Since January 1991 we have been listening to the challenges of the middle market community; a growing number of companies whose needs have advanced beyond the well-known, well-loved software that most of their team members have used for years and years; because they now need more functionality and their needs have become more complex.

Many told us they had four, five or more diverse programs, and that most of these programs were un-integrated. During this time, many of my blogs have been written to address the needs of the Microsoft and Dynamics communities, in an effort to convey information in a straight forward style.

If your company’s needs are more complex, please feel free to reach out to our team to address those needs.

But if you are among the many who need to transition to a more robust ERP package and need to get a sense of how others have evaluated their ERP needs and accomplished that journey, please read on:

1. Seven out of ten CFOs and Controllers tell us they inherited an existing ERP software package that they’ve not worked with before, and as such didn’t participate in the thought process of how it was set up or even how their company’s chart of accounts was configured.

As a result, until they had fully reviewed their company’s transactions and procedures, their ability to manage and report on company data was often been quite limited.

2. CFOs and Controllers also told us that even when they inherited an ERP software package they have worked with before, they have still needed to spend time understanding the way the company transacts business (makes sales), fulfills their company’s sales, pays their employees and vendors; understanding which functions are performed in house, and which are outsourced.

They found multiple software packages were in place to support other business processes and all too often those products aren’t integrated to one another.

3. CFOs and Controllers also told us that even after they have command of their software packages they often find themselves challenged to deliver insight into both the income being generated and the way their company spends the money that’s being made; in order to meet specific levels of profitability.

They quickly earn their keep, as every dollar spent requires about five dollars of income (top line). And, it isn’t long before they begin restructuring their chart of accounts and reclassifying prior costs to better report on individual types of expenditures within the company’s existing categories.

4. Next, our CFOs and Controllers told us they have quantified the additional non ERP software their company uses, to understand the functionality and additional data that the programs provide, with an eye to how well the programs work, any additional data that could be helpful and whether or not it makes sense to integrate these operational programs to their accounting/ financial software. Often, they tell us that they look at the return on investment (ROI) in these areas to guide them with the decisions about integration.

5. Often, before the typical CFO/ Controller has command of all their systems, they find themselves tasked with using the company’s data to help the other C level executives drive better decisions in every area of business, and it’s at this point that they begin to ask themselves whether or not they have the tools they need to report on the diverse needs that each department has.

This is the dawn of their company’s Business Intelligence (BI), which covers many, many programs, methodologies and technologies. If BI is of interest, please see my blog post on BI and KPIs, or feel free to contact me directly.

6. Software programs excel at quantifying data, but recognizing trends and what the data really means depends on how well the CFO/ Controller and other analysts have executed the prior steps along with the insight and expertise they bring to the table.

The ability to visualize how every data mart will tie into the other data marts and drive that analysis depends on one additional issue: being able to look at everything in a totally unstructured way and asking ‘in a perfect world, where money is no object, and you knew you wouldn’t fail’ how would I lay these programs out and what results would I want?

7. CFOs and Controllers alike tell us that a data dump of ideas, no matter how diverse is the best place to start, and that they include all their team members in this process, called ‘fit/ gap’ analysis.Once all the ‘gaps’ have been identified, each item is quantified as a ‘must have’, ‘nice to have’ or ‘future phase’ need.

8. The next step of the process is called ‘blue printing. This is where the team documents how the work is currently performed, adding the changes that are required to create a ‘use case’ specific to each of the top three to five changes required for the initial phase of the project.

The blue print and use cases are the basis of the ‘proof of concept’ that will be demonstrated to the company’s team and decision makers.

9. If necessary, a secondary set of three to five lesser requirements can be addressed next. Usually this concludes the discovery portion of the project, and the company evaluates each presentation, moving forward with the solution that they believe will best meet their company’s needs.

10. CFOs and Controllers tell us that they found that assigning a Project Manager and an Assistant Project Manager from their company is the single best thing for keeping the project on time and on budget, followed by strict accountability of task due dates.

Thanks for taking the time to review ‘Top 10 Tips Our Clients Share About ERP’ but if there are additional questions you need to address, please let me know; I’m here to help you Move Your Company Forward