How to jump-start an S/4HANA journey with Central Finance and Magnitude

When people think about SAP Central Finance — or CFIN for short — they typically imagine the “classic” use case. That is, a complex global organization that wants to pull data from many different ERP instances into a central S/4 platform so that the CFO can get up-to-date financial insights from across the entire enterprise.

We know that CFIN is extremely effective in those situations. But there are other ways to get value from CFIN with a “finance first” approach.

Even if your ERP landscape is much simpler (maybe just one or two instances) or you currently have an ageing non-SAP ledger, you can still use CFIN to both accelerate the value for your finance function and act as a stepping-stone on a broader S/4 implementation journey.

The value of finance first

Recently, one of Accenture’s clients, a multinational specialty chemicals company, had a very successful experience implementing CFIN which neatly illustrates the value of this approach.

Their existing non-SAP ERP system was over 15 years old and was creating more and more challenges for the organization — in its processes, customer experience, technology debt, ability to support sustainable growth, and so on.

They knew the current system needed replacing and they saw the long-term value of transitioning to SAP S/4HANA. However, we quickly realized they weren’t quite ready for a full-scale S/4 implementation. Because they were coming from a non-SAP system, it was just too big a jump for this organization at that point.

They needed something that would be less disruptive to their existing ways of working, but would still drive short-term value for the finance function. At the same time, they wanted to lay the groundwork for their longer-term S/4 ambitions.

So we helped the company implement CFIN. That gave them new central reporting functions — that crucial “single source of truth” for the CFO — as well as standardized data definitions and general ledger transactional capabilities.

It also brought a range of other benefits, including educating the workforce in the use of a modern ERP system, building confidence, and setting the stage for the broader S/4 implementation (documenting requirements, defining design elements, identifying opportunities for end-to-end process integration, and so on).

It all comes down to the data integration

In getting this CFIN approach right, the interface between the existing non-SAP ledger and the new S/4HANA ERP is obviously central.

That interface needs to extract, harmonize and augment source system data for import to S/4HANA. But it also needs to let users work in both “old” and “new” systems at the same time. It needs to be auditable. And it needs to be non-disruptive to working patterns to increase the confidence of the workforce in using S/4HANA.

Typically, you have two options here. You can either build your own interface, or use a third-party solution like Magnitude SourceConnect.

Unless you’re already in the business of writing software, there’s rarely going to be much value in trying to custom-build your own interface. Especially when there are already better third-party tools out there.

So in this case, we recommended using a Central Finance Integration Toolset from Magnitude. Magnitude is really valuable in this kind of non-SAP to SAP transition — so much so that it’s recommended by SAP itself. As you’d expect, it handles the data harmonization and replication between the different systems. But it also provides:

· Historical data load

· Reconciliation and auditability of transformed data

· Future maintenance and SAP support

· An error handling framework

· A resource pool with knowledge of both non-SAP and SAP systems

All in all, it’s a much more sustainable and user-friendly solution. And it can typically be implemented much faster than a custom-built interface.

Getting to S/4 faster

This was a real “light bulb” moment for this client. They realized there was a preexisting solution that could meet their technical needs faster, with minimal disruption, while providing a great user experience.

So it was a simple choice in the end. And in speaking with members of the company’s finance group, they’ve all been keen to highlight the speed and ease of the implementation. They were also impressed by the way Magnitude handled complex field mappings between two systems that have a very different “DNA”.

All things considered; it was a hugely successful project. I plan to dive into more of the details of the actual implementation approach in a future blog post. But I hope this has provided a clear sense of how a finance first approach with a third party like Magnitude can really fast-track the value the finance function gets from S/4HANA.

I’ll leave you with my three key takeaways:

· CFIN is not just for complex multi-ERP environments. You can use it to accelerate an S/4 journey even for a single instance non-SAP legacy ERP.

· If you’re starting with a non-SAP system, third-party software like Magnitude will make CFIN much faster and easier to deploy.

· A finance first approach is a valuable way to see tangible benefits quickly while also building confidence for the longer-term S/4HANA implementation.

For more information on how you can best drive finance transformation and implement SAP Central Finance in your organization, visit our website.

A special thanks to my colleague Vishal Gupta for his inputs and expertise in preparing the above blog post.

Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 537,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at About Accenture | Across Accenture

Copyright © 2021 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture and its logo are registered trademarks of Accenture

This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties. All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners. No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied.



Lead — SAP Business Group Finance Transformation, Accenture

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store