Data Integration for SAP Central Finance: Consider Your Sources

The first post in this series discussed the 5 types of data integration required to fully enable SAP Central Finance. This post considers the different sources that must be integrated.

Having established the 5 key integration requirements, let us now go a little deeper and consider the many source systems that may need to be integrated, and how they can be handled. First though, it is worth noting that most companies have a LOT of source systems. Part of the value of introducing Central Finance in the first place, is that financial systems are gathered over time, through acquisitions and reorganizations and they tend to be very ‘sticky’, meaning they are difficult to remove without a lot of concerted effort. So companies end up with many systems that comprise of many different versions and instances – and a deep need for Central Finance!

There are no definitive numbers, but from experience, we see an average of 10 or more different source systems per company. Smaller companies may have 3 to 5 systems, and large multi-nationals typically have 20 or more. In extreme cases, we may see over 100 source systems, each needing some form of integration. If you are a corporate finance manager, your life can certainly be very complicated!

Recognizing the effort and complexity inherent in integrating many source systems in Central Finance, Magnitude, in consultation with SAP, has built-out a complete product offering – known as Magnitude SourceConnect – for exactly this purpose.   The chart below summarizes the integration tasks discussed above and shows how Magnitude SourceConnect can help with each.

For the purposes of this discussion, source systems fall into 3 categories:

  • SAP ECC – this is in a category of its own as it is the only source for which SAP provides pre-built integration. If your only source is SAP ECC then count yourself lucky! (although master data harmonization may still be an issue – see above)
  • SourceConnect Primary Sources – these are the data sources for which Magnitude SourceConnect has a direct connector. These are pre-built connectors that for the most part work out of the box. They ‘know’ the tables, views, transaction logs, definitions and nuances required to extract financial information directly from the source and deliver it in the correct format for consumption in SAP Central Finance. SourceConnect has direct connectors for most popular ERPs but the list is constantly expanding, so contact Magnitude for the latest certified sources. It should be noted that even if a direct connector is available for a system, if the system has been heavily customized, or the integration requirements will only ever be ‘simple’ (upload only, with no drill down or write-back requirements), then treating it as a ‘secondary source’ (see below) can also be considered.
  • SourceConnect Secondary Sources – There are many other less common financial systems in the world with numerous versions of each: many have been heavily customized by customers over the years. To provide a complete view of financial data, we must bring in data from them too, but in this case, a direct connection may be impractical, or overkill, if the integration requirements are simpler. In this case, SourceConnect provides a ‘Universal Flat File’ (UFF) load format that enables the core integration capabilities for upload. To use this, the customer can have Magnitude, or a certified implementation partner, build a custom script to extract the requisite data into the UFF format. SourceConnect validates and transforms the financial data and uploads it to SAP staging tables for load into Central Finance. It should be noted that this may be the preferred integration method even if a SourceConnect direct connector is available for the ERP, if 1) the source is highly customized, 2) there are already well-developed extraction scripts available and the customer expertise to maintain and run them and 3) the sources may belong to a different subsidiary or partner and/or be on a different network so data access must in any case be more ‘arms length’.

Irrespective of the number and mix of source systems you are considering, Magnitude SourceConnect can reduce time to benefit as well as reduce initial and ongoing development and maintenance costs.

Find out more about Magnitude SourceConnect: