Time to get smart about central finance data quality

We hear a lot about just how important data is to modern enterprises. And nowhere is that more true than in finance.

Today’s finance functions need to move faster than ever, with the flexibility and agility to adapt quickly to changing business circumstances. They need accurate intelligence-driven forecasts and real-time visibility into finance data across the whole organization.

But how do CFOs achieve that level of speed to insight at scale? In large and complex global organizations, some are turning to SAP S/4HANA® for central finance (mostly known as just “Central Finance”).

The Central Finance implementation concept is “finance first” because it accelerates the finance function’s ability to get intelligent forecasting and rapid data-driven decision-making capabilities from SAP S/4HANA.

Data, data, data

But there’s one thing you absolutely need to get right if you want to create that kind of modern data-driven finance environment: data quality.

Put simply, what you get out of Central Finance entirely depends on what you put in. So it’s critical to have complete and unambiguous financial data, accurately mapped to and from underlying systems. In other words, your data is the foundation on which your Central Finance journey is built.

There’s a catch. For a large organization, the process of profiling the data in all those systems, cleansing it, and then mapping it to Central Finance can be a truly gargantuan task. Sometimes, it can take whole teams of dedicated people several months to get it right.

So there’s potentially a lot of value to be unlocked by a technology solution that can automate this process in an intelligent way.

Enter Accenture’s intelligent data quality automation

At Accenture, we’ve been developing a suite of intelligent automation tools to do just that. In our new report, Data as the Foundation for Central Finance we explore these in detail. But let’s take a look at some of the key areas where they can deliver the most value.

First, data quality. One of the reasons data profiling and cleansing can be so time consuming is the need to define the business rules that should be applied. Typically, that’s not something the data management team can do on their own, so you often have a lot of back and forth with the business as these rules are agreed.

But, with Accenture’s Intelligent Data Quality tool (IDQ), it’s possible to suggest thousands of potential rules in minutes (or even seconds) based on how frequently different data patterns occur. Then, once approved, the rules can be automatically applied to cleanse the data.

That can make a significant difference to the time and effort needed. In fact, our experience shows you can cut out around 60 percent of the manual effort by using this intelligent automation approach.

The second key area is data deduplication. Duplicated values are clearly an issue in a Central Finance data architecture, since one of the principal goals is to ensure unambiguous information is available.

Accenture’s deduplication tool helps here by using fuzzy logic and data mining to identify potential duplicate items and determine the “best” one for loading into Central Finance as the master record (enriched as necessary).

Finally, there’s the data mapping itself. This is clearly a critical part of a Central Finance implementation, since the value of the approach ultimately derives from the mapping between the new S/4HANA core and the legacy underlying systems.

But the reality is, mapping can be a very long, very time-consuming task. So here, again, Accenture has developed an intelligent automation approach. Thanks to fuzzy logic and data mining, plus a dynamic cloud-based interface, our tool can take a lot of the legwork out of a mapping program while also providing a clear and simple dashboard to monitor progress.

The big picture

While all of the above are clearly crucial to a Central Finance implementation, there’s a broader point here. From artificial intelligence solutions to cloud and edge computing and much else besides, data management is becoming a foundational business capability, and data is becoming an increasingly strategic asset for the enterprise.

To ensure that asset is protected and the business has the data foundation it needs for future growth, enterprise data needs to be high quality and needs to be managed well. Doing that at the speed and scale required will increasingly need intelligent automation solutions.

That’s why it’s time to get smart about data quality — and enable the whole business to make better decisions with data.

Learn more

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 Sabrina Yamashita for her expertise and insights in preparing the above blog post.

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

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 www.accenture.com.



Lead — SAP Business Group Finance Transformation, Accenture

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