In a session with SAP Strategic Partner PwC, Autodesk discussed how their company successfully implemented SAP S/4HANA for finance transformation following a “Big Bang” global approach across 48 countries running on heavily customised legacy SAP enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.
The 3 billion dollar a year American-based multinational software company, started its business model transformation in 2017 which saw the company moving away from selling perpetual software licenses and maintenance programs into a subscription-based business. To help in this transformation, Autodesk established three strategic priorities:
- complete the transition to a subscription-based business model
- digitally transform the company
- invest in innovation to reimagine its construction manufacturing and production businesses
According to Daniel Soriano, Director of the Finance Project Management Office at Autodesk, the company simultaneously initiated a new program they called DFT (digital finance transformation) that aimed to implement a modern ERP platform to support these strategic priorities. Autodesk was previously running a heavily customised and configured SAP ECC 5.0 legacy ERP system to support its old business model. Soriano said they chose SAP S/4HANA for finance to support its rapidly changing programs and business models and to effectively manage back-office functions.
SAP S/4HANA for Finance Journey
Autodesk’s move to SAP S/4HANA took only 12 months—the company was able to go live with the SAP’s next-generation, cloud-based ERP platform on 1 September 2019 according to Soriano. SAP S/4HANA now serves as the software company’s financial system of record.
As part of the company’s SAP S/4HANA for finance digital transformation, PwC—an SAP Pinnacle Award 2020 finalist—applied the “fit-to-standard” and “Hybrid Agile” approach and enabled the components and capabilities such as record-to-report, procure-pay integrated with SAP Ariba and SAP Concur, HaaS (HANA as a Service) BI in SAP S/4HANA HEC, HANA Data Warehouse, and BOBJ-based landscape to improve Autodesk’s financial management reporting.
The company also implemented SAP Group Reporting which came part of SAP S/4HANA HEC. By doing so, Autodesk was able to reduce the close cycle by 5 business days.
With SAP S4/HANA for finance in place and group reporting implemented, Autodesk was able to automate its financial and legal consolidation systems for US GAAP—including local GAAP’s in the Asia Pacific and European regions. All other manual consolidation and reporting have also been digitised and modernised. Futhermore, the software company successfully achieved approximately 85% fit-to-standard that allowed it to transform several of its legacy processes to make them a lot more efficient and more streamlined.
According to Soriano, a few lessons the company learned in successfully implementing SAP S/4HANA for finance include:
- starting data cleansing activities early on, allow sufficient time for iteration and further clean-up, and be aware of formatting changes
- leveraging test automation where possible and identifying test automation tools well before starting the S4/HANA journey to save time in executing manual test cases
- including end-users to test functionalities during SIT cycles
- going live in Hyper Care and develop a comprehensive plan on the activities leading up to and following go-live, especially the process for end-users
- utilising SAP’s post-go-live support and follow the defined SAP support process to quickly resolve issues