Shared Service Centers (SSC) have become a well-established strategy to achieve operational, productivity and cost efficiencies. Technology is at the core of these benefits, driving the standardization of processes, reducing system redundancies and creating economies of scale. Now, with the widespread digitization of back office processes, SSCs are poised to deliver greater value. And the most significant additional value these can deliver (beyond cost savings) is enabling the workforce to become more intelligent.
Technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning, cognitive intelligence and analytics will proactively prompt users with business insights, alerts and actions, making them more efficient and effective. These smart technologies will put predictive power into the hands of the CFO or the COO. The ability to take smarter, faster and more relevant decisions will separate tomorrow’s leaders from the laggards.
The ‘legacy’ hurdle
The stumbling block towards improved SSC performance is the traditional ERP system. Some of these systems, which go back to the 1990s, are better suited to handle traditional business models where batch processing and end-of-month report generation is the norm. At best, these provide a rear-view mirror to executives and have limited adaptability within the current business environment, which is being rapidly digitized.
Today, if the COO doesn’t have real time financial data, it is impossible to co-relate products, customer needs, operations and profitability for timely decisions.
SAP S/4HANA digital core for value delivery
The SAP S/4HANA platform, which integrates all lines of business and their functions, offers a powerful solution. It is an intelligent ERP, meant for today’s businesses, which have a digital core.
SSCs using SAP S/4HANA are assured of speed, agility and innovations capability. Its closed loop decision-making system and intelligent process automation (IPA) make contextual and predictive intelligence a reality.
Some IPA examples enabled by SAP S/4HANA include:
Intelligent Cash Application with 48 in-built matching criteria for the machine to learn and automatically match invoices and payments
Intelligent GR/IR Reconciliation that uses predictive modeling integration to predict the delay in invoice processing, thereby providing early alerts to renegotiate pay terms to avoid discount losses
The intelligence loaded into SAP S/4HANA allows the SSC workforce to handover low-skilled, repetitive tasks to the system, thereby freeing itself for more strategic and analytical work.
The intelligent ERP
By handling live data, SAP S/4HANA becomes a real game changer. It does this by using a simplified architecture, doing away with multiple layers through which the data must pass before it can reach the user.
The architecture introduces innovations such as Universal Journal with multidimensional drill down abilities. The innovations provide the management information and live business insights. This gives users the ability to perform accurate and continuous finance operations in a dynamic environment, without having to wait for traditional settlement runs. Smart users find that they are able to predict challenges and explore new revenue streams that were not possible before. Intelligent ERP is an essential to survive a fast-paced and dynamic business environment.