Why is having qualified accountants as part of your consultancy partnership team such a good idea?
In the good old world of technology delivery, projects were something to really admire. They were big. I mean REALLY BIG. They took years and you were really important if you worked on a multi-year programme. Some of these would last close to a decade to land an ERP system, and they were IT-led. Then all of a sudden a strange creature called a ‘user’ appeared and different, agile approaches to delivery appeared on the scene. And whilst technology products were developing into powerful toolsets, business ownership came to the forefront. And at Tisski, we have always advocated business involvement and ownership for the projects we work on, as IT-led business change is never a sure-fire way to succeed!
The Design and Build process
The evolving world of Dynamics 365 is geared up to support businesses in onboarding change and flexibility into their ERP platform. Through the use of robust deployment approaches, the use of Visual Studio Team Services, life cycle services and development through extension the Microsoft ERP product stack is more capable than ever of allowing for flexible bespoke developments as required while also maintaining underlying product supportability and upgrades.
This toolset allows businesses more opportunities than ever to safely customise their flagship ERP products to meet their specific needs – something which can only be seen as a positive thing….surely…?
The temptations are always there when looking at design workshops or raising requirements however to focus on implementing a system to improve efficiency or speed up processing. Many a business self-help book through to university lecturer would agree that this is a noble cause. Too often however we see design sessions for new systems have taken place in an isolated capacity – taking one business unit at a time and looking to make their processes quicker and easier by adding small customisations to ERP products.
Where these customisations could start to undermine the auditability or robust controls which should be present within an ERP platform, often materialising further downstream than the point that they are being implemented, these can cause significant issues for companies post go live. These issues are often overlooked until the first operational month/year end, by which time damage has been done and a lot of manual ‘back-tracking’ could be required.
Having qualified and knowledgeable accountancy professionals as part of your ERP implementation consultancy team means that issues such as these are always at the forefront of ay design decisions. Knowing the difference between an opportunity to ‘speed up’ processes for one team vs a customisation that will act as ‘corner cutting’ for financial accuracy is critical when assessing whether to customise or whether to leave well alone. At Tisski we don’t see financial acumen and experience as being a ‘nice-to-have’ on ERP projects. We feel it is essential.
Data migration as a project phase has a bad name, so often because the complexity is underestimated and the activity is started too late in the project process. Financial data migrations come with their own additional controls, often involving structured data which has to conform to specific rules and relationships. This of course comes with its benefits – and to anyone who has worked on a data migration involving unstructured or free-text data would sound I’m sure like a dream come true!
When migrating data from a legacy finance system to the new we often hear the triumphant phrase “It balances to the penny!”. Victory surely – time for a well-earned beer. I would modify that phrase however to “It balances to the penny….but it doesn’t mean it’s right”.
Accountancy-led consultants can quickly spot the difference between data which balances simply through the nature of it having to within a finance system vs data which aligns to the reports and closing positions on the historic systems – meaning no nasty surprises at the first month/ year end after go live when it turns out ‘balancing to the penny’ wasn’t all it cracked up to be.
Training & user adoption
The implementation of a new system is a period of change and uncertainty for many end users and this can so often act as a blocker to a successful roll out and go live. Effective training and go live hand-holding is so important when removing this barrier and ensuring successful early adoption. Consultants who can talk the same language as the end users, as opposed to ‘techie-speak’ which can be off-putting, is invaluable in putting end users at ease and helping them feel that their concerns and drivers are genuinely understood.
Top Tips for Your ERP implementation
1. Engage your user base and relevant business units before baselining requirements
2. Choose a delivery partner that knows about finance – preferably one with qualified professionals within its team
3. Know what value your ERP implementation will add – the return on investment needs to be worth the effort
4. Keep it simple – over-complication of processes creates additional complexity in system implementation, and reduces your internal efficiency
5. Communicate – keep people informed and manage resistance to change
6. Focus on People – train business users in advance of go-live.
7. Enjoy it – when you have successfully implemented your ERP solution, celebrate success
8. Keep calm and carry on – be prepared to keep iterating and improving. Standing still will see your system become outdated and workarounds will devalue the investment you have made.