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Treasury Technology

The SAP Menu: Select Flavor, Add Toppings

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July 27, 2018

By Anne Friberg

Dublin conference showcases variety of paths offered by SAP. Sidecars, anyone?

Dublin showed off its sunniest Irish disposition in early July during the International SAP Conference for Treasury Management. Sponsors and exhibitors in attendance included many SAP implementation consultants as well as vendors of add-ons designed to enhance whichever version of SAP customers are using. Here are some key observations from the perspective of a treasury person without direct SAP experience:

  • The many flavors of SAP. Companies using SAP find themselves along a spectrum that ranges from early versions of its ERP to the ever-evolving S/4HANA offering. Where they stand depends on when they implemented SAP and whether they have an installed, on-premise version or use a private or public cloud (SaaS). New functionalities become available first in the public cloud version, which offers quarterly upgrades. Few companies start from scratch to implement S/4HANA. Rather, they need to transition from earlier, on-premise SAP versions to cloud-based ones.
  • Ditch the RFP? In a dynamic presentation about the cash and banking transformation, BP's Peter Keenan recommended considering doing away with the RFP. Heresy, you say? Well, the RFP process is a lot of work and assumes you know exactly what you want and need. Instead, why not ask SAP and other vendors to "come and sort it out for us" by identifying what they think is the best path forward, and then compare the solutions offered?
  • Choose the right integrator. Many consultants, of course, are eager to help implement SAP for you. We won't take sides, but several were represented at the conference and all had happy customers there. Most important is for the consultant to truly understand your starting point, evolving needs and desired end-state—and to be responsive to your timeline and resources. They must also understand the systems and applications with which the SAP implementation needs to integrate.
  • Sidecar: not just an old-school cocktail. Implementation consultants at Serrala (formerly known as Hanse Orga) say there is a middle ground between the "old" SAP ERP and S/4HANA. Serrala's Jochen Stiebe says as long as you have an S/4HANA database (as your single source of truth) and get the liquidity planner ("the heart of HANA") to work by properly routing accounting and bank statement data into it, all other treasury modules can be added on to the setup using SAP's FIORI applications. Mr. Stiebe refers to this middle road as the sidecar, but says not many consultants have experience with it. This subject deserves a more detailed article—so keep reading iTreasurer and NeuGroup.com.
  • Add your toppings. One of treasury's many frustrations is proper governance around data sources and how they get fed into the ERP environment. A company called Brisken offers an add-on data provision and governance solution that uses a "bring your own data" approach, where you have the licensing relationships with Reuters, etc. That means Brisken is not a reseller of the data to you, although "data included" solutions may be developed in the future.

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