Finance reporting moves to the New with SAP HANA
Accenture implements SAP HANA® as a data mart, a separate SAP HANA system used as an analytics platform, to enable new analytics capabilities.
Accenture runs its core financial processing on a single global instance of SAP S/4HANA®. Given that Accenture is a diverse business, it needs to operate with insight, agility, efficiency, and compliance across multiple business units, business processes, and applications. Both the business processes and IT capabilities contend with a fast pace of change, growth, and larger volumes—all driving the need to continually evolve Accenture’s ERP to intelligent finance.
To this end, our internal IT organization undertook an initiative to implement a more powerful enterprise system, including SAP S/4HANA and SAP Business Warehouse (BW) in the public cloud. As part of this enterprise initiative, an IT team also implemented SAP HANA as a data mart in the public cloud, used as an analytics platform, and integrated it with our existing platform in addition to our existing SAP BW platform. The aim was to take advantage of the new ability to access real-time data and deliver analytics capabilities that were never available before, starting with the finance domain. Over time, the plan is to extend to additional domains such as HR or real estate.
In order to get to the next level of real-time finance reporting, we determined the need to implement SAP HANA, which created new possibilities. One of the first was to enable SAP HANA as a data mart and subsequently deploy a new, innovative architecture. This architecture is an SAP HANA data mart platform that is connected real-time with Accenture’s SAP ERP and SAP BW through the SAP System Landscape Transformation (SLT) system. The architecture also enables direct connectivity with Accenture’s data lake for advanced analytics business cases using data sourced from SAP and non-SAP systems. This new architecture allows real-time reporting for numerous business groups within Accenture.
To build the data analytic models, the team used SAP HANA Studio. It is both the central development environment and the main administrative tool for the SAP HANA system that is used to create the models directly from the SAP HANA database tables. SAP HANA Studio establishes governance around the different functional areas and is used by Finance and HR analytics groups to allow flexible data modeling and rapid delivery of new business reports. The solution is fully automated by directly accessing data sources that allow agile data modeling, avoiding large, manual end-user efforts.
Using an agile methodology and the flexibility of the SAP HANA data mart platform, our IT analytics team can implement specific real-time analytics use cases rapidly. Finance users can view financial data in a user-friendly way through charts and other visualizations, leveraging front-end tools like QlikView, Qlik Sense, SAP® BusinessObjects™ Analysis for Microsoft Office and SAP Analytics Cloud. The feed of data from different SAP sources into these front-end tools is automated. In addition, new front-end applications were developed using SAPUI5 (HTML5) to improve the user-experience interfaces when operating in the data mart. Since then, new predictive capabilities have been enhanced in the SAP HANA data mart architecture that allow predictive models in reporting.
For Accenture, SAP HANA as a data mart generates real-time data and provides reporting tools and robust analytics capabilities available in new and user-friendly ways. A few examples:
Treasury executive reporting
Enables real-time reporting and data analytics. Leveraging the new predictive capabilities, the reporting provides Treasury managers a more accurate Treasury forecast and an easy way to monitor cash flow. It is empowering Accenture’s Treasury professionals to effectively manage Accenture’s global cash and make critical liquidity decisions by leveraging alerts and flags, helping to reduce foreign exchange risks. This reporting continues to enhance Accenture’s position of proactive, best-in-class Treasury operations, anticipating trends and mitigating financial risks.
Receivables collection report
This report historically took eight hours a week to produce and was refreshed twice a week. Now the report is real time and takes zero time to produce. In addition, changes are delivered faster with lower risk.
Probability of late payment
A new algorithm predicts the probability of late payment from Accenture clients. The collection process used to be a manual, quarter approach feed. Now it is driven by a new, automated report, enabling the collection process to be faster.
Expansion to other business domains
Other business domains like real estate reporting are taking advantage of the platform to provide a way for the business to measure and respond to more real-time metrics, assess the premise’s cost of each building and relate to Accenture’s overall space cost metrics, ensuring we are negotiating the best pricing for the required space types.
More reporting and analytics opportunities continue to be developed, enabled by the new architecture. The longer-term vision is to migrate old reporting to new analytics, ultimately enabling full integration of Accenture’s analytics ecosystem.
“The SAP HANA data mart initiative has changed the game around our finance reporting. We have freed ourselves from a complex and constrained environment and can now create very powerful reporting capabilities that we are only getting started with.”