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Thrive in Digital Economy with SAP S/4HANA

By Prakash Bharatam, Sr Director- vCentric Technologies

SAP Business Suite 4 SAP HANA (SAP S/4HANA) is a new product, which is fully built on the SAP HANA platform and designed with SAP Fiori user experience, delivering massive simplification and innovations to help reinvent businesses.

SAP S/4HANA as a technology and platform will ensure a robust control over reporting and building confidence of all stakeholders through better monitoring of business, optimum utilization of resources and complete adherence to compliance. SAP HANA is an in-memory computing engine used for real-time processing of huge volumes of data, building and deploying real-time applications. Adopting the row-based and column-based DB technology, the big data exists on the main memory and not on the hard disk. The, columnar approach allows linear searching and aggregation of data rather than two-dimensional data structure. If more than one column is to be processed, each task is assigned to diverse processor. Operations on one column are then collimated by column divisions processed by different processors. It replaces the onus of data maintenance separately on the legacy system and simplifies the tasks of administrators.

S/4HANA is simplified and re-designed business suite where customers can work on the live data. There are several instances, this innovation, helped businesses take the most appropriate decisions, as the availability of information is accurate, live and analysed.

Objects which use to run for hours are now being executed in seconds, for example MRP (Materials requirement planning) in any kind of environment takes longer, in complex environments it will be further longer whereas with S/4HANA MRP is live. Speed is the mantra of HANA, in-memory-computing on a highly simplified, innovated (aligning to the speed of the DB) and accessible through all kinds of devices (mobile and immobile).

There are a lot of learnings in this digital transformation. Technology enablement is most advanced, helping customers work with data that is live, as it happens and needless to mention of the speed, it is very well defined.

S/4HANA is Performance, Resiliency and Flexibility. Latency (The time duration to perform data replication starting from the source to the target system known as latency) is key to transaction performance. Moving away from relational databases to in memory computing is the biggest innovation. Moving away from row storage and accessing of DB through the rows in transparent tables to columnar access of data is itself big change.

Business Applications are simplified, with enhanced DB access leading to a robust platform.

Some of the simplified areas of S/4HANA are following:

1. Cost elements become part of the chart of accounts. They are maintained in GL account master data. Hence, there is no separate cost element master data maintenance. Account master record includes new field for cost element category which classifies GL accounts into four types: (1) X – Balance Sheet Account; (2) N – Non-operating Expenses or Income; (3) P – Primary Costs or Revenue; (4) S – Secondary Costs

2. Business Partner (BP) is now capable of centrally managing the master data of business partners such as customers, and vendors, enabling “BP” as the single point of entry to create, edit, and display master data of the respective category.

3. All journal entry items are converted into accounting interface for any of the configured currencies, independent of the source, where the business transaction originates from.

4. Universal journal (ACDOCA) holds the data for account assignments (cost centers, profit centers, Product, Product Groups, Customer, Customer Groups and so on) which are done in controlling. This provides a profit and loss statement with a drill down to the above reporting dimensions.

5. Materials with price control “Moving Average” and all special stock types is an option available. The benefit of this option is that no exclusive locking is required anymore for material valuation, which enables parallel material document processing. However, exclusive locking is still required, if material master data is created or changed by a goods movement.

6. Web Dynpro Applications of SAP ERP are replaced with existing SAP GUI transactions, Fiori applications enabling ease of access for a Smart Business.

7. Material type "SERV" for services is introduced for Product Master in S/4HANA for simplification purposes. Shopping cart functionality is replaced by self-service procurement.

8. MRP live creates many planned orders in parallel. Locking conflicts will be eliminated in parallel processing and reduce total MRP runtime. MRP in HANA does not suffer much from considering quota arrangements.

9. If a BOM or routing is to be considered by MRP, a production version will be required. If MRP is to source a purchase requisition from a certain supplier, defining a source list entry is no longer required. It is sufficient to set the indicator "relevant for automatic sourcing" in the purchasing info record.

10. Forecast demand (FD) and Planned independent requirements (PIR) are semantically very similar, whereas FD belongs to S/4 & PIR belongs to ECC. Creation indicator for Purchase requisition generation (in MD01N) doesn't exist in HANA

SAP FIORI when it is implemented for sales order process, sales representatives will be able to create sales orders over mobile from customer’s location. Fiori facilitates online business order fulfilment. Earlier ABAP reports that were taking over 12 hours to fetch the data have gone down to a few minutes. 

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