If you use a custom uploader (CU) for entering financial data into SAP, you may think you’re completely bypassing the tedious manual steps SAP imposes. While a CU does streamline data entry to some extent, most of them stop short of automating the process. In this blog, we’ll look at six signs that it’s time to retire your CU, as well as more flexible alternatives that leave more time for critical financial analysis and support faster decisions.
1. Your Custom Uploader Needs (Complicated) Tweaks to Keep Pace
Your CU just may not have kept pace with changes in both your business and SAP updates, particularly if you have an older SAP system. You might, for example, need to add some custom fields or adjust for changes in SAP master data mapping, requiring that you either edit the CU or rewrite it. This can be a bigger deal than it sounds, especially if you don’t have access to the developer or implementation consultant who initially created the CU software. It also engages more than just an IT person, as it typically involves gathering requirements specifications from users and then creating design specifications, followed by implementation and testing phases―even if you’re just adding a few fields.
An alternative is upload software that links Microsoft Excel directly to SAP so your spreadsheet reads the fields in your SAP table structures as the master data. If you’ve created an upload template in this Excel add-in software and need more fields, it provides a simple function for making the changes. So, it’s the difference between a potentially months-long process compared with a simple mouse click.
2. Error Handling During Uploads Is a Challenge
If you want to enter multiple lines in a journal, SAP requires that you enter them line by line while it performs validation and checking for each line, followed by another validation check when you move to the next entry. To get around this time-consuming SAP process, your company may have built a CU, but because it uses normal SAP processing, it still sends back any errors one at a time. Alternative upload software automates the error-handling process, returning all orders on one screen.
A CU does provide the ability to upload multiple line items at once, usually by way of a .txt file coming from Excel, where you’ve staged your data. You’re still having to stage the data, save it, and then use the CU to upload it. With uploading software that links Excel and SAP, you are instead actually entering the information directly into SAP via Excel, saving steps with no interim staging.
3. Your Custom Uploader Can’t Get around the SAP Line Limitation for Journal Entries
SAP imposes a line limitation of 999 rows for journal entries, meaning you have to break lengthy entries into posts of 999 lines and upload them as separate documents. Even if you’re using a CU, you still have to break down your posts to meet the limit. An easier choice is upload software that links to SAP and circumvents this requirement by automatically cutting off documents at the required length and creating those posts for you, which is a huge time savings.
4. Your Custom Uploader Can’t Upload Supporting Documentation
If you’re posting a vendor invoice, for example, into SAP and you want to attach a scanned copy for reference, a CU will still force you to go into SAP after the journal entry has posted and then attach the document. This is a time-consuming two-stage process, even though you have all your posting information in an Excel file instead of line by line entries.
Alternative upload software will let you scan a copy of the invoice into your Excel workbook so it’s included in your post. So, if you have an entry with formulas in Excel, you can see the source of those numbers. Not only does this process save time for financial users, it’s an appealing feature for auditors performing a document review or journal entry review because all the information is there in the document in SAP, as opposed to a file cabinet or archive.
5. Your Custom Uploaders Won’t Let You Enter Multiple Customer Receipts/Vendor Invoices at Once
Like SAP, many CUs won’t let you process multiple customer receipts or multiple vendor invoices at one time. Instead you are forced to enter all invoices for one vendor, then save it and repeat the process for the next vendor. With an Excel add-in uploading solution, you can enter multiple vendors or customers all in one Excel spreadsheet that immediately uploads to SAP with no repetition involved.
6. Your Organization is Implementing S/4HANA, and Your Custom Uploader Needs a Full Rebuild
If your CU was built for an older SAP environment like ECC, it will need a complete rebuild if your organization implements S/4HANA. S/4HANA uses different table structures, and your implementation may include different function modules you might not have previously had. Instead of a complete overhaul of your CU, you could consider pre-built upload software that is forward compatible with S/4HANA.
If these six signs sound familiar to you, it may be a good indication that it’s time to scrap your older custom uploader in favor of an Excel add-in for uploading that can truly mask SAP’s complexity and better automate the upload process. Doing so will make for a more efficient finance department and free up time for better, more agile business decisions and practices.