Call for change

Accenture faces growing demand for insights, planning and scenario modeling in our financial planning and reporting. At the same time, Accenture Finance business users’ expectations are evolving toward simplified, agile, real-time and self-service analytics.

As part of Accenture’s SAP transformation program, our Global IT organization extended our SAP Business Warehouse on SAP HANA® supported by an SAP HANA as a data mart for planning and analytics capabilities by adding the SAP Analytics Cloud Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution to our financial systems landscape.

SAP Analytics Cloud was a logical choice that allowed Accenture to capitalize on the major investments it has made in SAP systems and its single global system instance of SAP S/4HANA® in the cloud. SAP Analytics Cloud offered out-of-the-box rapid analytics development and planning features. It also offered the advantages of providing one platform for all analytics, being simple to get started with, and being “instant on,” supporting innovation and delivery speed.

When tech meets human ingenuity

Accenture’s foundational core SAP investments—running our SAP applications on the latest versions, driven by the latest database technology and the latest cloud-hosted offerings—positioned Accenture well for our Global IT organization to connect SAP Analytics Cloud on top of this technology foundation.

Being a new solution to Accenture, our Global IT team had to learn the features of SAP Analytics Cloud. A quick learning curve is involved to determine what the solution does, how to use it to build analytics and how users want to interact with it. We partnered with SAP to understand the solution in depth so that we could maximize its analytics and planning capabilities.

Enabling analytics

Our Global IT organization initially implemented SAP Analytics Cloud for an Intelligent Cash solution. It brought all the components of Intelligent Cash together into one consumption portal for Accenture Treasury users. Our next use case was for Accenture Finance to use SAP Analytics Cloud integrating with our SAP environment to perform overhead costs forecasting.

We also wanted to better support Finance’s growing demand for analytics by enabling self-service capabilities to bring more data intelligence to the business. Advanced power users in Finance like the self-service feature. It gives them the freedom to generate smart insights and rapid dashboards. They can also “storyboard,” a feature that our teams use for leadership sessions. It brings data and visualizations together to tell a story and help discover new insights within data.

Next-generation financial planning

We also used the SAP Analytics Cloud Planning module. The module’s ability to forecast at a daily, detailed level provided the data granularity the team needed to enable an Intelligent Cash optimization model to generate recommendations. The planning capability was available out of the box and offered cloud connectivity to all our SAP environments.

We expanded SAP Analytics Cloud Planning to other areas of Finance. The module addresses complex and diverse business scenario planning leveraging multiple technologies and applications from Accenture’s internal function bottom-up requirements to very high-level strategic needs. It enables the convergence of all those needs into a consolidated, simple cloud solution connecting people, information and ideas. When supported by embedded artificial intelligence, Finance users can discover previously imperceptible insights. In this way, SAP Analytics Cloud Planning unleashes the benefits of integrated planning business flow to prevent duplicated or disconnected enterprise data gaps.

A consolidated planning platform also generates simplified access to critical information but keeps the security flexible enough to expose data based on the “persona” role in the company, from regular user to advanced power users. Advanced power users can create their own analytics discovery or enable agile delivery for our Global IT organization, supporting the products already released in production. All this is governed by a built-in approval process in the tool.

Compelling reasons to make the move

At least three aspects won us over to adopt SAP Analytics Cloud. First, contrary to typical IT platform migration initiatives that require high, up-front investment, with SAP Analytics Cloud we could take a low-cost, phased approach. Once a license is purchased, the solution is ready immediately for developers. As the solution is being adopted, new user licenses can be purchased incrementally.

Secondly, the SAP Analytics Cloud rapid development capability allows for a very quick prototype timeline. Users can connect to real production data that makes it much easier for business stakeholders to understand the “art of the possible.” Accenture’s real estate team, for example, was able to develop an impressive solution prototype in two months that enabled business reviewers to get a true sense of the proposed solution and approve it.

And thirdly, aside from the typical planning features, SAP Analytics Cloud offers a full set of scenario modeling functionality that enables robust “what-if” scenario analysis. This modeling capability brings the flexibility of playing with key business drivers to understand the impact to an area without jeopardizing the real data used in the master version of the planning process.

“The power of SAP analytics cloud when combined with professional insights has propelled the way we see and use data exponentially.”

— ONKAR LIDDAR, Managing Director – Assistant Treasurer, Accenture

A valuable difference

To date, Accenture’s SAP Analytics Cloud journey has provided significant business value in several areas of analytics and enterprise financial planning:

Rapid analytics development – Maintains the data integrity and resilience of our core financial system by enabling real data to be read safely because of SAP Analytics Cloud being a separate, independent system.

The SAP Analytics Cloud rapid development feature enables this data integrity. Additionally, a self-service analytics and data discovery capability provides Finance power users with the freedom and flexibility to do their own exploration and analysis without IT intervention.

Predictive data fully integrated in cash flow planning – Augments Accenture’s cash forecasting with a predictive cash forecast model and SAP Analytics Cloud planning tool that integrates with our finance ecosystems and analytics models.

This capability automatically generates a cash forecast that is easily digestible, adjusted and validated by our treasury personnel in their day-to-day cash liquidity planning process. This “human+machine” combination merges objective forecasting with local expertise and knowledge of future events, such as an acquisition. This capability immensely reduces the efforts related to generating the forecast, enables expert review and adjustments, while centralizing decision-making power. In 2021, our Intelligent Cash solution was recognized with an SAP Innovation Award.

Optimized and agile planning cycles – Achieves treasury function agility by moving from a highly manual monthly process to a fully automated weekly planning frequency. This enables both more frequent operational and long-term strategic planning cycles.

Optimization of corporate real estate portfolio – Provides an integrated view of Accenture’s global real estate costs for all our offices across more than 100 countries in a dynamic environment through the centralization of the different planning processes in SAP Analytics Cloud.

Single source of truth for Accenture’s annual overhead cost planning – Working to support global annual overhead cost planning for all Accenture’s internal functions with a single, user-friendly consolidated solution. The intent is to increase Accenture’s efficacy to control internal costs in relation to revenues and annual growth targets.

Real-time insight to action – Offers real-time integration components for live connections to SAP systems.

An exceptional feature of SAP Analytics Cloud is the real-time integration components—a key differentiator—that facilitate insights to action. This integration with the entire SAP ecosystem allows live connections to SAP S/4HANA and SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (BPC) systems. This connectivity unleashes new functionalities previously unattainable such as real-time actual versus plan comparison or the trigger of a transactional event in a single global system from the main planning cockpit.

Looking ahead, Accenture’s adoption of SAP Analytics Cloud is in line with our IT journey to SaaS. This strategic move enables us to take advantage of a platform that is always current, secure and has the latest technology to support Accenture’s finance operations.

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