Finance Master Data Maintenance is not a Transaction Code
Master data is the foundation upon which your finance system is built. With an effective chart of accounts, cost and profit centre hierarchy, it is easier to allocate transactions, analyze results and manage your business.
For many organizations Excel and email are the key tools being used to maintain the essential structure of their finance system. Updates to the Finance Master Data in SAP are being manually executed via transaction code. With no traceability, accuracy or consistency your finance master data is being eroded affecting compliance, reporting and ultimately decision making.
Standard SAP Fiori Apps provide transactional integration to SAP Master Data. But they pre-suppose the initiator knows everything and they don’t support custom justification fields and classifications, collaboration and review, or integration with 3rd party systems.
To be effective, master data maintenance must be viewed as a process, not simply a transaction. An efficient solution must be personalized to your unique needs. SAP Fiori can provide the technology, but it must have tailored user-interfaces (including Excel upload templates), a customized collaboration and review process and extend the SAP integration from one to multiple SAP transactions and include 3rd party system updates.
Here we look at three key steps in updating finance master data in SAP; Request, Collaboration and Review, and Update Automation. We identify the everyday issues organizations are currently facing, and how a process-centric SAP Fiori app can provide the solution.
New Master Data Requests
For many organizations, requests for new master data are based on email. This typically requires multiple iterations with the finance department to glean the necessary attributes, and even more emails to notify impacted parties. The actual update is executed manually in the system via transaction code. Traceability, consistency, accuracy and supporting documentation are all consigned to the big mailbox in the sky.
What typically goes wrong? Delays, duplicates, inaccuracies, incompleteness, inefficiency, inconsistency and non-compliance – and worst of all, misleading reporting and sub-optimal decision making.
What is required is easy to access, simple to complete, data maintenance forms. Digital forms that ensure that completeness and validity of all data input. And where the need arises, to prepare bulk master data loads in Excel templates, and have the completeness of the data validated at point of entry prior to submission. Just as important as the field attributes is the justification for the new master data. Wherever possible data attributes should be consistently derived from a reference item, rather than entered from scratch.
The form below demonstrates the initiation of a master data request and captures all the pertinent information needed to begin a traceable, consistent and accurate master data change.
Collaboration and Review
Typically, the initiator of a master data creation request does not know all the information up-front. An effective system of collaboration and expert review is required to optimize the quality and consistency of new requests. Technical assignments can be captured along the way, with each participant providing expert input.
The screen capture below provides an example of digitalizing a business processes which will often require collaboration from multiple domain experts and approvers. Fiori applications need the ability to track and transition the app between multiple states. In addition, providing visibility of the end to end process to all participants assists in removing inefficiencies and bottlenecks in the process.
At the end of the process, the update of SAP should be fully automated to ensure the integrity, accuracy and efficiency of data processing. This may involve multiple updates – for example the General Ledger Account and related Cost Element should be created simultaneously. Your environment may require a matching Profit Centre for every new Cost Centre. Groups should be automatically updated to ensure the integrity of reports.
In addition, the update may involve external systems. A new cost element may need a corresponding classification in your Concur system. Your online documentation may need to be updated. An effective master data control system needs to be able to accommodate both SAP, external and manual task assignments.
S/4 HANA and ECC
Most standard SAP Fiori apps require you to be on S/4 HANA already. However, the majority of SAP users are looking to solve finance master data issues on their current ECC version. IQX has made this entirely possible with IQX AppBuilder for SAP Fiori. All that is needed is a Gateway server or OData provisioning in the SAP Cloud Platform.
With IQX Finance Master Data Fiori Apps you will be transitioning from tcodes to user friendly, simple web forms and Excel uploads. Leveraging the technology to provide full validation and workflow automation today, and be future proof for tomorrow.
Excel templates and email are a poor way of maintaining the essential structure of your financial system. SAP Fiori provides a delightful, responsive, consistent user experience but standard apps do not support the process collaboration required to optimize the effectiveness and timeliness of finance master data maintenance.
IQX Business Solutions focuses on accelerating and controlling core business processes. Utilizing our SAP-certified IQX AppBuilder clients can cost effectively extend SAP Fiori to be an effective master data management framework with low-code form design, agile workflow and robust SAP and third-party integration.