HANA

by Lauren Bonneau, Senior Editor, SAPinsider

SAP customers that are moving to or considering a move to the Central Finance deployment option of SAP S/4HANA will be faced with a certain level of complexity that they may or may not be expecting. For those looking for answers, tips for how to approach the implementation, and details on lessons learned, SAPinsider presents insights from an expert in the field who shares a tried-and-test approach to success.

On May 5, 2020, Tony Rogan, Senior Manager at Accenture, will be a featured speaker in the SAPinsider 2020 Virtual Event – Financials, where he will discuss tips and tricks he has learned from his experience of helping customers work through their implementations of SAP S/4HANA – and particularly sharing insights into the Central Finance deployment option. His session titled “Case Study: The path to a successful Central Finance implementation” will walk through a specific example of a global agricultural products customer that went live with a pilot implementation of Central Finance in April 2019.

The example case study presented reveals a complex landscape of six SAP source systems and nearly 30 non-SAP systems all with decentralized ownership across the business, which served to escalate the challenge of creating a consistent global design. While Rogan goes through the pilot implementation of this particular deployment, the insights he shares will be applicable to those outside the agricultural industry.

Throughout his presentation, Rogan shares advice on configuration approach, such as establishing overall definitions that will harmonize key components from the source systems, pointing out that many source systems will involve multiple versions of ERP systems. He also identifies key areas that will need to be investigated, such as replicating from parallel to extension ledgers and how to set up currencies so they populate correctly. “With different source systems you are going to have differences in decimal settings for the currencies,” he says. “As a best practice, set it to the largest so it can accommodate all.”

Rogan shares Accenture’s strategy for Central Finance implementations and offers advice including how to approach initial load and ongoing replication and reconciliation. He covers configuration best practices, alignment issues across systems, such as the changes to document splitting and moving from costing-based to account-based model. He offers several tips such as:

  • Ensure good master data governance practices are in place before starting the project.
  • Get key design decisions ironed out – such as company codes, cost codes, and general ledger definitions – in the planning phase and use that design as an anchor for later in the project.
  • Focus on alignment of key configuration items across source systems before starting testing; it’s important to be cognizant of what’s in that source and how to map to it.
  • Maintain an error playbook for error-handling in Central Finance and assign people who are natural investigators to look into options – there’s no tool here that is off-limits.
  • Perform five or six test cycles at minimum and automate regression testing of source systems.
  • Go through reconciliations at least monthly and investigate available reporting tools.

Rogan goes through the scope, timeline, and results from the example case study, which began with high-level blueprinting in 2017, design through 2018, and went live in 2019. “Our pilot scope was two company codes from SAP systems and one from a JD Edwards instance that we had connected, and over time, we start deploying to the rest of the systems,” he says. “We accomplished 100% validation at the end of the pilot after initial load testing. Our first initial load took a number of weeks to get through technical hurdles, and we got it down to two days at the end of it. That was huge. We saw a drastic decrease in the time that was taking us to get through our initial load cycle and our reconciliation as well.”

With eight million records loaded and replicated during the pilot cutover, today, the project is at 77 million replicated records — with greater than 99% rate of replication postings. According to Rogan, SAP states that this implementation had the highest level of data accuracy of all Central Finance implementations. “That’s a testament to being vigilant in how we managed configuration and governed the master data,” he says. “The more you do that and the more you get that stuff harmonized up front, the fewer errors you are going to get on replication. You hear some real horror stories with error messages on projects, and it’s really down to that governance on configuration and master data especially. Generally, what we are finding with the finance community is the more errors there are, people start to lose faith.”

Rogan offers this sage piece of advice: “You have to get on top of that during your testing phase and do everything you can to get your number of errors down. Make sure you cast a wide net in converting your master records that you are going to transact. While you might not be able to convert everything, you have to develop a conversion strategy and make sure that master data is governed.”

Tune in for more details. Rogan will be presenting this session at the SAPinsider 2020 Virtual Event – Financials 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.