How cloud-based software and the right enterprise architecture help CFOs manage complexity
Surprised to see a story on the topic of enterprise architecture in CFO Connect? Under the impression that this topic is more for CIOs? Think again! Finance drives the pulse of every organization: as a CFO, you help prepare your company for an unpredictable tomorrow. A robust yet flexible, scalable and innovative IT landscape helps you manage volatility and complexity. As a result, it is key for you to care about the software you use as well as the enterprise architecture.
Your role as a CFO is changing. More than focusing on your organization’s bottom line, you are expected to help your company grow, succeed and stay ahead. That implies that your IT needs are changing too. On top of solid, reliable ERP functionality, you need an agile backbone that helps deliver real-time business insights, supports growth strategies and allows for swift changes and easy innovation – while, of course, keeping costs under control. The next-gen solutions of Microsoft and SAP can help.
Three reasons to go cloud
Both Microsoft and SAP are now advocating standardized cloud-based solutions, which are often available in a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Your benefits?
1. Save cost and time
No upfront hardware and software license costs and lightning fast installation and configuration: a SaaS-based Microsoft or SAP suite provides significant cost and time savings even before it is deployed, thanks to its subscription-based model. Yet, that’s not all. Once your platform is up and running, you can save on software maintenance and updates.
“With traditional on-premise software and infrastructure, organizations tend to postpone updates because they take so much time and money to implement,” says Kristof Boury, lead expert finance. “In a cloud-based SaaS-model, Microsoft and SAP regularly push version and security updates as well as new features, automatically and at no extra cost. Moreover, with SaaS we see standardization replacing monolithic, highly customized ERP solutions. That also helps save costs. In fact, the more you can reduce maintenance and management costs, the more time and resources you’ll have available to implement new features that add extra business value.”
"The more you can reduce maintenance and management costs, the more time and resources you’ll have available to implement new features that add true business value."
2. Get agile - to thrive in today's changing world
“More than reducing cost, standardization helps to avoid the complexity that is so typical of legacy systems,” Filip Pannecoucke, Go-to-market lead for S/4HANA Cloud continues. “Every CFO will agree that fossilized, highly customized ERP solutions lead to complexity, creating siloes that hamper the efficiency and even accuracy of finance tasks like reporting and forecasting. Standardization helps to simplify the organization and its processes, leading to one version of the truth, to mention just one example."
"In addition, standardization spurs agility. Today’s cloud-based ERP platforms can easily scale to adapt to changes in the market and are open to plugging in Microsoft or SAP add-ons, third-party applications and custom-developed apps. Last but not least, a SaaS model implies that users always have the latest version and enhancements of the software, including updates to local regulations and legislation – a very handy feature for a CFO to ensure compliance!"
"Cloud-based platforms can easily scale to adapt to changes in the market and are open to easily plugging in new apps or services."
3. Get smart
Next-gen Microsoft and SAP solutions also make it easy for CFOs put on their strategic hat and add extra value to the business – through their intelligence capabilities. Both systems come with a rapidly growing set of out-of-the-box capabilities for analytics and reporting. If you want deeper insights or extra tooling, there is a host of smart apps available from SAP and Microsoft, like SAP Cash, the SAP Liquidity Forecast app and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance Insights (including Customer Payment Prediction). We at delaware also increasingly develop useful applications ourselves, like the Payment Matcher (S/4HANA) and the Encrypted Payments (Microsoft Dynamics 365) add-ons. Moreover, it’s just as easy to extend your platform with RPA to boost efficiency.
Filip: “In summary, today’s cloud-based ERP systems are built around a core upon which you can add all the building blocks you need to make your system smarter and align with your unique requirements. In the case of SAP, the S/4HANA digital core includes a wide range of ERP capabilities to choose from and integrates with a host of applications, such as SAP Concur for spend management, to name just one. SAP Cloud Platform makes it easy to create new applications or extend existing ones.”
“The Microsoft business applications platform, for its part, consists of distinct pillars that are all tightly integrated,” Kristof adds. ”Dynamics 365 ERP apps work seamlessly together with Microsoft Office 365 and the popular Power Platform, for example.”
There are many benefits to this modular approach. The new SAP and Microsoft ecosystems boost agility, scalability and collaboration. What’s more, they allow you to gradually introduce the new system, which reduces the business impact of your implementation.”
"Today’s cloud-based ERP systems are built around a core upon which you can add all the applications and tools you need to make your system smarter and align with your unique needs"
The delaware approach
To ensure smooth integration and guarantee that the technology choices made align with your business, enterprise architecture is becoming increasingly important. “When helping customers choose the right platform, we take the entire enterprise architecture into consideration, including, of course, the deployment model,” says Filip. “While cloud-based is the preferred approach, organizations can still choose to deploy S/4HANA on-premise or in a hybrid model. Our choices will always depend on the customer’s needs.”
“Long after the deployment of the solutions, delaware stays in touch,” Kristof goes on to say. “We inform customers about upcoming upgrades and releases and actively look, together with them, how these can help them optimize their solutions.”
Standardization: a new mindset
Standardization is key in every step of our collaboration with partners – from platform selection and implementation through to the support we provide to our customers after go-live. “To kickstart the implementation of the Microsoft stack, we adopt a SMART approach, which combines best practices with a proven project methodology. For SAP, we have centralized all our know-how and experience into the FAST templates. And when customers want to extend their platform with a new solution, we first check if existing applications can help. That quest for standardization requires a new mindset from all of us but it’s definitely the right approach to ensuring that the architecture remains future-proof and agile and, as such, guarantees business resilience,” Kristof concludes.
delaware has centralized all of its SAP and industry know-how and experience into its FAST solutions.