SAP’s continuing direction of travel with S/4HANA Cloud is towards increased automation and user experience improvements, moving forward with the organisation’s Intelligent Enterprise aspiration, and it would appear that the upcoming S/4HANA Cloud 1811 release is no exception to this trend.

I decided to explore the latest release, and take a closer look at not only the ‘big ticket’ items – the ones which SAP invest a lot of time and effort in promoting, but also some of the lower level changes, as these are probably of more direct importance to clients already live on S/4HANA Cloud or those in the process of implementing the product.

Clare Campbell-Smith

Solution Architect

SAP S/4HANA Cloud 1811 – new scope items

User Experience – in terms of user experience improvements, it is very encouraging to see many of the older WebGui apps, which many will find familiar from very old releases of ECC, finally being replaced with updated Fiori apps. This is particularly the case around some of the older CO apps, for example, with the replacement of numerous old cost allocation apps with the new Manage Allocations app.

Automation – there is a big improvement in automation via integration, particularly for clients with complex system landscapes, which comes through the release of additional APIs. In particular, the improvements that 1811 delivers around sales orders and sales prices will plug some significant gaps that have existed in the S/4HANA Cloud product to date, and will hopefully support significant improvements in relation to EDI processing scenarios.

In terms of new automation scope items, from a finance perspective, a couple of items stand out:

Closing Cockpit – back in July 2017, this functionality was promised for the cloud in the 1802 release. Finally, with the 1811 release, the Closing Cockpit comes to S/4HANA Cloud. This added functionality has had a fluid relationship with the S/4HANA product line – there were Fiori apps available in the S/4HANA Finance code line with the 1605 release (remember that, anyone?), but not with S/4HANA Enterprise 1611. The functionality first came to On-Premise with the 1709 release, but will now be available in the cloud with 1811 as scope item 2V8 – with an additional licence cost.

What I find interesting is that the preliminary release information suggests that this will only be available for the German and USA versions so this may be an area to watch for future deployments – depending on your country scope.

Accruals Engine – this has always been a powerful tool for the automation of complex purchase order related accruals in Finance, and comes to S/4HANA Cloud with 1811, as scope item 2VB. The use of this functionality can further help speed up the process of month-end close through the automation of what can be a very time-consuming manual process. The functionality will offer in-built flexibility to adjust proposed accrual amounts, backed up by a full audit trail and a layer of work-flowed approvals.

Country version scope continues to expand with the introduction of Turkey and Romania but obviously, there are other big changes with 1811. I am particularly interested in the introduction of Warehouse Management and Transportation Management functionality, which also plug big gaps in the existing release but I will leave this area to my colleagues who have far superior levels of expertise to write about these in more detail.

Detailed changes to existing scope items

The journey towards more self-service configuration (SCCUIs), and less SAP ‘manual configuration’ which needs to be done by SAP continues, and in addition, more configuration options previously only available in the back-end or in On-Premise systems are being made available in S/4HANA Cloud.

This approach allows implementations more flexibility in the system configuration, and bringing the functionality available ever closer to the On-Premise system. It will be interesting to see how this trend impacts the speed to implement, as more key design decisions need to be taken during the explore phase. In the course of the last year since the 1708 release (back when they were known as ‘CYS apps’), there has been an increase from 169 to 851 SCCUIs, which looks set to continue with 1811.

Other changes to look forward to includes the ability to add COPA fields to the journal upload template (see my earlier blog here), which is now out of beta release and will be fully available. Something that will no doubt be welcomed by a lot of customers – particularly in the Consumer Packaged Goods space, where the ability to post journals with this level of granularity is a core requirement.

Equally useful will be the ability to add custom fields into the journal load template, the ability to copy plan data between plan categories and also the ability to maintain fiscal year variants via SCCUI. This should open up S/4HANA Cloud to customers who want to run a 4,4,5 accounting calendar, which has up until now been unsupported. Finally, 1811 will provide the capacity to post journals with greater than 999 line items (though with a number of caveats in the detail).

I am certainly looking forward to 11 November 2018 when the 1811 release will hit the Q systems, and we can really start to get under the skin of the latest information – ready to explore how the new functionality can bring business benefit to new and existing clients.