POV_SAP S/4HANA Advanced Financial Close (AFC)

What is SAP S/4HANA Cloud for Advanced Financial Close (AFC) ?

SAP S/4HANA Cloud for advanced financial closing (AFC) is SAP’s go-to strategic solution for entity close management and orchestration – supporting the planning, execution, monitoring and analysis of period-end closing tasks for all entities of a corporation. Prior to SAP S/4HANA Cloud for Adcanced financial Close (AFC), for On-Premise S/4HANA version, SAP’s Financial Closing Cockpit (FCC) was the recommended / suggested solution.

SAP’s video for SAP S/4HANA AFC

SAP S/4HANA Advanced Financial Close – 2021

Find SAP’s video for SAP S/4HANA 2021 Release Advanced Financial Closing.

Current Limitations of the Product (2021-Nov)

The first product of Cloud based AFC has a couple of limitations. To name a few

  • From a TLT, one can export the Task-List Template to an XLS. However currently, in first version No IMPORT/UPLOAD functionality from XLS to AFC available. Hence maintaining required information in AFC Cloud front-end is a tedious task.
  • If TLM (Task-List Model) changes at backend, then one has to redo the AFC-frontend settings again, as the refresh of TLM modifies the settings on AFC
  • For EACH System-instance & system-environment (Dev, Quality, Production), one has to create a UNIQUE AFC in front-end cloud. Transport Request (TR) from DEV-Cloud AFC to QA-Cloud AFC to Production Cloud AFC is currently not available. Such a functionality is on the roadmap, however currently not available
  • FOLDERs (ID, Description) Structure created as part of Closing-Hierarchy, is not available as part of “Filter” criteria in DASHBOARD-App. This is much required feature, from end-user usability perspective
  • The THREE (3) reporting-fields [ Custome_Field1, Custom_Field2, Custom_Field3 ], should be increased to at least 10, as that will make Reporting much flexible and with increased dimensions to report on
  • Currently Cloud-AFC can connect only to SAP S/4HANA & SAP ECC. On-the roadmap, connectivity with other Financial-Systems generally used for Financial Close (e.g. HFM, Blackline, etc) is expected.
  • Business Content for Financial Close is available for SAP S/4HANA On-Premise & SAP S/4HANA Cloud. However the same is yet not available for SAP ECC, and since most of ECC client might already have extremely customized processes, how much SAP ECC content (after it is made available) will become useful will have to be seen.
  • As any new/first release , we do find a number of small errors/bugs in the product. Finding and applying SAP correction notes, contacting SAP for confirmation and their support, one must consider this as part of project-activity.

My POV

SAP S/4HANA Cloud for Advanced Financial Closing (AFC) is a new (recently released) cloud based Software-As-Service (SaaS) SAP Business Technology Platform (BTP) based Application.

The future roadmap looks promising, however the current version with it’s limitations could be used by

  • organizations with simplified landscape (Small to mid-size) who currently use complex xls or distributed-control on the process and are primarily looking to have a Central-Visibility and Reporting of the overall Closing Operations
  • For Large global organizations, SAP S/4HANA Cloud for Advanced Financial closing (AFC) should only be considered as PILOT initial-step to explore and start their cloud- journey.
  • Organizations must be clear of – using the TOOL as
    • Central Repository for monitoring and reporting Period-Close
    • Using AFC for managing and monitoring Accounting Operations
    • Using AFC as Scheduler for Scheduling Closing Tasks not just in SAP backend (ECC, S/4HANA)
    • Using AFC as Central-Scheduler for Closing Tasks (Only possible after AFC is able to connect with other solutions like HFM, Blackline etc.)
  • Be clear of the expectations from the TOOL and the implementation objective. Does Financial close process standardization and harmonization part of initial PILOT ? Keep Business Process Optimization and Reengineering outside the scope of PILOT, or upfront invest enough time in BPOR as part of Consulting assignment and then start the usage of SAP AFC Application Tool. It might help better utilization of Cloud BTP and SaaS License Cost

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