The one tool every finance business user always needs is the ability to upload journal postings from Excel. The vast majority of the postings that an accountant needs to make are supported by complex calculations and have a large number of line items, therefore most finance business users have a range of Excel workbooks and macros that help them to derive the postings that they need to make, such as month-end accruals.

Obviously, we would always want to encourage users away from excessive reliance on Excel, especially when they have the power of an SAP system at their fingertips. However, like it or not – it’s a fact of life that for the development of complex or large volume journals, uploading journal postings in a quick and straightforward manner is always a key requirement in order to speed up the process of month end close.

Clare Campbell-Smith

Solution Architect

Meeting the challenge head on with SAP S/4HANA Cloud

Every SAP project that I have been involved in (and there have been many), always tends to reach a point when we have to either develop a bespoke program to support the transfer of journal postings – or deploy an external tool. However, by deploying SAP S/4HANA Cloud, a journal upload app is delivered as part of the standard functionality (through the ‘Upload General Journal Entries’ app). It is also worth noting that this functionality has now trickled down to the On-Premise S/4HANA product – a good example of SAP’s approach of deploying new functionality first to the public cloud code line, and only introducing it later to the On-Premise product.

One of the main challenges in implementing new technology in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry is that the journals that the finance team often want to load via such a tool need to contain very low-level detail. As an example, provisions for Trade Spend, which are often managed on a separate system, need to be posted with SKU level detail into Profitability Analysis in order to support Brand and Product level margin analysis – and this can result in hundreds of line items on each accounting posting.

While the concept of the universal journal in S/4HANA suggests that a journal upload for such high-volume data should be easy to deliver (since these dimensions are all part of the coding block), until recently, there was a significant gap in the product offering in this area, whereby the journal upload did not support loading data with CO-PA detail.

This meant that the only way to support making such postings was via a manual journal and then updating the required CO-PA detail on every line item, which was simply not practical in high volume situations. This limitation drove projects down the route of either posting only summary level data (so missing out on some of the powerful new functionality in the Universal Journal) or reverting to the traditional approach of using custom development.

By chance, when investigating the 1808 release, I stumbled across some very useful functionality in this area, which to my surprise got no mention whatsoever in the release notes. SAP has since confirmed that this is currently in beta release but should come into full release with the upcoming 1811 quarterly upgrade.  What this functionality provides is the ability to add new fields to your journal upload template, allowing the load of journal line items directly against profitability segment characteristics such as customer and product. These fields are all prefixed ‘PROF_’ (in their technical name) and can be added to the journal entry load template in the same way that you add any other fields previously available to modify the detail to be loaded.

By implementing this SAP standard functionality rather than resorting to bespoke development, we managed to make significant cost savings for a recent S/4HANA Cloud project. This approach brings into play Keytree’s deep SAP expertise – allowing us to creatively use standard configuration options to meet client requirements. Therefore, by using standard functionality, we are also able to allow the client the freedom to easily adopt new functionality as SAP introduce it in future releases. This is a much more important consideration for projects implementing the public cloud software owing to the high release cadence compared to traditional ERP software.