The CFO guide to SAP S/4HANA® and Central Finance

When and how to implement SAP S/4HANA

For many CFOs, deciding when and how to implement SAP S/4HANA could be the most significant technology investment choices of their career. It’s a big deal. SAP HANA® is SAP's brand of in-memory computing, a technology that handles massive data sets without breaking a sweat. SAP® built its latest next-generation intelligent ERP (SAP S/4HANA) around this technology. SAP launched SAP S/4HANA in 2015 and plans to stop supporting older ERP versions on December 31, 2025. SAP reports more than 12,000 customers have committed to SAP S/4HANA.¹

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What’s different and better about SAP S/4HANA?

Traditional ERP systems are optimized for transaction processing, with data stored in many different tables. SAP S/4HANA uses its Universal Journal to store all financial transaction details in one table. Availability and access to all that data can happen with near-zero latency. The new system also brings a simplified data model that lets you record once, use many times, and create a single source of truth. So analytics and insights that were historically unfeasible or very time consuming now process quickly.

SAP S/4HANA enables more speed and better insights in almost every area of finance. It’s also a platform for real-time analytics—with no more waiting for separate reporting systems, batch jobs, and long processing times. Yes, it can be expensive, and yes, there may be implementation risks, but defining a digital transformation roadmap upfront, driven by prioritized capabilities that drive value for the business, can help address both cost and risk in a positive way.


Back to top Factors to consider

As you weigh the decision of when and how to implement SAP S/4HANA, consider these factors:

Do you have a reconciliation process that seems to go forever at the end of each month? SAP S/4HANA provides an additional level of detail through its Universal Journal capabilities, allowing complete transparency to a reconciled ledger that enables accounting and corporate shared services to manage an "anytime" close and possibly eradicate the need for a month-end close altogether.

Can you look at true product costs without the noise of messy intercompany transactions and markups? SAP S/4HANA’s valuation process allows you to "see through" your cost to the underlying components. Does your team struggle with time-consuming forecasting that is out of touch with actuals—and which leaves little time for analysis? SAP S/4HANA’s embedded planning offers a unified information model with prebuilt forecasting methods. Do you have one source of record to support consolidated, management, and statutory reporting? SAP S/4HANA lets you drill down from your consolidated financial statements to the business transaction.

SAP Central Finance

Deloitte has more than 110 SAP S/4HANA implementations currently underway, with a significant portion of clients leveraging Central Finance as a low-risk, high-value path forward. With more than 30,000 hours of co-innovation partnering with SAP on SAP S/4HANA, here’s what we know from our experience:

  • Stepping stone. Central Finance is frequently used as a first step—an efficient mechanism for beginning broader ERP deployments. It allows business units to transact in legacy systems uninterrupted during implementation.
  • Centralized services. Central Finance enables centralized service delivery models to report, model, and analyze data within a single system and across a common information model, further driving value from the shared service center.
  • Data bridge. Central Finance is frequently thought of as the least invasive hub to bring data together in a common information model across multiple ERPs. This gives companies visibility into transaction data that would otherwise be masked in aggregated summary data tables or be in a completely different format altogether.
  • Accelerator. Central Finance acts as a hub to accelerate merger integration or separation by allowing companies to continue to transact in legacy systems.

Explore other reports and guides in our Finance in a Digital WorldTM "Crunch time" series, and read case studies about digital transformation in the finance function.

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