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SAP BW/4HANA application could streamline finance and planning

SAP Business Planning and Consolidation for BW/4HANA aims to simplify and consolidate enterprise financial planning; Business ByDesign's cloud ERP looks to the public sector.

Business finance and planning could get easier with SAP's new Business Planning and Consolidation 11.0 version for SAP BW/4HANA.

SAP BPC is designed to improve business processes like planning, budgeting, forecasting, financial consolidation and reporting in a unified application, according to David Williams, SAP's vice president of product marketing.

"Business Planning and Consolidation is the killer app that's been built on top of SAP BW/4HANA," Williams said. "It's intended to streamline these core business processes that finance typically drives, leveraging the BW/4HANA platform."

This makes it easier for users to plan, budget, forecast and share a single view of financial information throughout the organization, according to Williams. SAP BW/4HANA's architecture, based in SAP HANA, allows users to perform real-time analysis and planning across all ERP systems, while eliminating data duplication and reducing hardware and administration costs.

SAP BPC now includes a new simplified web UI that provides a better look and feel, according to Williams, as well as an interface that integrates with Microsoft Excel.

SAP BPC is a major step forward for organizational financial planning and consolidation, according to Ingmar Christiaens, partner and EMEA agile business finance lead at EY, a London-based implementation partner for SAP BPC.

"The SAP S/4HANA suite has made tremendous progress supporting the CFO's agenda to build an agile finance function," Christiaens said in a statement. "SAP has now taken another big step forward in the planning and consolidation space with SAP BPC version for SAP BW/4HANA. The modern user interface enables users to easily access enhanced analytic features and experience accelerated performance from the increased use of core SAP HANA functions."

SAP BPC's improved performance will lead to better analysis of financial data, according to Cliff Eng, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, an SAP finance transformation partner.

"SAP BPC for SAP BW/4HANA provides a flexible option for SAP customers seeking to enhance their finance capabilities on the SAP HANA technology," Eng said in a statement. "[It's] expected to unlock several performance improvement opportunities. [SAP BPC] can provide finance organizations with the ability to rapidly develop more comprehensive planning models, which may lead to better insight and improved decision-making."

Williams said SAP BPC performance has been upgraded with calculations being pushed into SAP HANA, allowing for faster planning and close cycles and more detailed planning. Connectivity has also been improved with integration to a wider variety of cloud applications and third-party data sources. Better bidirectional integration with SAP Analytics Cloud improves reporting and analysis.

"Users need to have the ability to run simulations and build models quickly," Williams said.

SAP Business ByDesign aims for public sector

SAP Business ByDesign, a cloud-based ERP product aimed at SMBs, is getting new functions designed specifically for public-sector organizations.

Public-sector organizations, which include state and local governments, nonprofits, and educational and research institutes, are an emerging market for a cloud ERP platform like SAP Business ByDesign (BBD), according to Elizabeth McGowan, SAP's global cloud strategy lead for public services.

These organizations are "generally risk-averse" and have been reluctant to move to the cloud, but this may be changing, McGowan said.

"It's probably taken them a little more time to look at a SaaS [software-as-a-service] solution for their ERP," she said. "They've done things like email, but actually replacing their on-premises ERP systems has taken a little bit more time, but we seem to be over that tipping point -- at least in North America."

SAP BBD offers many ERP functions, including HR, project management and finances, and it will now include functions like grant management that are specifically for public-sector organizations, according to Ingo Feucht, SAP's senior director for SAP Business ByDesign product marketing.

"In the early days, we saw a lot of service-oriented companies move to the cloud. And a couple of years ago, we saw that more areas were open to the cloud, like manufacturing companies. And we saw that the public sector has a need for the capabilities that BBD offers," Feucht said. "They came to us and said that with the IT and budget restrictions, they were looking for cloud systems with predictable costs."

This led to the development of the new functions aimed at public-sector organizations like fund management, McGowan said.

"Fund accounting is really the basis for most governments around the world, and they need to allocate all of their transactions against not just an accounting expenditure object like salaries or travel, but they need to put them into these fund buckets. And those funds are how they allocate within any government where money is spent," she said. "There's usually a general operating fund, special funds, capital funds, and they need to allocate any transactions across those. So, that requires anytime there's a purchase requisition or financial transaction that you don't just assign it to an account like travel or salary; you need to allocate it against a fund and also a function."

There's a substantial market for SAP BBD, McGowan explained, potentially upward of $1 billion.

"We took from an analysis that we did a couple years ago, and the number is potentially very conservative, given that there's upwards of 85,000 state and local organizations," she said. "Obviously, not all are looking for systems and would be in our target market, but if you add in nonprofits and higher education and research institutes, there's a huge amount of organizations that are going to potentially look to replace their legacy systems with cloud systems in the next 10 to 15 years.

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