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In October last year, the 1610 S/4HANA release included as one of its main highlights the introduction of Real-time Consolidation, or RTC. Although the solution is in early adoption by customers, I have had the opportunity to work first hand deploying RTC in a central finance environment and will share what I’ve seen so far.

In a nutshell, RTC means that master data and transactional data can be accessed literally real-time from S/4HANA, thanks to a deeper integration between S/4HANA, BW and BPC. In an S/4HANA environment there is no need to have different clients anymore and BW/BPC is delivered as an add-on within S/4HANA, allowing this natural integration. The master data used in RTC is the same master data that is used in S/4HANA, with a few exceptions where consolidation specific fields are included in the RTC environment, such as Group and Audit Trail.

RTC has introduced a new table, ACDOCC – Consolidation Journal, which is a younger sister (or extension) of ACDOCA. It has a similar set of fields and common append structures. The extension of ACDOCC from ACDOCA guarantees, for example, that new fields such as COPA extension fields in ACDOCA are automatically replicated to ACDOCC. The consolidation journal allows for a significant level of detail with up to 100 characteristics able to be included (basically any characteristic available in the universal journal) and at the same time eliminates any redundancy that might exist between ACDOCA and ACDOCC. The field mapping from the universal journal (ACDOCA) to consolidation (ACDOCC) is configurable, and the depth of detail is entirely up to the requirements of each business.

Although master data is the same across S/4HANA and RTC, RTC leverages consolidation mapping for Account and Entity dimensions. In RTC the use of Group Chart of Accounts is mandatory, which facilitates the aggregation of Operational Chart of Accounts and harmonises subsidiaries at a Group level. The mapping from Operational Chart of Accounts to Group Chart of Accounts is done through the GL Account master. When configuring RTC it is possible to assign any organisational field or fields as the entity and associated intercompany partner. For example, the most common mapping for legal consolidation is Company Code and Company Code of Partner as the entity and intercompany fields, but there is also flexibility to define a combination of Controlling Area + Profit Centre, Cost Centre, Segments, for say, management consolidation. As long as the field exists in both Consolidation and the Universal Journal and has an associated trading partner field, it can be defined and leveraged to consolidate financial results. Furthermore, it is possible to create multiple RTC models within the same environment which allows consolidation under different views. For example, legal using company code or management using profit centre or business area or segment etc.

If any consolidating entity does not transact within the RTC SAP environment, the flexible upload functionality can be used to upload data directly to ACDOCC.

Some of the advantages RTC delivers over traditional consolidation processes include:

  • Common master data across RTC and S/4HANA, eliminating dual maintenance, conversion mappings and inconsistencies when loading data

  • Universal journal data is accessed real-time for consolidation, eliminating the requirement to replicate and load data therefore optimising the consolidation process

  • Ability to leverage S/4HANA to perform currency translation and intercompany matching across the universal journal – any possible adjustment can be done in the source before starting the consolidation process

  • Up to 100 dimension/attributes available for reporting consolidating results and analysing profitably and cost control across the business

  • Ability to run a preliminary version on actuals, making it easy, for example, to run consolidation before month end or even to simulate an organisational change or a business sale

When comparing specifically with traditional BPC some features / functions will remain the same:

  • Business rules maintenance remains the same as BPC Standard modelling, with rules being maintained in the BPC web administration view

  • The business rules available at RTC are:

    • Account Transformation

    • Intercompany Booking

    • Intercompany Eliminations and Adjustments

    • Balance Carry-Forward

  • The Consolidation Monitor accessed through BPC web

  • Ownership Manager accessed through BPC web

Some features / functions change in RTC going forward:

  • There are two options available for Currency Translation:

    • BPC Currency Translation – this requires an exchange rate cube in BW

    • S4HANA Currency Translation – this leverages the rates from the exchange rate table in S/4HANA

  • Even though Business rules are the same, in RTC they are not executed through a Data Manager Package, instead Task Sequences is triggered via the Consolidation Monitor

  • Reporting is performed via Analysis for Office

  • Introduction of the lock or unlock Data Submission functionality for Consolidation

  • Delta changes after data is submitted for consolidation can be reported in S/4HANA

  • Data can be locked and unlocked for data submission to consolidation run

  • Introduction of a document concept

  • Different from account model in traditional BPC consolidation in RTC is a multiple key figure model – Transaction, Local, Global and Group Currency values are saved in the same line in the Consolidation Journal. It is important to notice though, that only one key figured (Group Amount) is allowed in BPC for definitions of business rules and Journals)

  • Tighter integration of plan data (submission / transfer of plan data across to ACDOCC)

  • US elimination business rule

  • Validation at source

  • In RTC every posting creates a document and is assigned document number

  • Each consolidation task will have a different number ranges e.g. currency translation from 10000 to 29999, consolidation results from 30000 to 49999, etc

  • This is big shift from an account base model, used by classic BPC for example, where the update of a data region (Combination of the characteristics) means delta update – always within a single line in the data base

  • Although the data is always saved in documents in the consolidation journal and users can display them, reporting will be quite often at balance, an aggregated view by main financial characteristics: GL account, transaction type, consolidation entity, trading partner, period, currency and audit trail

The base release of RTC 1610 FPS00 is functional but there are inherent gaps that SAP addressed in FPS01 and it is the recommended version. In future releases SAP have included in their product roadmap:

  • This means that some validations performed at Consolidation level will be introduced at the Universal Journal level in S/4HANA, improving data quality and reducing re-work in the consolidation process caused by incorrect data entry at source

  • Real-time intercompany reconciliation

  • Enhanced visualisation with new capabilities in Fiori and BI tools

  • Soft-close support – ability to identify possible issues pre-month-end

As technology evolves, the way we do business will evolve also. RTC makes it possible to support business activities in real-time, whilst making an unprecedented depth of information available to users.