In this podcast, featured speaker and author Paul Ovigele reviews the major 2013 trends in SAP ERP Financials, and what SAP finance users should be looking for in 2014.
Transcript of the interview:
Allison Martin: Hello, my name is Allison Martin with SAPinsider and I’m the Conference Producer of the SAPinsider Financials event. I’m joined today by Paul Ovigele, who is CEO of Ovigele Consulting and an SAP consultant, trainer, and author, who is also one of the featured speakers at our SAP Financials event. How are you today, Paul?
Paul: I’m well Allison, thanks for having me.
Allison: Good. And for those of us listening that may not know you well, can you provide a little bit of information on your background and involvement with SAP Financials?
Paul: Yes, well I got into the SAP Financials field in 1997, I graduated as an accountant and my first job was a power-user, on SAP implementation. I was working with a financials team and I was acting as a sort of liaison between the finance team and the IT department and while I was working with the consultants, I realized this was something that I wanted to do myself, so I learned a lot on that job and I started to do consulting independently after that. And I’ve worked in several companies in the US and Europe, I’ve worked in several industries, such as entertainment, chemical, consumer goods, steel, and several others. I’m kind of, ah, I see myself as a FICO generalist, and I like to be knowledgeable about a vast number of areas in the module and I definitely know that you can’t know everything in this vast space, and I find myself learning something new on every project and that’s probably why I’m still doing what I’m doing.
Allison: Well great. Thanks for the great introduction. So the purpose of today’s podcast is to give listeners some insights into some of the most relevant changes and trends in the SAP Financials market in 2013, and maybe some insight into what’s to come in 2014. Paul, what would you say are some of the big trends that you’ve seen affect financial teams in 2013, especially in the SAP space?
Paul: Well, it is hard to ignore the big, well what I would call the big three trends, which are mobility, cloud, and in-memory database. And that’s not just because of all the publicity they’ve been getting, I think finance teams are realizing the benefits they can gain from these technologies, things like better transparency of data, more flexible analytical capabilities, less reliance on paper, and also better ability to take action based on the insights they get from this real-time data.
Now, from the clients that I have, they haven’t all transitioned to all these technologies, that’s probably based on things like cost, and not wanting to be early adopters. But basically everyone is talking about it, and it’s just a matter of time for companies to take on these new technologies.
Allison: Great, thanks. And I know you mentioned this a little bit in your previous response, but how do you really see mobility or cloud affecting the finance organization?
Paul: Well, cloud computing is a more cost-efficient method to use, it’s also cheaper to maintain and upgrade, and I think the…less reliance on the hardware and also the space that’s needed to store this hardware will lead to reduced costs. And obviously this is always an attractive prospect for the financial department. Also, the storage capabilities are better and that means you can have a lot of financial information stored without having the risk of running into the risk of running out of storage space, which also means less reliance on paper, which leads to possible duplication of data and errors and other things like that. Also you have easier access to the information, so if you’re using a cloud platform, as long as you have an internet access, you’re very likely to be able to retrieve the data regardless of where you are in the world, or what time zone you are in. So that’s a huge advantage.
Allison: Great, great.
Paul: Now when you combine this with mobile technologies, the, you can also access the information on the move, so I think that finance teams have become a little bit more proactive than reactive, which is what they’ve kind of been, in the past, and it will help them facilitate quicker and more effective decisions. Now the big disadvantage I think, at the moment, with cloud technology, is security. And it may not be a real disadvantage but it’s certainly a perceived disadvantage because of the perception of a lack of security when something’s in the cloud, rather than when it’s right on your premises, and I think that this is still a big reason why companies haven’t readily adopted this technology.
Allison: Well great. And are there any big changes that you’re preparing clients for in 2014?
Paul: Well, I’m preparing clients, particularly those in the area I deal with, like controllers and CFOs, to get more involved in the IT projects that are concerning the [areas? Errors? 00:05:15]. Gone are the days of leaving the ownership of these projects to IT teams and then only later on finding out that the financial department’s requirements have not been fully represented. Because right now, the impact of these new technologies that I mentioned earlier, is that the layers that exist between initially posting a document and the subsequent reporting, by senior management and executives, those layers are disappearing. So it basically means that if you don’t set up the system correctly, those advantages that I talked about from having quicker and more convenient data, could be offset by the disadvantage of not having the data properly sanitized before it’s viewed by the executives.
To give you an example, sales, someone from the sales team could pull a billing document, and before a finance member can actually review it and check if it reconciles, a CEO who’s on the train or on the plane going somewhere else can get that data. And so, if you don’t have the system set up properly, you could end up having so many issues with data because of the speed of the—the nature of the speed of data and how easy it is to access it. So that is something that I think, just the proper involvement by the finance team in IT projects, and getting requirements properly represented, is what will alleviate some of these issues. Now, in the past, I’ve worked with a lot of accountants and they’ve had the luxury of being able to investigate and correct issues before publishing them to—either by printing them out or publishing them on some other platform for the executives to see, but this luxury is quickly diminishing, so I think this is something I’m definitely preparing finance teams for and they should know about the positive and negative changes that these new technologies will have on their working lives.
Allison: Great, well thanks so much for your time today, and I really look forward to hearing you present at our upcoming Financials 2014 Conference in March.
Paul: So do I, thank you very much Allison!
Allison: Thanks Paul.