Leading practice #1: Perform upfront analysis of configuration
The required level of finance with Central Finance is considerably higher than with other platforms, as SAP expects the alignment of key elements of configuration in replicating financial documents. It is important to establish standards and manage with a configuration governance council. Centralized management of the new configuration includes its creation in source systems and in Central Finance, as well as in updating mapping values.
Leading practice #2: Create effective governance of master data and replication
Determine your master data conversion strategy prior to testing. Govern all finance master data being replicated centrally and manage the minimum number of views needed in Central Finance for master data (i.e., Business Partner, Materials, etc.). Do not allow source systems to update master data; maintain it centrally and replicate it to both source and Central Finance simultaneously (or Central Finance first).
Leading practice #3: Anticipate issues with initial load
Early initial load cycles from a new source system require significant time due to issues found and the time it will take to resolve them. Be sure to schedule enough initial load cycles for testing. Use production-quality data in test environments with balance/document cut-offs to mimic production timings. Implement increasing threshold percentages of completion for initial load milestones (i.e., mapping simulation, posting simulation, posting).
Leading practice #4: Communicate effectively across support teams and finance organization to resolve errors
It is important to staff a dedicated team with sufficient resources to manage errors. Maintain an error playbook, and regularly (e.g., weekly, daily) communicate with Finance users about the status of replication, errors therein, status and expected error resolution times.
Leading practice #5: Maintain vigilance on AIF errors, reconciliations and accrual postings.
Errors are generated throughout the month in AIF and, though most are resolved during the month, some issues will remain open at month-end. Additionally, SAP messages may be required for errors, and the time required to resolve them can be lengthy. Configuration errors may be open if the proper approvals are not received prior to month-end. Master data governance and configuration governance will minimize the number of replication errors, but other errors will still occur.
Finding the path to success
Following these leading practices on your Central Finance project can help you deliver a successful implementation. Central Finance can enable finance leaders to be more proactive in managing the finance decision-making process and can lead to reduced time to close the books. Additional benefits include improved process efficiency, reduced total cost of ownership, and harmonized data to assist the finance team in meeting their stakeholders’ needs.