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Introducing Portals Technology to Simplify Financial Workflows for All Your Users: SAP's Financial Portal Solution

by Ariane Skutela | SAPinsider

April 1, 2003

by Ariane Skutela, SAP AG SAPinsider - 2003 (Volume 4), April (Issue 2)
 

Users of your financial systems — executives, managers, financial staff, accountants — require financial content, information, and tools to analyze data, often gathered from various sites, units, and even time zones. Document sharing, requests for information, invoices, receipts, key indicators, budget and forecasting, and approvals — the financial processes required to gather and update this information touch many users across the company.

Of course, whenever collaboration is required across multiple sources, portals are an ideal technology. Now, SAP customers can introduce portals into their financials applications with SAP’s Financial Portal Solutions. mySAP Financials now provides portal solutions to support role-specific, task-oriented content integration with easy accessibility for the user. Portal solutions also hide system complexity from users, bringing them just the applications they need. Using mySAP Enterprise Portal technology, financial professionals and even occasional users can work with an intuitive, unified user interface for the applications, resources, and data stores required.

Benefits of the SAP Financial Portal Solution
Benefits as simple as fewer rounds of emails and phone calls, minimal re-keying of data, or easier document-sharing across locations and time zones bring dramatic efficiencies to financial workflows. With the portal as the central point of access to financial data, users avoid information overload and increase their productivity. SAP’s Financial Portal Solutions provide users with clear communication channels, self-services, and end-to-end integrated Internet processes. The result is increased return on investments in data and infrastructure, leveraging information already available within your current system.

This article introduces you to just a few of the portal offerings for executives, managers, and financial teams. All the following Portal Solutions are currently available and are part of the mySAP Financials, mySAP Human Capital Management, mySAP Business Suite, and mySAP ERP solutions.

Executives
From the Executive Portal, top management and executives can benefit from up-to-date and easy-to-handle information access for fast, clear, relevant facts about the company’s key performance indicators (see Figure 1) as well as financial market data. With data from sources inside and outside the company, the portal acts as the central source of information for easier, faster analysis. Features include:

  • The Management Cockpit in the Executive Portal, shown in Figure 1, which provides consolidated access to crucial reports along with a general overview of key figures and company progress.

  • SAP SEM Balanced Scorecards, from which executives monitor company-wide strategies as well as consolidation processes. Key data is pulled straight from SAP’s Strategic Enterprise Management in real time for consistent, up-to-date information.
Figure 1 The Executive Portal — Management Cockpit

Managers
SAP Manager Self-Service provides managers throughout your enterprise with:

  • Monitors and alerts for cost drivers like internal orders, activities, capacities, and assets that allow them to instantly pull the strings in business-critical situations.

  • The ability to execute finance and human capital management strategies for budgeting, recruitment, compensation, and cost management, which also creates real return on investment (ROI) for your finance and HR departments.

  • SAP’s Internet Service Requests (ISR), a generic tool that ties web forms together with tailored workflows to replace manual processes and to streamline interaction with corporate administration and other lines of businesses. This paves the way for HR and finance staff to focus on strategic issues.

With portals, centralized departments such as Controlling or HR can more easily pass along information and tasks to managers wherever they might be located.

Financial Staff
With SAP’s Corporate Finance Portal (see Figure 2), financial staff in any group have a platform for collaborative business processes. With workflows, real-time document-sharing, and collaboration features built in, complex tasks are completed more quickly. The Corporate Finance Portal offers:

  • Control mechanisms that allow financial staff to monitor critical financial events.

  • Workflows and collaboration features that support processes like planning and forecasting, cash flow analysis, intercompany charging, monthly closing, and delivery of reporting data.

  • Corporate guidelines, global chart of accounts, international accounting standards, and other unstructured information made available to all users.

Much of your data collection efforts can become redundant — all users work in one system using the Corporate Finance Portal. The result is improved communication and streamlined processes for near-term cost savings.

Figure 2 Business Planning Within the Corporate Finance Portal

Additional Financial Portal Solutions Available
Other mySAP Financials Portal Solutions currently available include biller direct, credit and dispute management in a customer-facing portal, as well as portal solutions for business travellers, such as trip planning, trip approval, and expense claims.

All Financial Portal Solutions are industry-independent, meaning that they can be used in every company and any industry. They are currently available as part of mySAP Financials, mySAP Human Capital Management, mySAP ERP, and mySAP Business Suite.

All Financial Portal Solutions are recommended from these releases onward: R/3 4.6C, SEM 3.1B, and BW 3.0.

One Example of How Portals Can Streamline Financial Workflow
Let’s take a closer look at one scenario for collaborative business planning with the Corporate Finance Portal, which supports the profit-planning process scenario modeled in Figure 3.

Figure 3 Collaborative Business Planning Process

This process starts with the corporate accountant. From a review of targets set by the company board and by unit management, the accountant drafts an estimate of profits for the upcoming period/year for all units. This is then forwarded to local accountants, who verify their figures against headquarters’. In cases of discrepancies, local accountants send a request change. The corporate accountant reviews the new figures, recalculates them, and sends the new version to the subsidiaries, where local accountants finalize this new version — possibly after several passes. Finally, the corporate accountant freezes and consolidates this version, plans the allocations for these units, and completes the final profit plan for the entire group.

With SAP’s Corporate Finance Portal, the whole process can be completed via the portal with easy document-sharing, and with all access to data, plan versions, documents, and scheduling information via the portal.

Consider the sheer number of processes like these for financial users across your own company, and you get a sense of the scope of the efficiencies to be gained by the utilization of SAP Financial Portal Solutions. Further information on all the features and benefits of Financial Portal Solutions is available at www.sap.com/financials. Additional information for SAP customers and partners is available at http://service.sap.com/FinPortals.


Ariane Skutela is a product manager at SAP AG in Germany. Currently focused on mySAP Financials Portal Solutions, she works with customers to determine their product needs and requirements for product planning and development. Ariane has several years’ experience in logistics and IT controlling, involving the development of concepts, software training, and management consulting. She is a frequent speaker at SAP conferences. Ariane holds a graduate degree in business economics.

 

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