At its annual SAPPHIRE NOW conference in Orlando, FL two weeks ago, SAP announced Simple Finance, a solution designed to utilize the power of HANA in order to provide agility within modern finance departments. The solution offers enhanced capabilities for planning, analysis, accounting, consolidation, treasury, financial operations, risk and compliance deployed in the SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud. Of all of the announcements at SAPPHIRE, this solution interested me the most.

Finance is not typically known as a department that is prone to innovation. Rather, finance is typically viewed as an operational function that serves the specific purpose of managing transactions, reporting, and compliance. This, however, is changing. With advancements in the ability to process more data more quickly, finance can become a source of cost savings and provide valuable insight for decision-makers as they attempt to guide the organization. In fact, my recent 2014 Excellence in Financial Management Survey found that 94% of Best-in-Class organizations have executive commitment for transformation in the finance department, in comparison to 66% of All Others. Evidence of how they’ve established comes in the fact that Best-in-Class organizations are over twice as likely as All Others to have implemented predictive analytics and are at the forefront in implementing in-memory analytics among other technologies. In fact, my report “In-Memory and Social Business: Coming Soon to your Large Enterprise” found that Leading large enterprises are already 27% more likely than Followers to have in-memory analytics technology, with another 42% planning to implement this technology in the near future.

So how does SAP Simple Finance enable transformation within finance? SAP lists the following capabilities and benefits:

  • Creating a single-source of truth that crosses all finance processes
  • Real-time data to greatly facilitate month-end closing
  • Predictive analysis for forecasting
  • Self-service capabilities for access to reporting
  • Enhanced capability for connecting with the extended enterprise
  • Continuous monitoring for compliance

All of these capabilities are very much in alignment with the research I have completed on financial transformation. Finance should no longer be thought of as a burden but rather as a potential competitive advantage. For more information on this subject, check out my report “Excellence in Financial Management: Creating a Modern, Cohesive Finance Department with ERP”.

Nick Castellina 
Research Director
Business Planning and Execution
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