Recently, 5 leading SAP Financials experts -- Terri Bold, Gary Fullmer, Nathan Genez, Penny Silvia, and Tara Sitaram -- answered questions from Insider Learning Network members in an exclusive Financials 2011 Ask-the-Experts online forum on Wednesday, March 16, 2011. The following is an edited excerpt of the full forum.
Featured Experts & Topics
Terri Bold, Dolphin
Accounts payable automation and workflow, managing projects for SAP business process improvements, managing content and information lifecycles with SAP
Gary Fullmer, Ernst & Young
Enhanced financial closing, SAP Financial Closing cockpit, SAP General Ledger migration issues, and peek at enhancement pack content enhancements in CO
Nathan Genez, Serio Consulting
Asset Accounting, Investment Management, Project Systems, IFRS
Penny Silvia, IBM
Selecting the right reporting tool for the job, self-service analytics, financial reporting, BI implementations and upgrades
Tara Sitaram, focusSAP
SAP business consolidation-closes, SAP b
usiness planning, SAP BusinessObjects Planning and Consolidation
Allison: Welcome to the Financials 2011 online Ask-the-Experts forum on Insider Learning Network in the Financials Conference Group. Thanks for joining us!
jgreggo: I would like some documentation on the Closing Cockpit transaction CLOCOS please. Do you know where I can obtain information about this transaction? I have searched extensively and cannot find anything of substance. I need to provide training to management in the Aggregated View.
Daniel: I would be interested [in some documentation on the CLOCOS] as well.
GARY FULLMER: SAP's Closing Cockpit is a standard feature found in ERP6.0. To run it effectively you should install EP3.
The best source of information on that SAP product would be your SAP representative.
And one more thought. There were at least 2 presentations given at the Las Vegas conference. I would suggest you go the web site and look for presentations given by Stefan Karl of SAP. Cheers Gary
jgreggo: Hi Gary- We are currently using the Closing Cockpit successfully, but I am looking for further instructions and/or documentation on the specific transaction CLOCOS which is the Aggregated View. No one seems to have further information about it. We do not have a specific SAP Representative.
GARY FULLMER: Hi in that case I would suggest you reach out directly to Pete Graham at SAP. His email address in email@example.com. If Pete cannot answer the questions I'm sure he can direct you to the correct person. Feel free to tell Pete I gave you his contact info.
jgreggo: Thank you very much. I will go ahead and contact Pete.
GlenSchepers: During some preliminary New GL migration discussions, it was mentioned that it might be desirable to have Depreciation Area 1 defined as US GAAP. We've got Depreciation Area 1 currently as local GAAP. Is this a true requirement for SAP GL, and if so, how big of a task is it to redefine Area 1 to US GAAP?
Nathan Genez: It isn't a hard requirement for 01 to be defined as US GAAP but keep in mind that area 01 is the only area to update CO. Therefore, if area 01 isn't US GAAP then the management reporting isn't in US GAAP.
The options to convert (that I know of today) are:
- Engage SAP's Business Transformation Group (also known as SLO) to migrate the ledger, or
- Re-implement FI-AA into a new box or company codes and switch during the load.
Sydnie McConnell: We are in the middle of a reimplementation/new implementation project, and debating whether our leading ledger should be US GAAP or IFRS. Based on this, we will also need to make the same decision for our depreciation area(s), correct?
Yes. There must be symmetry between the accounting treatment in the GL / Ledger and the depreciation area that is assigned to it.
In my opinion, other than the GL itself, the Fixed Assets area has more design, integration, and implementation points than any other module in FICO as it relates to NewGL and IFRS.
Sydnie McConnell: In Project Systems, we would like to capture actual costs (including labor costs) for certain types of projects. I'm familiar with using activity types/activity rates for capturing labor, but at a planned/standard rate. Is there a standard way to capture the employee's actual labor rate for project labor, maybe through CATS or another method?
Nathan Genez: CATS is one method but it still requires some planned rates via either an activity type or a task type / level combination. I'm not sure about how to enter a rate value during a CATS entry but would assume/hope that it's possible.
Another option that some companies use, at least primarily for external labor, is to flow those values through an invoice to a PO and charge it to the project. But you lose the actual hours in that scenario.
As a replacement for program RAZUGA01 an asset history sheet has to be developed. Is there available documentation or instructions for how to develop the asset history sheet?
Nathan Genez: There was at the SAP Financials conference in Vegas last week! I've presented on Asset History Sheets a few times at various conferences. I'll track down the documents and post them to our website (serioconsulting.com/knowledge_center.html)
Thank you so much. Would you please let me know when the documents are posted on your website so I can view them? Cool
Ronnie Jones: We were wondering if there is a way to change the depreciation posting date from being the last day of the fiscal period. Thanks.
Nathan Genez: Ronnie -- I had thought that there was an OSS note for this but I might have been mistaken because I'm not seeing it.
I would think this could be done via an FI line item substitution. Worst case, an enhancement is required in the code to make the determination of the date based on the function of the posting. The BADIs in the NewDCP (FAA_DC_CUSTOMER and FAA_EE_CUSTOMER) will not work here... they only impact how the depreciation amounts are calculated, not posted.
Ronnie Jones: Thanks Nathan, I will look into the substitution!
Melanie Obeid: Hello,
What are some of your top best practices or do's & don'ts for managing change in an accounts payable project?
Terri Bold: Some of the most successful projects have full commitment and involvement from the business as well as AP from the beginning. Likewise, a strong executive sponsor who remains updated and involved, even high-level, will help ensure buy-in from the business. Finally, communication, communication, communication, particularly by the key project team members (knowledge workers) to their peers is extremely important.
Aja Norton: Hi,
What are some of the requirements that you recommend when SAP customers are looking into co
nsolidation and planning solutions? What do customers often miss during the evaluation phase?
Thank you, Aja
I think you should first evaluate your needs such as:
- Entries that have to be made
- Processes that must be executed (elims, consols, tax)
- Controls that have to be met
- Currencies, intercompany recons, etc. and then review the different software that is available and choose the one that best meet your needs.
There are a lot of other points - I made a presentation on this topic at Vegas. If you have some time, you may want to review.
All the best
HaifengWang: Hi, I have two questions:
- We're trying to get the inflation done on fixed assets for our entity in Mexico. What's the best way to do that? Any documentation we can refer to? That shouldn't create any financial postings to our US GAAP ledger.
- Regarding automatic cash application in SAP, if we get a MT940 file from our bank, would we be able to load it to SAP? Or does SAP only accept certain types of files?
Nathan Genez: SAP has two separate scenarios in regards to inflation: periodic and one-time. Are you expecting to account for inflation as part
of your period end close process or is it only required every few years?
HaifengWang: As part of our period end close process. Thanks.
Nathan Genez: In that case, it's potentially difficult. The one-time revaluation using AR29 is simpler though it has a fair amount of configuration and processing steps. But J1AI is a bit more tricky.
Yes, inflation will not post to area 01 but will update FI via the depreciation run. It is best to track the inflation values in a separate area.
Davin Wilfrid: Hi Gary,
Last year we spoke briefly about the SEC's convergence plan for IFRS/US GAAP. (Some were calling it "IFRS by stealth.") However, I haven't heard as much buzz about IFRS this year as in years past. Can you give us a quick update on where things are and whether the likelihood of imminent adoption by the SEC has changed at all?
GARY FULLMER: Hi Davin -- The SEC still has not made a formal decision regarding the adoption of IFRS. This delay has caused many customers to back away from the hard decisions required for IFRS adoption.
However there is another accounting transformation project currently underway that should be part of the current discussions. This is called accounting convergence. Briefly the SEC is running about 12 separate accounting transformation projects at this time. Some examples are Revenue Rec, Lease Accounting and Financial Instruments.
The overall idea is to move the US GAAP standards closer to the IFRS standards over time. As such you should be aware of the convergence projects and the impact on your current accounting procedures.
As with the IFRS discussion the changes to the financial landscape and overall financial design are still in scope and should be currently under discussion.
Further information on the convergence
project can be found on the SEC web site or any Accounting Partners web page.
Hope that helps. Gary
Laura Casasanto: Hi all,
I sometimes see that reports are an afterthought in Financials implementations. Why do you think companies have difficulty including report design earlier in a Financials implementation project? How do you avoid sloppy, rushed report design prior to go-live?
Terri Bold: Hi,
A thorough review of all 'As-Is' reporting requirements is necessary at the beginning of a project. Likewise, choosing to implement a proven solution whether it's for AP, AR, Order Management or other will provide the bulk of best-practice/most commonly required reports. Also, a financial workflow project solution should include a robust, comprehensive reporting and tracking tool that can easily be adjusted according to individual filtering, sorting and reporting needs simply through use of variants and ALV report grids. Lastly, it may still be necessary to set aside a placeholder of time for last minute requests, typically during UAT to allow for time to gather requirements and do development and testing before the move to Production.
Thank you for the question.
Kristine Erickson: I'd like to slip in one last question...
Any advice for readers on best practices for AP workflows? Is it better to have an AP workflow inside SAP using its toolsets, or to set it up externally?
Terri Bold: Thank you for the great question. This is a popular topic these days so I'll try to be brief with some bullet points.
- With non-SAP workflows you will end up with a solution that tries to emulate SAP posting transactions such as FB60/MIRO in a non-SAP application and this interface has to be constantly kept up to date with those transactional interfaces in SAP, with SAP patches and upgrades and/or internal configuration changes.
- An SAP centric solution does not prevent you from having a centralized AP solution that can track and process invoices that relate to other production SAP systems or even non-SAP systems. Robust SAP platform can still be leveraged to manage the invoice life-cycle though built-in AEI capabilities of NetWeaver platform.
- Your SAP system is already regularly backed up, monitored and has High Availability and Disaster Recovery plans in place. An external system would need those operational tasks duplicated.
- An external workflow system requires additional hardware, storage, database licensing, and more than likely a different set of expertise which would require additional IT and Operations resources.
- Every interface into and out of SAP for data creates another potential point of failure and quite possibly performance issues both for the workflow user and SAP Production. SAP licensing also needs to be carefully analyzed.
- An external workflow may require regular refreshes of exported SAP data which not only creates duplicate data but could create synchronization issues.
- SAP workflow has inherent, immediate access to live data for validation and verification. Likewise, your SAP system is already configured with business rules for data that is leveraged with an SAP workflow.
- An external workflow requires your business users, particularly knowledge workers, to have multiple application windows open. Change Management and training on a new user interface can be very disruptive to the bus
- Workflows within SAP that are certified by SAP are guaranteed to remain compatible with future SAP releases, Enhancement Packs and Service Packs. External workflows may require significant changes that may cause upgrade delays and therefore business disruption.
As you can see, we are asked that question frequently. Thanks again for your post.
Allison: Thanks to all who posted questions and followed the discussion. A full summary of all the questions will be posted in the Financials Conference Group page.
And thank you again to our speakers -- Tara Sitaram, Terri Bold, Penny Silvia, Gary Fullmer, and Nathan Genez.