Modernizing real estate capabilities with SAP RE-FX
Accenture creates a foundation for modernizing real estate capabilities with SAP® Flexible Real Estate Management
As a large, global company, Accenture has a vast real estate portfolio that is dynamic and a significant business cost. To manage, report on and optimize it, our Real Estate Management and Finance organizations need to have a good understanding of what’s in the portfolio and how it is performing.
Getting to that understanding took time and effort. We decided to launch a journey to migrate from a legacy system and manually intensive tools to a modern solution—SAP Flexible Real Estate Management (SAP RE-FX)—a comprehensive lease contract management solution, which would also help us comply with new US and international lease accounting rules.
SAP RE-FX was a good fit for Accenture as it offers functionality for lease management, lease accounting, payments, planning and others. The module fully integrates directly with other SAP applications without the need for extensive programming. It also offered improved security, automation of transactions, a full audit trail from record to report, and the opportunity to innovate new solutions.
Offices and operations in more than 200 cities in 50 countries
Leases in Accenture’s real estate portfolio
Our Corporate Services & Sustainability Real Estate, Finance and Global IT organizations came together to lay out a plan to move from the legacy solution to SAP RE-FX and address the need to comply with the new lease accounting rules. This one-team effort was needed to bring the lease management and lease accounting functions “under one roof” for SAP RE-FX because the module draws on a single source of master data in SAP S/4HANA. Previously, these two functions carried out their own activities with data provided at required points in time.
Our project team migrated all of Accenture’s location and leasing master data from the legacy system to the new Lease Administration submodule, relying on the team’s functional as well as SAP software expertise. Lease contract information needed to be available to be able to automate the feed of information to the Lease Accounting module. Moving the data from a third-party application into Accenture’s SAP S/4HANA system also better complied with Accenture’s data security requirements.
In parallel, our team implemented Lease Accounting. Transferring existing account balances for our $3 billion of real estate leases into the new system was a major challenge and it was further complicated by the issuance of new lease accounting rules while the project was in process.
The Lease Accounting module now automatically calculates lease assets, liabilities and expenses, significantly reducing manual effort and increasing accuracy. The team also created a new engine to calculate the differences in lease balances between Financial Accounting Standards Board Accounting Standards Codification Topics 842 and 840 and International Financial Reporting Standard No. 16, to accommodate local statutory reporting.
SAP RE-FX provides a step change in lease accounting capability through transparency, automation and predictability around lease payments.
Melissa Burgum / Corporate Controller, Accenture
The next logical step in our program was to implement Lease Payments, currently underway, to further enhance capabilities. Integrating all these functionalities allows Finance and Real Estate teams across Accenture to work from a “single source of truth.” Having a single source of lease data and establishing processes using that data allows for alignment of different parts of the business.
Teams gain transparency as everyone has access to the same data, enabling them to make more informed decisions. Finance and Real Estate teams, for example, are discovering opportunities to better align lease payments to lease terms, enabling Accenture to enhance its cash liquidity. Once Lease Payments is fully implemented, we’ll be able to create payments directly from the SAP system and discontinue paying through our procurement function—a more efficient process.
Taking advantage of leveraging master data on our SAP S/4HANA system, our team built a data lake for SAP RE-FX. We collaborated, drawing on deep real estate expertise, to build a navigation panel on top of it in the form of an interactive global map. Authorized users can click on a country and view the contracts for every building Accenture is leasing. A user can then click further to see more detail, navigating building information in real time.
The team also developed new reports and dashboards that provide contractual and financial information across the portfolio. SAP RE-FX can combine data from the SAP system and locational data from Accenture’s master data repository into comprehensive reports and dashboards, enhancing Accenture’s analytical capabilities.
Throughout our program, one lesson learned was the importance of change management. SAP RE-FX was not only an IT implementation. Everyone’s way of working changed. Work shifted and numerous decentralized processes were rationalized, changed and reduced to just a few. Adapting to these changes required steady communications and training.
SAP RE-FX simply does everything we need it to do, plus it gives us data transparency and fully integrates with all our financial systems.
Eli Lambert / Managing Director – Global IT, Finance Platforms, Accenture
Today, Accenture’s Real Estate and Finance functions benefit from having teamed with Global IT to work with a new, modern software solution that addresses the needs of both areas in an ever-changing world. SAP RE-FX provides a single, centralized solution with a single source of truth in terms of data. It also integrates and automates data to support accounting requirements. In addition, more than 30 processes have been enhanced into a single global process with standardized best practices and elimination of many manual procedures.
SAP RE-FX provides the foundation for Accenture to continue the journey of adding more functionality over time. The solution centrally pulls data for Accenture’s global office space, allowing the business to follow a standardized approach across the different regions.
Building on this foundation, we developed a Portfolio Planning solution. It was far enough along that when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our Real Estate team was able to quickly and accurately perform many what-if scenarios around office closings and openings, assess the amount of physical space available and needed, and determine plans.
Accenture’s key benefits from using SAP RE-FX:
Senior Managing Director and Executive Director – Corporate Services & Sustainability and Business Operations
Managing Director – Real Estate, Corporate Services & Sustainability
Managing Director – Finance, Strategy & Enablement
Managing Director – Global IT, Corporate Technology
Managing Director – Global IT, Finance Platforms
Senior Manager – Global IT, Finance Platforms
Senior Manager – Real Estate & Workplace Solutions
Director – SAP Real Estate Solutions