SAP reporting works like a map through the forest. When companies have an overwhelming amount of data with which to contend, moving quickly in all directions, reporting offers a kind of guidance. It tells decision-makers how to proceed based on the broadest and deepest analysis possible. In good times and especially in unprecedented times like these—when a pandemic throws every precedent and assumption out the window—companies need powerful SAP reporting more than ever.
Unfortunately, it’s never been more out of reach. Before diving into why that’s the case, it helps to understand some of the strengths and weaknesses of reporting in the SAP ecosystem. They’re actually the same, namely that the vast ecosystem includes so many disparate data sources. That makes it an invaluable asset for preparing insightful reports driven by the best data available. But it also turns SAP reporting into a highly-technical process best handled by IT experts. Anyone can benefit from SAP reporting. But everyone must go through IT along the way.
This is a familiar refrain for anyone who works with SAP. It’s also a problem for both the IT team and anyone who relies on reports. Building reports takes hours that IT would prefer to dedicate elsewhere. On the other side of the equation, whoever needs a report has to wait indefinitely—sometimes days or weeks—before it’s ready. Reporting requirements can also get lost in translation as someone from finance, for example, tries to explain their needs to a technical (but not accounting) expert. This situates IT at the center of reporting results in a process that’s protracted and inefficient, only to result in underwhelming reports. Recently, things have only gotten worse.
Reporting in the Time of COVID-19
It’s important to acknowledge how much the IT team enables every aspect of SAP reporting because right now both the IT team and many of the professionals for whom they make reports may be working remotely. Some companies are doing better than others at keeping people connected and collaborative. Regardless, even under the best circumstances, relying on a remote IT team to build SAP reports only creates another layer of disconnect between decision-makers and the data they need.
Under different circumstances, companies may be able to accept inefficient reporting, at least temporarily. However, as the pandemic causes intense economic uncertainty, companies must be able to see as far into the future as possible and be willing to pivot at a moment’s notice. To no one’s surprise, that requires powerful SAP reporting. It also requires reports that are available on-demand as often as necessary, and in whatever form makes the most sense. Otherwise, leadership must steer the company through this consequential moment without clear insights or good data at their disposal.
As long as IT continues to work remotely, SAP reporting will only take longer and will never be able to match the pace that decision-makers need. Even when things return to some semblance of normal, having to go through IT to create reports will keep companies slow-moving at a time that unquestionably requires speed and agility.
Underscoring that point, the pandemic came in the midst of widespread digital transformation, industry disruption, and competitive reckoning. Change is in the air. The only thing anyone knows about the months and years to come is that they will question all of our assumptions. Through it all, powerful SAP reporting will be critical. Step one is eliminating IT involvement.
Self-Service Reporting Made Real
Let’s emphasize at the start that everyone, and perhaps most of all IT, would prefer it if individuals could make their own reports. Eliminating IT involvement amounts to cutting out the middle man. Best of all, the middle man didn’t want to be involved in the first place.
Allowing and empowering stakeholders to make their own reports is broadly known as self-service reporting. It means making it easy for users to retrieve the data they need from wherever it’s located and turn that data into a purpose-built report. Most of all, it means that IT (or anyone else for that matter) isn’t built into the process. Self-service reporting only takes one person and no specialized training to complete.
For anyone familiar with SAP reporting, that might sound ideal, but impossible. Given the technical nature of reporting, it’s unrealistic to expect accountants or executives to build their own reports. That’s why companies eager to introduce self-service reporting look outside the SAP ecosystem for reporting tools that put financial and operational data in the hands of anyone who can benefit.
One example is GL Wand from insightsoftware. It’s specifically designed to integrate with SAP, complementing the system’s strengths while overcoming its weaknesses. Still capable of delivering powerful SAP reporting, GL Wand excels in terms of simplicity and accessibility, so much so that IT isn’t necessary at all for reporting. Intuitive features and clear interfaces show users how to find the data they need to extract the analytics they want. The software also helps turn that data into a customized report, giving users a suite of visualizations and design options with which to work. Most appealing, GL Wand runs in the familiar environment of Excel, highlighting the fact that this tool was built for the average user and not the tech expert.
We offer other reporting tools that make self-service SAP reporting possible. Any company that has to go through the IT department to get reports—either because the workflow is set up that way or because it always works out that way—will struggle to prepare reports as quickly or comprehensively as necessary. Consequently, they put themselves at a disadvantage, opening the door to poor decisions made too late.
With the pace of business picking up and the margins for error growing more narrow, reporting is a crucial capability. Moving to a self-service model free of IT involvement only makes sense. It takes the power of reporting and the potential of data and makes it accessible to all while also giving IT more time to work on important projects rather than reporting requests. Now that insightsoftware makes self-service reporting not just possible but well within reach, there’s no reason not to embrace a more direct and dynamic approach to reporting.
To fully appreciate what self-service SAP reporting offers, you really need to see it in action. Request a free demo today.