The variety of real-life transformation stories shared by SAP customers and partners is among the main draws to the SAP Sapphire conference. It’s always interesting to learn about innovative approaches to enhance operational procedures, boost corporate performance, and foster growth that benefits all parties.

One of those events was the panel discussion titled “Optimize Your Top Line and Bottom Line Using Finance Innovations.” Thack Brown, the chief operating officer of SAP North America, spoke with finance executives from Excelitas Technologies Corp., Mohawk Industries Inc., and Pfizer Inc. to learn how they overcame significant obstacles in their finance departments in order to pursue robust and long-lasting business growth.

Centralized finance boosts visibility and speeds closing

It’s about top-line optimization for finance executives to manage the company. To support expansion into new business units, markets, and product categories, their organization’s entire structure must be prepared. Additionally, when done correctly, the finance team increases the bottom line’s value through efficiency, cost-cutting measures, and enhanced quality and controls.

In order to increase company financial visibility and flexibility to carry on expanding and bringing on new businesses, Excelitas Technologies made the decision to centralise its finance operation. The organisation increased visibility into the enterprise’s financials by implementing the SAP S/4HANA solution for central finance, which provided a standardised, unified single chart of accounts and a template for all entities.

For Excelitas Technologies’ fast growth strategy to be successful, Robert Ersoni, vice president of global business services, said that “our finance team needed to become an active business partner by integrating new acquisitions more swiftly. However, automated data reconciliation across business units, regions, and systems was necessary for merging fragmented SAP and third-party finance systems.

The organisation connected the SAP Central Finance Transaction Replication solution by Magnitude with SAP S/4HANA for central finance to extract data from diverse sources and unify master data. The application’s specifically designed APIs and templates speed up the integration of external ERPs and upcoming acquired businesses. Group reporting from Excelitas Technologies consolidates data using the same data structure without removing it from the business system.

Excelitas Technologies strengthened controls, attained real-time reporting, and accomplished advanced analytics thanks to an enterprise-wide perspective of its finances. The accounting department is now a collaborative, decision-making partner, which is the best outcome of all. Previously, it was just a transactional bookkeeper. In addition, BlackLine’s solution enhancements offer a quicker financial closing cycle that incorporates calendar, task management, and journal entries.

Standardized procedures are now mechanised by a service for robotic process automation that has already been developed. With group reporting done directly in the main ERP, a single chart of accounts and unified reporting eliminate data replication to produce a far faster financial closure. Even the enforcement, auditing, and evaluation of international accounting standards are more effective thanks to uniform procedures, lower risk, and improved compliance.

Business users also have access to real-time information about how each line of business is doing in relation to our strategy. They can now more quickly model and comprehend how choices affect firm finances, enabling them to respond strategically and proactively.

A unified view leads to more strategic, bolder moves

A further requirement for effective decision-making is data harmonisation. Understanding of market circumstances and economic determinants is deepened by increased data visibility, dependability, and consistency of financial, business, and market forces. Due to this benefit, planning is more accurate and reactions are more strategic across products, channels, and geographic areas.

This line of reasoning served as the inspiration for Mohawk Industries’ Flooring NA division (FLNA division), which increased the scope and depth of its examination of internal data footprint in order to integrate predictions with core ERP operations. The digital environment of Mohawk Industries had a combination of SAP and independent ERPs dispersed around the world. While Mohawk Industries is working to implement SAP S/4HANA throughout its key divisions, the FLNA division in Georgia has had trouble fully integrating its financial forecasting system with its core ERP and business processes.

To enhance what-if analysis and data-driven decision-making, according to Chintan Sandesara, global senior director of finance systems at Mohawk Industries, a single source of truth is required. In order to visualise each business unit using uniform data and KPIs, we had to adopt a cross-functional collaborative strategy. We were able to see information from all business units in one place thanks to a coordinated planning system.

The SAP Analytics Cloud solution served as the company’s starting point for its digital transformation journey. The entire financial planning and analytics team could concentrate more on the strategic components of planning with better forecast forecasts and accuracy by having a complete perspective of the business and less time was spent on data mining. In exchange, the FLNA segment is quicker to adapt to changing market circumstances.

According to Sandesara, “We upgraded our systems and helped create a smooth connection between our operations and financials with a modern foundation for expanded planning and analysis and cross-functional communication. “We were able to identify process and driver deficiencies and rationalise our cost centres for planning. In order to affect profitability and accelerate the speed at which we can make more precise and strategic operational decisions across business units, products, and channels, we also coordinated our cost tracking methodologies.

Automated close cycles drive cost out of finance

The effectiveness of financial closing is typically seen as a discussion of cost reduction from the bottom up. The subject rapidly shifts into a digital vision for an intelligent organisation, nevertheless, when the procedure is automated.

Take Pfizer as an illustration. The multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology organisation tested the “SAP S/4HANA cloud solution for Advanced Financial Closing (AFC)” and went online with a select group of North American businesses in the second half of 2021. The deployment was also expanded globally by the first half of 2022 to include all subsidiaries in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

According to Rajesh Hase, senior director of digital finance solutions at Pfizer, “the speed at which we adopted SAP AFC is illustrative of how much we trusted in the direction of our digital strategy.” “The solution allows us to accelerate the worldwide close process by improving period-end task planning, execution, monitoring, and analysis.”

Given that the project’s scope spans roughly 450 businesses, 100% of income is derived from a single SAP instance, real-time monitoring and analytics are essential. Currently, the SAP AFC solution is used internationally for all of the company’s record-to-report closure tasks.

“A crucial factor in our success was a wonderfully close and trustworthy connection with our business stakeholders and implementation partner. Due to the fact that we are an early adopter, SAP’s customer care specialists have provided us with exceptional support as well, noted Hase.

One advantage of choosing a cloud solution is having access to updates and new features on a regular basis, which eliminates the need to plan and budget for a significant upgrade every few years. In the future, Pfizer intends to expand automation throughout the company and benefit from improvements in line with SAP’s roadmap.

“Now that we have our global closing information standardised and simplified on a single instance, our next step is to benchmark the present process, acquire additional insight, and discover additional possibilities for improvement,” Hase said in his conclusion.

Great conversations inspire finance innovations

I want to start by expressing my gratitude to Robert Ersoni, Chintan Sandesara, and Rajesh Hase for visiting us at SAP Sapphire and sharing their experiences with financial transformation. It’s always wonderful to learn about fresh and original methods that finance firms might use to assist their companies in operating more successfully.

Additionally, SAP is incredibly fortunate to have a large number of additional customers contribute their personal experiences. Please explore them here if you’d like.