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insideEdge with Thack Brown

by Thack Brown | SAPinsider, Volume 16, Issue 1

January 1, 2015

The challenges presently facing CFOs go beyond their traditional goals of simultaneously maintaining the financial health of their organizations while adhering to ever-increasing regulations. They now must enable the finance organization to serve as a partner to the business. SAP's Thack Brown explains how SAP Simple Finance simplifies these goals.


CFOs today face two significant challenges. One is to be the steward of the organization, ensuring its financial health while guaranteeing compliance with an ever more complex set of rules and regulations. The other is to be a strategic business partner, helping to guide investment and intelligent risk taking to expand the business. To achieve these sometimes competing objectives with finite resources, finance organizations must seek to minimize the effort spent on transactional tasks and information gathering, while maximizing the effort dedicated to being a business partner — all without putting at risk their organization’s financial integrity. CFOs need a vested partner to provide them with the information they need, when they need it, to make the right decisions in support of their business.
This is a fundamental change from even a decade ago, when IT systems were constructed primarily to meet the CFO’s most pertinent objective: to oversee the company’s finances. The systems could balance the books and provide information, but tables, aggregates, and built-in latency all conspired to stifle finance’s flexibility and limited its ability to be a partner to the business. Change was needed so that finance could look at information in new and different ways. 
Perhaps the head of sales is asking for a special pricing concession. Or maybe the CEO wants to analyze a new financial metric that hasn’t before appeared on any report. Or a new acquisition with tremendous financial implications requires that a flurry of decisions be made in real time. In today’s instant economy, a CFO doesn’t have the luxury of waiting for IT to return a query that pulls information from various sources — and that’s without wondering whether the data from those sources can be trusted.
How does an organization make this a reality without added complexity, incremental expense, and inefficient manual processes? This is the question that has guided SAP in a new direction to help our customers overcome these challenges for finance. By utilizing the power and flexibility of SAP HANA to transform core financial systems, SAP Simple Finance gives CFOs the information that they need when they need it, and provides unparalleled flexibility that makes the finance organization a true strategic business partner. It is the culmination of what Hasso Plattner called “by far the biggest improvement in the history of SAP’s enterprise systems.”1
For existing customers, SAP has provided a non-disruptive path to take advantage of these latest innovations. With SAP HANA as the engine that drives SAP Simple Finance, and SAP Fiori providing an intuitive user interface across any device, customers have at their disposal the ability to handle complexities in ways never before possible without changing the core of the systems that they have today. And for customers with a more complex landscape, a truly unique part of this offering is Central Finance, which connects data from multiple ERP instances, both SAP and non-SAP, into a central repository that provides customers with real-time access to their transactional data. New customers will be able to experience the power of SAP’s industry-leading innovations, combined with the assurance of SAP’s proven global financial systems. With additional packages and add-ons dedicated to cash management, treasury, payables, shared services, and other financials functionality as part of SAP Simple Finance, the door is unlocked for the powerful combination of instant insight across the entire organization and the velocity and efficiency of real-time business processes.
Finance is complex. SAP Simple Finance doesn’t change that — but it does put that complexity under the control of the CFO and the finance organization. That control is what turns finance into a strategic business partner.


1 “Massive Simplification: Case of SAP Financials on HANA” (November 2013;

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Thack Brown
Thack Brown

General Manager and Global Head of Line-of-Business Finance

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