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SAP Financial Consolidation on HANA – Value and benefits

SAP Financial Consolidation on HANA – Value and benefits

The support of SAP HANA for BFC v10 as an underlying database, in addition to Microsoft SQL and Oracle, has been released a year ago with the SP12 in Q4 2013. The second step for SAP has been to leverage the in-memory technology from a reporting perspective, in order to considerable simplifies the BFC reporting architecture. With SAP Financial Consolidation 10.0 SP15, SAP brings SAP HANA integration for BFC to the next level and helps you unleash the power of real-time analytics on consolidated data.

Simpler, faster, bigger

In a nutshell, BFC on HANA reporting is about reporting simpler, faster, and bigger, and simplifying your overall architecture.

1- Report Simpler:

Get a real-time finance data reporting base ready to consume:

  • No more data replication and cubes complexity
  • Guarantee to always query on the latest available data
  • Through SAP EPM Add-in, SAP BI tools, and any BI tools supported by SAP HANA.

2- Report Faster:

Faster decision making:

  • More time for value-add financial analysis and simulations

3- Report Bigger:

Deal with big data but no compromise on performance:

  • Merge seamlessly consolidation reporting with any other HANA reporting

Leverage existing application and push back the limits:

  • Increase reporting granularity

Prepare for the future:

  • Ability to respond to CFO / management requests and support key initiatives

4- Simplify your architecture:

  • Simplified environment (one single database for transactional and analytics)
  • Security synchronization
  • Real time data, metadata and security update
  • Unrivalled performance
  • Big data ready

Benefits of BFC on HANA for business users and the IT organization:

Immediate benefits for business users:

  • Leverage existing FC application and push back the limits
    • No big bang and no risk (existing FC App will be adapted to HANA platform but no project redo)
    • Performance improvements in all the different modules of FC solution
    • Get better, deeper insight into all your financial consolidated data

  • Get a high speed finance data reporting base ready to consume
    • Faster access to financial information for decision making - Real time reporting and management book setup through SAP EPM Microsoft Office Add-In (no more data replication and cubes complexity)
    • More time for value-add financial analysis and simulations
    • Ability to respond to CFO / management requests and support key initiatives
    • Deal with Big Data but no compromise on performance: with one single version of truth to serve any type of reporting analysis and user typology

  • Prepare the future
    • Flexible and scalable to be extended to other EPM solutions (FP&A, possibly Intercompany, Disclosure Management) in the near future
    • Reinvent your Reporting Strategy and Give real time consolidated figures access to a larger number of business users

Immediate benefits for IT:

  • Reduce, simplify and harmonize technical platform
    • DB storage reduction (impacting backup and restore procedures): 6 to 7 times less HD space required
    • No more data replication and SSAS cubes administration
    • No more transfer time from FC DB  to MS cubes

  • Typical immediate performance gains:
    • Standard FC Reports: Performance Gains are 30 to 40% without any parameterization changes
    • XLS retrieve reports: Performance Gains are 50 to 100% without any parameterization changes
    • Consolidation run duration: Performance Gains are 20% max without any parameterization changes
    • 200 million rows of FC consolidated data populate HANA views in less than 1 min.
    • EPM add-in: 2 seconds to navigate into report dealing with 1 billion rows of FC consolidated data

BFC on HANA real-time reporting:

The goal of HANA real-time reporting through FC 10.0 SP15 is to provide our customers with:

  • A simplified environment to run their financial reporting on top of FC consolidated data
    • Simplified functionally: only the relevant dimensions and hierarchies will be selected for the reporting
    • Simplified technically:  the IT landscape is also simplified through less technical layers such as MS Data Pump, UDF for security or SSAS
  • Security synchronization
    • FC security settings defined in Data Access Groups (DAG) are available in HANA within roles and analytic privileges
    • DAG are being updated overtime so that HANA and FC security are always aligned
  • Real time update of data, metadata and security
    • Any time new dimension members and consolidated data are available in FC, they are instantaneously visible in the reporting
    • Any time a DAG are updated, they are updated in HANA
  • Unrivalled performance
    • With HANA the performance is just amazing (benchmarks and customer reference’s data available on demand)
  • Big data ready
    • The reporting is real time even with big data / massive amounts of records (merge in HANA data from several sources)

Fig 1 – Universal direct reporting

The ultimate objective is to retrieve data in BI tools or Microsoft Excel. This data is the consolidation data processed by FC and stored in the HANA database.

To achieve this, we first have to create a unique fact table with the consolidation data that must be retrieved. We create this unique “fact table” to easily retrieve data coming from different consolidations in one single dashboard or report. Even if there is a replication of data in FC, we still talk about real time because the fact table is refreshed with new data very quickly, managed by FC with the frequency that the customer want.

How does it work? It’s a stored procedure executed by a consolidation rule. So you can execute it at the end of the consolidation, or at the frequency you define in the FC scheduler.

Fig 2 – Prepare data for reporting: the fact table

Then we create HANA Information Views (or Analytic Views). The views are a logical definition on top of FC data and metadata: there is no replication of data in the cubes, like in SSAS or BW. That’s why there is real time with FC.

Fig 3 – Generate the HANA views for reporting

The HANA Information View can be manually created in HANA Studio, but what SAP provides is an end-user UI where the views are defined. Basically in this UI you will define which dimensions and hierarchies will be exposed or not. We use SAP Cube Designer UI. Cube Designer is the existing client that already creates SSAS and BW cubes. We only use the UI part, not the “Deployer” part of the product.

Fig 4 – Leverage the Cube Designer client to create the HANA views

If needed, the HANA Information View can be enriched in HANA Studio for example to combine HANA Analytic Views from different sources (e.g. BW on HANA) into a single HANA Calculation view that can be accessed by reporting tools.

Fig 5 – Enrich the FC HANA views with HANA Analytic Views from different sources

Conclusion

In conclusion, the release of Financial Consolidation v10.0 SP15 on HANA is a major opportunity for our customers to get much more of their existing BFC platform and investment, with a straightforward technical upgrade, while considerably simplifying their existing infrastructure. We can really say that HANA allows BFC to do more: faster, better, and bigger reporting; with less: one single compressed in-memory database instead of two databases with replications, interfaces and batches to manage.

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