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Increasing Visibility into Budget and Spending by Extending S/4HANA Cloud

Business-to-Employee Scenario: allowing line managers outside the corporate finance function to monitor and actively manage budgets and actual spend with SAP RealSpend, a powerful and easy-to-use tool

This blueprint provides common information, guidance, and direction for extending S/4HANA to provide visibility and access to up-to-the-minute budget and spending information. Through a real customer business scenario, this guide describes a common business challenge resolved by the SAP Cloud Platform. It includes the benefits of the solution, the main SAP Cloud Platform components for licensing considerations, and a visual architecture depicting a basic architectural pattern.

Business Scenario

For many cost center managers outside the corporate finance function, visibility into budget and spending is often cumbersome. Spreadsheets with weeks-old data and predefined reporting dimensions from central controlling do not meet immediate needs for real-time decision making amid changing business conditions.

In today’s competitive businesses, organizations not only need to keep track of the expenses but also future expenses, real-time forecasting. Managers want to improve decision making with their budgets and expenses to control their top and bottom lines. In addition, they also want a fine-grained analysis of actual and forecasted expenses in comparison with their budgets.

Solution

This company has decided to empower cost center managers by increasing their visibility into budget and spending. This company has decided to implement SAP RealSpend, a Cloud Finance application that enables cost center managers to monitor their expenses in real-time with detailed drill-down features that make it possible to perform a fine-grained analysis of actual and future spends, as well as related forecast and budget plans. With this cloud application, managers can simulate the influence of certain decisions into budget factors including sales, marketing, travel, hiring and equipment investment. Augmenting financial data through specific tagging features enables flexible grouping and reporting beyond the classical ERP data model.

This cloud application can connect to the SAP S/4HANA Finance solution in real time and SAP SuccessFactors without having to replicate data, thus realizing the benefits of SAP Cloud Platform and its ability to support hybrid cloud and on-premise environments.

Solution Capabilities

  • Display commitments and actual, requested and approved expenses over time and compare them with available budgets
  • Analyze expenses according to various business dimensions in the original data
  • Reorganize data according to personal groupings created within the application to build a custom view on the financial data on the fly
  • Add and adjust individual budget figures in your personal work environment
  • Work with your cost-center- and account-hierarchies originating from SAP S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors
  • Augment existing financial data with future expenses.
  • Bottom-up planning based on future expenses.
  • Flexible tagging to introduce new dimensions and characteristics for reporting on the fly.
  • Full real-time integration with SAP S/4 HANA Financial.
  • A simple way to declare individual and user-specific budgets.

Solution Benefits

  • Augment existing financial data with future expenses.
  • Bottom-up planning based on future expenses.
  • Flexible tagging to introduce new dimensions and characteristics for reporting on the fly.
  • Full real-time integration with SAP S/4 HANA Financial.
  • A simple way to declare individual and user-specific budgets.

Solution Diagram

SAP Cloud Platform is an open platform-as-a-service providing unique in-memory database and business application services. It is the extension platform for SAP because it enables developers to develop loosely coupled extension applications securely, thus implementing additional workflows or modules on top of the existing solution they already have.

Reference Solution Diagram

The following diagram illustrates the SAP RealSpend solution diagram. It represents the basic architectural pattern for extending S/4HANA Cloud using SAP Cloud Platform with S/4HANA Cloud SDK and the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for service development

Reference Solution Components

The following list describes the main components needed to implement this scenario and the role they play in the overall runtime of the solution.

SAP RealSpend application includes:

The SAP UI5 Application provides the user experience with web content. SAPUI5 (SAP user interface for HTML 5) is a collection of libraries that developers can use to build desktop and mobile applications that run in a browser. With SAP's SAPUI5 JavaScript toolkit, developers can build SAP web applications using HTML5 web development standards.

The Java application defines the business logic. It takes care of data retrieval and processing, integrating with SAP Cloud Platform services, such as persistence, security, logging, and many others. To simplify and standardize the development of the business logic and integration, SAP provides development tools and frameworks: Components of the S/4HANA Cloud SDK and the SAP Cloud Platform SDK for service development enable highly efficient application development on the SAP Cloud Platform:

  • SAP Cloud Platform SDK for service development focuses on developing the means for OData consumption, CDS- based and free-style OData provisioning, service catalogues and discovery, as well as several topics in the area of eventing to receive push notifications from various data sources such as S/4HANA
  • S/4HANA Cloud SDK provides business-centric S/4HANA functionality such as first-class citizen S/4 data models, quality assurance for side-by-side extensions (e.g., testing & mocking, pipeline as code, static code checks, resilience engineering for fault-tolerant operation, tenant-aware caching), platform abstractions for easy migration from SCP Neo-based applications to SCP Cloud Foundry, as well as S/4 connectivity that can transparently handle multi-tenant connections to S/4HANA Cloud.

SAP Cloud Platform Connectivity service - Allows SAP Cloud Platform applications to access securely services that run on the Internet or on-premise. It provides a standard HTTP Proxy for on-premise connectivity that is accessible by any application

SAP ASE: Secondary data source where complementary information about the financial reports is stored. SAP Adaptive Server Enterprise (SAP ASE) is a high-performance SQL database server that uses a relational model to power transaction-based applications

Primary Sources of Data are:

SAP SuccessFactors System – SAP SuccessFactors Workforce planning solution allows companies to minimize risks associated with executing business strategy. With strategic planning, you can develop strategies that help ensure you hire and retain the right talent for years to come and with the operational headcount planning, you can plan for changing organizational needs and transform this traditionally one-a-year process into an ongoing planning practice. In a nutshell, SuccessFactors Workforce planning is the primary data source system where data about headcount planning is stored.

S/4HANA Cloud Version: the primary data source system where the business processes are defined and transactional data is stored on a daily basis. The Finance solution on SAP S/4HANA is a set of comprehensive solutions designed to help the office of the CFO meet the demands of a digital economy. This solution connects the SAP S/4HANA Finance solution in real time without having to replicate data, thus realizing the benefits of SAP HANA Cloud Platform

SAP S/4HANA integration with SAP S/4HANA Cloud SDK

For developers of applications on SAP Cloud Platform, the SAP S/4HANA Cloud SDK makes connecting to and integrating with any SAP S/4HANA system easy. The SDK includes features that facilitate application development, such as a virtual data model for SAP S/4HANA, abstractions of the underlying cloud platform implementation, fault-tolerance, cache management, and project templates.

Additionally, the SDK delivers tools to get started quickly and maintain high quality, for example with continuous integration tools and software quality checks. These components enable developers to quickly set up the environment for development, quality assurance, and deployment which is essential for the development in cloud environments.

General availability of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud SDK was announced at TechEd 2017 in Las Vegas.

The following components of the SAP S/4HANA Cloud SDK are leveraged in this solution:

  • Platform abstractions. This component provides a generic access to certain platform features such as logging, tenant management, SAP S/4HANA connectivity, user management, etc. It provides abstractions for the access to platform services for developers, enabling local testability and facilitating the migration between different platform versions (migration from SAP Cloud Platform, Neo to SAP Cloud Platform, Cloud Foundry).
  • S/4HANA Connectivity. This component provides a possibility to connect SAP S/4HANA On-Premise and Cloud editions from applications running on SAP Cloud Platform. From the development perspective, the SAP S/4HANA edition is transparent, as the SDK retrieves the SAP S/4HANA configuration data from the destination configuration service on SAP Cloud Platform. In addition to the connectivity, a powerful Virtual Data Model is included into the SDK. This component provides a native java environment for accessing data via standard SAP S/4HANA Cloud APIs.
  • Tools / frameworks. This component of the SDK includes tools and frameworks, such as Hystrix for fault tolerance and resilience, testing and mocking capabilities to enable a high quality of solutions, as well as enterprise-driven adaptations of certain frameworks and libraries such as Togglz for feature toggling.

Security

Overview

Security in the cloud - also referred to as ‘Cloud Computing Security’ - encompasses a variety of procedures, standards and technologies employed to protect data, applications and associated infrastructure. To make it easier to understand, consider breaking it up into three topics: Authentication, Authorization and Single Sign-on.

  1. Authentication is the process of proving that an application user is who they say they are.
  2. Authorization is the process of giving the user the access to the application data that they need.
  3. Single Sign-On is the process of providing the user access to any number of application systems without having to resupply their credentials.

When implementing the solution just described, keep in mind that each the three security topics described above have a number of options for how they get implemented with the SAP Cloud Platform. For this solution, For this solution, Corporate Identity Provider was the chosen method for doing authentication, SAML Bearer Assertion was setup to access data from SAP SuccessFactors and Principal Propagation to access data from S/4HANA Cloud. Regarding the authorization, it is the Java Application that enforces authorization.

The diagram below depicts at a high level where the Authentication, Authorization and Identity Propagation topics fit in an overall SAP Cloud Platform Solution.

Authentication

Corporate Identity Provider - This blueprint provides common information, guidance, and direction for implementing a Corporate Identity Provider as the Identity Provider for applications on the SAP Cloud Platform. It will allow you to use a common source of identities for all your cloud based application.  It provides a standard, internationally adopted method for authentication using SAML assertions.

For more information visit Corporate Identity Provider | SAP Cloud Platform Blueprint

Authorization

This blueprint provides common information, guidance, and direction for implementing user Authorizations on the SAP Cloud Platform.

For more information visit Authorization | SAP Cloud Platform Blueprint

Single Sign-On

Principal Propagation (For S/4HANA Cloud) This blueprint provides common information, guidance, and direction for implementing principal propagation with X.509 certificate from SAP Cloud Platform to the backend system that is running On-Premise. It allows the consumer to use this method for any endpoint service that accepts X.509 certificate based authentication.

For more information visit Principal Propagation | SAP Cloud Platform Blueprint

SAML Bearer Assertion (For SuccessFactors). SAP HANA Cloud Platform provides support for applications to use the SAML Bearer assertion flow for consuming OAuth-protected resources. In this way, applications do not need to deal with some of the complexities of OAuth and can reuse existing identity providers for user data. Users are authenticated by using SAML against the configured trusted identity providers. The SAML assertion is then used to request an access token from an OAuth authorization server. This access token is automatically injected in all HTTP requests to the OAuth-protected resources.

Learn More

This blueprint highlights important considerations to allow cost center managers to actively manage budgets and actual spend with an easy-to-use tool. However, it is recommended to review further information to help you implement the scenario in your businesses.  

Primarily SuccessFactors Workforce Planning was used here for the extension. Information about the position, department, cost center, location and pay grade can be extracted from the SAP SuccessFactors Workforce planning solution to include it in the expenses analysis. Find out more about SAP SuccessFactors Workforce Planning

SAP Cloud Platform provides the environment for cloud applications extending SAP S/4HANA. Developing your own application on any kind of Cloud platform, requires you to first understand the inner workings of the platform. The SAP S/4HANA Cloud SDK reduces your effort when you start to develop an application extending SAP S/4HANA by providing all the necessary libraries and project templates to get going quickly. Visit SAP S/4HANA Cloud SDK page on sap.com

The S/4HANA Cloud SDK pipeline uses the S/4HANA Cloud SDK continuous delivery server for building, checking, and deploying extension applications. Projects based on the S/4HANA Cloud SDK archetype will automatically use this pipeline. Visit the S/4HANA Cloud SDK pipeline on github.com to get more information on this topic.

There are runnable example applications that showcase the usage of the S/4HANA Cloud SDK. Visit this repository to download or clone project examples on github.com

Making the application development experience delightful, the SDK provides you out-of-the-box capabilities, such as an abstraction of the underlying Cloud platform implementation (SCP Neo, Cloud Foundry), fault-tolerance, cache management, as well as tutorials and project templates. If you are interested to learn more, stay tuned for the upcoming development topics that we will cover in these tutorials.

Many more links and references on help.sap.com page

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