The latest generation in ERP technologies forms the basis for the digital finance function

How can the next generation in ERP solutions generate a long-term competitive advantage?

Published 31. August 2017

How is it possible to quantify the benefits achieved by making considerable investments in ERP technology roadmaps? And how can the functionalities of S/4 Hana be put to optimal use?

Latest generation ERP systems such as SAP S/4 Hana Finance are regarded as technological drivers of financial transformation and digitisation. A large number of CFOs consider new ERP technologies to be a substantial part of their digital transformation, and a basic prerequisite for big data and the key technologies of the future. In practice, this potential is not yet realised or is only partially taken advantage of, despite extensive investments in some cases. As in the past, many companies still have heterogeneous process and system landscapes, resulting in non-standardised master data and value flows in the financial function. The investments made in ERP technologies therefore do not contribute to the successful implementation of a company’s digitisation strategy.

Nevertheless, there is a need to take action. Given the rise in what is demanded and expected of the financial function, for many companies “doing nothing” does not represent a viable alternative.

There are numerous expectations placed on the digitisation of the financial function. For example:

  • Improved reporting and a need for greater integration of accounting and controlling in order to achieve better transparency and controllability
  • Meeting efficiency requirements and the target of reducing manual, non value-creating activities (e.g. manual data extraction, preparation and analysis)
  • Shortening and improvement of account closure and planning processes
  • Implementation of new, complex regulatory requirements (e.g. IFRS 9, 15, 16)
  • The anticipation that new, forward-looking technological developments will be introduced in reporting (SAP Digital Boardroom), data analysis (predictive analytics) and automation (robotics and artificial intelligence)


Albert Fässler

Advisory Partner, Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 23 22


Patrick Akiki

Advisory Partner (Finance Risk and Regulatory Transformation), Zürich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 25 19


What’s beyond the basics?

Efficient, effective processes are a key factor for ensuring the competitiveness of any company. As the “single source of truth”, the ERP system lays the foundations for this. Process standardisation and automation via robotics can represent the logical next step towards achieving higher efficiency and quality. Implementing digital continuous improvement and analysis processes can help with the recognition and elimination of inefficient processes. For the financial function, this means improving efficiency whilst enhancing value contribution at the same time.

As a virtual control room, the Digital Boardroom allows the processes that have been analysed and the data produced to be viewed in a variety of different contexts – both inside and outside the company. Real time information can be displayed to different extents of detail, and may even be prepared by means of artificial intelligence. Digital liquidity management and cash flow forecasts resting on predictive analytics give reliable projections that go beyond real time data, and form the ideal basis for decision-making by the CFO.

“Fix the basics, then the future will become reality” – these building blocks can be used to lay the foundations for establishing the real technologies of the future.

  • Step 1: establishment of the most important design principles from which the project scope and project plan can then be derived
  • Step 2: development of a detailed concept for information and process models, value flows and IT landscapes
  • Step 3: preparation of guidelines, system settings and reports that will have a direct impact on the harmonisation of systems and the standardisation of processes
  • Step 4: implementation of reliable data structures and standardised templates to increase efficiency, flexibility and accuracy

Für eine erfolgreiche Digitalisierung müssen erst grundlegende Voraussetzungen geschaffen werden - “Getting the basics right”


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