Live from SAPinsider Studio: Rohana Gunawardena of QS&S on the Latest in General Ledger

An exclusive interview recorded live at Financials 2014 in Orlando

April 23, 2014

In this video recorded live at Financials 2014, Rohana Gunawardena of QS&S provides an update on the latest SAP general ledger functionality. Topics covered include the benefits of moving to the new GL functionality from SAP, challenges with GL upgrades and  migrations, how to detect errors in the GL conversion process, and tips for customization.

View the video and read our edited transcript here:

Lucy Swedberg, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Lucy Swedberg with SAPinsider. We’re here live in Orlando for our Financials 2014 conference, and I’m delighted to be joined today by Rohana Gunawardena, who is the director of the SAP practice at Quality Systems and Software, or QS&S for short. Thank you, Rohana, for joining me.

Rohana Gunawardena, QS&S: Thanks so much for inviting me Lucy, it’s great to be here.

Lucy: Great! So I know you always give a lot of sessions here at our events. I thought today we could talk about General Ledger, a hot topic year after year.

So to start, could you tell me a little bit about where the market stands today when it comes to the GL?

Rohana: With GL, for users watching, there are basically two options: classic GL, or new GL, which is officially known as SAP GL. And in many of my sessions, I have content that’s either official GL-specific or classic GL-specific . What I have to do is ask the audience, which one are you on? And it’s pretty much 50-50 right now, when people put their hands up in my sessions. I don’t know what the exact stats are, but it’s a good rough check.

I think is that there are people who are on classic GL and they’re on their roadmap, and they’d like to be on SAP GL, new GL, because they see the improved functionality. But everyone’s got priorities, they’ve got limited budgets, they might have a CRM project they need to do which is more important to their business. I think most people have got it on their roadmap, but it may not be right at the top of the roadmap. Or something happens in their business - for example, there’s a merger in their business, an acquisition, their business splits - and suddenly they need a new style of reporting, and they realize SAP GL can address that more effectively than classic GL.

Lucy: So in the customer projects that you’ve seen, can you talk about some challenges that SAP folks run into when it comes to GL migrations or upgrades?

Rohana: Right, definitely. With the move from classic GL to SAP GL, one of the biggest things I see with people is data cleanup. And this comes as a surprise. People say, “Well I’ve got classic GL, I’m already working on SAP, my data’s in SAP. It should be clean. “

But for customers that had SAP for a long time - it might be five, ten years - they’ve got a lot of historic data, and they may not have archived that off.

Even preparing for archive, to reduce the data volume, they need to do a cleanup of that data, which seems to surprise a lot of people. And people underestimate the amount of effort they need to put into the cleanup of the data.

So I think that in a lot of projects, people go in thinking it’s going to be relatively simple:  just go into this migration cockpit and make the move. Then they’ve done a couple of test runs and they realize it’s going to take longer than they envisioned.

Lucy: Is that data cleanup a prerequisite? Or have you seen folks just plow ahead and then see the consequences of not looking at their data integrity?

Rohana: I personally would say, yes, it’s a prerequisite. But a lot of people do want you to explain - because it’s not the first thing that comes to people’s mind - why they have to do data cleanup. So they’re going ahead and they think that in the next conversion the issues will go away, or they think it’s their configuration that’s the issue, rather than the underlying data.

Lucy: Interesting. I know in your session you also talk about the GL account conversion process and that sometimes you run across business processes where it’s difficult to detect errors. Could you talk about how best SAP customers can reconcile this?

Rohana: Right, so the exact conversion I gave in a session yesterday was this: If you have a GL account, it’s a regular GL account, and you want to make it open item managed. Then you can perform clearing on that account, and there’s a special SAP tool that you can run to convert the account to a process that you can go through.

This becomes very useful is on interface processes when you have documents coming and those documents have to match up - for re-post for example - and you want to check that everything’s getting re-posted clearly. Then you can use the clearing to match them off.

Then you might look at open items and you say, “OK, these aren’t cleared off”  - for example, anything that hasn’t been cleared within the last five days is probably a problem item that you need to go and investigate. So changing the account to open item can really help with focusing in on the problem items.

Lucy: There are a lot of different end users here,  ultimately. So do you have any tips on customizing the experience so it will meet different users’ needs?

Rohana: Right. A piece of functionality that is SAP standard which I feel is underutilized is Parameter IDs. In the user profile of each user, you can go and set Parameter IDs. There’s a transaction SU3, and then you can set things like default company code, default controlling area, default organization. So then when people go into transactions, values are pre-populated.

In terms of the financial transaction, there’s also transaction FB00, where people can set up their default values; those are memorized by the system so your preferred line layout for looking at, say, open AR items, are memorized and the next time you log in that layout is already there for you.

Lucy: Great. Obviously you know a lot about new GL and have seen a lot of customers. If you had to crystallize it, and pick your top piece of advice for our attendees and our readers looking for next steps here, what would you say? What would be that top piece of advice?

Rohana: For new GL, I think the thing I tell people not to underestimate the complexity of document splitting. I find a lot of people who use new GL, because one of the value-adds is document splitting. They want balancing balance sheets by profit center. But the amount of detail you need in the configuration, and also in testing, that you need to do for document splitting gets underestimated -   especially the testing because there are so many different scenarios. Often people come to production, there’s an issue that turns up in production, and then they realize they never tested that combination.

Lucy: Some excellent advice. Thank you so much, Rohana, for joining us. Again we’re live at Financials 2014 in Orlando. Thanks!

Rohana: Thank you, Lucy!     

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