Live from SAPinsider Studio: Birgit Starmanns of SAP on SAP Simple Finance

June 16, 2015

Birgit Starmanns, SAP Senior Director Product Marketing, visits with SAPinsider Studio during the FIN 2015 event in Las Vegas to discuss SAP Simple Finance. Starmanns addresses many of the frequently asked questions about the product, and lays out cloud and on-premise roadmaps. Topics of the discussion include:

  • The rearchitecture of the FI/CO modules in SAP Accounting powered by SAP HANA
  • Deployment scenarios for Simple Finance as Central Journal
  • How Simple Finance removes redundancies
  • How Integrated Business Planning in Simple Finance ties EPM more closely to Financials

View the video, and read the edited version of the transcript here:

Ken Murphy, SAPinsider: Hi, this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider and I am at the SAPinsider Financials and GRC 2015 event in Las Vegas. This afternoon I am pleased to be joined by Birgit Starmanns, who is the Senior Director of Product Marketing for SAP. Birgit, welcome.

Birgit Starmanns, SAP: Thank you so much Ken.

Ken: I was hoping you could introduce yourself and your role and responsibilities to our viewers.

Birgit: Sure, my name is Birgit Starmanns as Ken just mentioned. And I’ve been in the SAP ecosystem for about 25 years; about 16 years within SAP and the last several years I’ve had a product marketing role. So basically I’m responsible for messaging Simple Finance and the innovations that are related to that.

Ken: And Simple Finance – we heard a lot about it during the keynote this morning from Thack Brown. What is Simple Finance? What do consumers and customers need to know?

Birgit: Simple Finance is the term we use for our entire portfolio of Financial Solutions. So we have 5 end-to-end processes, everything from Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A), Accounting and Financial Close, Treasury and Financial Risk Management, Collaborative Finance Operations, and Enterprise Risk and Compliance. So that encompasses both ERP Financials, EPM, and GRC. Of course here at SAPinsider with a lot of install base customers, what customers really want to know is “What did we do that is new within Simple Finance?” And that is part of my role of marketing the innovations and how we optimize Simple Finance to take advantage of our in-memory platform SAP HANA.

Ken: Can you provide some more detail on that and maybe highlight some of those innovations?

Birgit: Sure.  With these innovations we now have exactly the same database, the transactional database that we use for transactions as well as analytics as well as planning. So there’s no more need to move data from one system to the other because basically we’re eliminating the redundancies. We no longer need totals tables. So essentially whenever a transaction hits a customer can see it right away. We use SAP Fiori to highlight these things, and customers can still go ahead and drill down to that low-level detail. So this re-architecting of the FI and CO modules we call SAP Accounting powered by SAP HANA. And this morning in the keynote we also heard about SAP Cash Management powered by SAP HANA, looking at liquidity forecasts, leveraging the treasury function that is part of ERP financials and providing that in a role-based dashboard. And then the other innovation that we have is Integrated Financial Planning, or Integrated Business Planning. Essentially bringing our planning solution closer together with ERP Financials.

Ken: Are all of those modules included with off-the-shelf Simple Finance? I’m curious if I’m running SAP ERP Financials can I continue to run some functions in ERP Financials and others in SAP Simple Finance?

Birgit: Basically what a lot of customers do we have something called a sidecar scenario, so if a customer wants to just put a piece of the functionality onto HANA they can still maintain their on-premise system without HANA and then take just those scenarios, whether it’s Profitability Analysis, Intercompany Reconciliation, Receivables Management, and run just that on HANA if they so choose. So there’s basically a path where it’s not an all-or-nothing scenario so that is definitely possible.

Ken: Is there any confusion from customers as far as a migration roadmap?

Birgit: I think a lot of customers, at least from what we saw in the jumpstart session we did yesterday, they are starting to look at defining their roadmap. I think they have a lot of information, they’ve all heard of Simple Finance now, they’re starting to delve into the details and we see all different kinds of scenarios from customers doing a sidecar scenario to other customers saying they want to put everything on Simple Finance right away. So there’s definitely a lot of different options. We also have multiple deployment modes. So customers can either be on-premise or cloud or a hybrid scenario. And finance tends to be a little bit conservative so we’re seeing more interest in the hybrid scenario so that something like the Ariba Network for supplier evaluation or invoice management is a point solution that they’re more comfortable having just a piece of it in the cloud while they still continue to run on-premise.

Ken: So how do I know what’s the right deployment option for my company? What questions do an organization need to ask themselves to figure that out?

Birgit: I think part of it is to see how many systems they have. In the background we’ve got a Central Journal scenario where if you have multiple legacy systems you can put everything onto one platform running on SAP HANA and still leave those other legacy systems in place. It depends on really what other modules are out there and the integration points that are already out there in place between finance and logistics, and then really the appetite that the customer has for going into the cloud. I think the answer’s going to be different for every single company. We’re seeing some scenarios in the cloud where customers who have subsidiaries or they just acquired a company, that’s a great scenario for that piece of the organization to be in the cloud even if the rest of the organization is not ready to go off premise yet.

Ken: What if an organization is already running SAP HANA on-premise and they want to transfer to the cloud and take advantage of SAP Simple Finance in the cloud? What are the steps there?

Birgit: We actually have an adoption journey roadmap where customers can see what the scope is; they can define the different scenarios that are of interest to them. They can get a report that is customized to them of what would make sense. We’re also rolling out a 30-day free trial, so they can take their data and put it into the cloud and they can start working with it. And then after that they can activate SAP Accounting and then we also have some webinars and other customer experiences out there so they can see what other customers have learned and the benefits that other customers have achieved.

Ken: How long is that 30-day trial offer good for?

Birgit: We’re just rolling it out so it’ll be out within the next few weeks but we also have a link on the website that customers can already sign up for it and they’ll be contacted, and then there are services that are associated with that.

Ken: And what is that website to get more information?

Birgit: The easy link is If you want to go directly to the journey map it is and you can go directly there.

Ken: Well you’ve covered a lot on Simple Finance is there anything you haven’t mentioned that is important for attendees of this event to take away?

Birgit: I would say that at this event particularly most of our detailed sessions that are run by SAP really delve into the details of Simple Finance. We did that jumpstart, I’m doing an overview tomorrow. But even the individual sessions – for example there’s one specifically on cash management, one specifically on SAP Accounting, so we really tried to make sure that we can provide customers with the latest and greatest information.

Ken: Birgit, thanks for joining us.

Birgit: Thank you Ken.

Ken: Again this is Ken Murphy with SAPinsider and we are at the SAPinsider Financials and GRC 2015 event, and we have been chatting with Birgit Starmanns of SAP.

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