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.
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.”