If you’ve been following our blog, you know that recently we’ve covered when and why businesses should consider migrating the SAP Central Finance and we’ve dug into the risks to avoid when implementing CFIN. In this post, I’ve connected with Victor Gazquez, a Lead Consultant at Syniti and a SAP Central Finance specialist, to discuss the keys to running an efficient and successful CFIN implementation project. Our conversation covered four main areas to take into consideration.
Be Prepared to Migrate Data Initially and Replicate Data on an On-Going Basis
For most organizations, the business case for implementing CFIN revolves around the benefits of centralizing financial data without disrupting the sources systems or business processes where the data resides. As a result, according to Gazquez, the first thing to understand about planning for a Central Finance implementation is that it goes beyond a traditional data migration project. “With a CFIN deployment, not only is it imperative to understand the data and execute on a seamless initial data load from all the source systems throughout the enterprise,” says Gazquez, “it is critical to do so in a manner that positions the company to replicate any and all transactions that take place in those source systems on an on-going basis and bring them into Central Finance in ‘near real-time’.”
Dig Deeper: Successfully Implementing SAP Central Finance Whitepaper
Ensuring the non-disruptive Central Finance model pays dividends for the business, first requires a successful data migration project - with its data mapping, harmonization and integration activities. During this portion of the project, the groundwork must be laid to ensure that after the initial data load, accurate, mission-critical data from the source systems is being replicated continuously into Central Finance. According to Gazquez, this requires the right platform. “The Syniti Knowledge Platform allows for the mapping and execution of the initial data load to Central Finance, while also positioning the organization to build off of that effort and keep the data synchronized. By leveraging Syniti Data Replicationto identify and load all recently created or updated transactions into staging tables, you can be confident the data will be validated and uploaded into Central Finance in a seamless, on-going manner.”
Get the Right Team Members Involved in Your Central Finance Implementation
To ensure the project is done right the first time, especially considering the multiple locations,divisions, business units and source systems involved in a CFIN implementation, it is important to get the right business and technical team members involved and engaged early on. This includes not only planning and project leads, but also business people associated with each source system that understand the data they rely upon. Additionally, technical team members must participate, including those specifically responsible for CFIN, as well as source system specialists and Strategic Integrators (SI’s) as appropriate. According to Gazquez, it is also important to set up a couple of ‘project teams’ to keep things on moving forward.
This group is made up of team members that 1) understand the Central Finance requirements and 2) understand the data in the source systems and which activities and data in the source systems have transactions associated with them. “The goal of the Cleansing Team is to ensure that all data associated with transactions gets accurately loaded into Central Finance, 100% of the time,” says Gazquez.
There are also some aspects of the S/4HANA Central Finance solution that are handled differently than traditional SAP systems and require the Cleansing Team to make some corrections in the source systems to keep things aligned. As an example, Gazquez points to the concept of “Business Partners” in Central Finance. “Historically, SAP has relied upon the concept of Customers and Vendors, but in S4/HANA these are now combined and are viewed as ‘Business Partners’. An approach needs to be defined early on to harmonize this data and ensure it is consolidated so Central Finance data replication and reporting works properly”
The mapping team is responsible for ensuring that all transactional data in the source systems is translated properly to CFIN via lookup tables. This team is likely to be more technical and build off of the work done by the Cleansing Team. “To put it simply, the Mapping Team makes sure that ‘this data’ from ‘that source’ means ‘this’ and goes ‘there’ and does so automatically,” says Gazquez. “Making sure these maps are accurate, tested and consistent is mission-critical to a successful CFIN implementation as the transactions need to make it over properly every time.”
Focus on Data Quality for Successful SAP Central Finance Projects
With so many source systems potentially involved in a Central Finance implementation, a focus on Data Quality is vitally important. This should start with the defining of ‘relevancy criteria’ to determine what data is in scope and what isn’t so that an enterprise doesn’t waste money or energy loading and replicating unnecessary data.
Equally important is leveraging master data definitions and policies to make sure data coming across from the source systems is consistent. According to Gazquez, “Leveraging a platform like Syniti’s with the capability to to translate source data to CFIN in a manner that keeps it consistent and harmonized allows business users to trust that the reports coming from Central Finance are accurate.”
Keeping it Going
For most data migration projects, once the data has been successfully transferred from the source systems to the target system, cleaned, harmonized and tested, the project wraps up. Not so with Central Finance. Because the business will still be running on the source systems, ensuring the transactional data is replicating to CFIN accurately and consistently is critical. This requires ongoing vigilance from technical and business team members.
From an on-going data replication point of view, the technical team must establish and look after the ‘data replication jobs’ that are running in the background and make sure they aren’t technically failing. Putting alerts in place via monitoring solutions is critical so that the team is notified immediately if a job stops running. Remember, 100% transactional accuracy is the goal.
The flip side of the coin is understanding what data has not been replicated and why it failed, and that’s where reporting comes into play. With the Syniti Knowledge Platform, data quality reporting dashboards are available in real-time, which allows business and technical teams to keep their fingers on the pulse of what data is a concern and dig into the specifics quickly so that any issues can be addressed with confidence.
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