SAP has several versions of cloud-based financials, some of which have been around for a while (see the “SAP Business ByDesign” section later in this chapter). But for now, the solution that is being hyped for the cloud is SAP S/4HANA Finance.
The on-premise version of SAP S/4HANA Finance has all the features of SAP’s past financials offerings, but boosted by the in-memory capabilities of SAP HANA. It combines all of SAP ERP Financials with SAP solutions for governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), along with the analytic capabilities of SAP BusinessObjects solutions.
As you can see from Figure 8.2, SAP S/4HANA Finance has all the capabilities of SAP ERP Financials and then some.
Figure 8.2 The capabilities of SAP S/4HANA Finance
The game-changer with SAP S/4HANA Finance is that it is as robust on-premise as it is in a managed cloud (note the key word: “managed”). SAP promises that performance will be the same regardless of whether a customer wants to keep it on premise and in house, or hosted on someone else’s servers in a managed cloud, or (and this is probably the preferable option for many current SAP customers) a hybrid mix of both.
SAP S/4HANA Finance is designed to work with SAP’s user interface platform, SAP Fiori, so it will work well on desktops, laptops, tablets, or other mobile devices, such as smartphones.
The on-premise version of SAP S/4HANA Finance works pretty much like SAP financials solutions have always worked: You license the software, a capital expense, and run it on an infrastructure you own. The only significant difference with SAP S/4HANA Finance is that you also have to buy the SAP HANA server.
The cloud version runs on SAP HANA Enterprise Cloud, a managed service. SAP’s model for this service is to have the customer license the server, but then run it on servers SAP controls. Every customer gets its own server(s), but unlike with on-premise options, the customer is not allowed to make modifications. The customer manages the SAP applications and business rules that run it, but doesn’t make customizations to the software itself. And in true cloud fashion, SAP takes care of all maintenance and technical support—as well as network and application management—as part of the subscription.
According to SAP, many companies go with a hybrid solution, primarily because some part of their financial business processes already employ a cloud-based point solution, such as the Ariba Network for managing invoices, or because they have remote offices, or a subsidiary or sister company where an on-premise solution would be overkill.
SAP began rolling out SAP S/4HANA Finance (then known as SAP Simple Finance) in late 2015. The following modules were available or would soon be available:
- Credit, Disputes, and Collections
- Planning, Consolidation, and Analysis
- Cash Management
- In-House Cash
- Treasury and Risk Management
- Disclosure and Strategy
- Shared Services Framework
- Invoice Management
- Risk, Process, and Audit
- Fraud Management
SAP Integrated Business Planning is now called SAP Business Planning and Consolidation (SAP BPC) Optimized for SAP S/4HANA. It can be hosted wherever SAP S/4HANA Finance can be hosted, either on premise or in the cloud. SAP does have a pure cloud offering, which now is called SAP Cloud for Analytics. This SaaS solution comes complete with BI, planning, and GRC features now rolled up together—but rather than a Microsoft Excel interface, it has its own HTML5 user interface. We discuss this solution in more detail later.
To continue reading, please visit the full publication SAP in the Cloud: An Executive Guide