Modelling agency Elite Model Management is in the process of consolidating 13 different financial systems across its international network.
At the SuiteWorld conference in California, NetSuite revealed how the agency had adopted its cloud-based ERP OneWorld to transform its global business and finance operations.
AccountingWEB caught up with Fabio Pelino, group treasury director at Elite, to find out more about the finance transformation.
Having dealt with disparate ERP systems and error-prone manual processes since joining the company last year, Pelino has high expectations of the new system.
Elite Model Management was established in Paris back in 1972 and now represents more than 2,000 male and female models across Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
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It’s now a leading global agency known for launching the careers of Cindy Crawford, Lara Stone and Gisele Bündchen, among many others.
After Fabio Pelino joined Elite as group treasury director, he quickly discovered the company’s financial systems needed some attention.
Elite’s disparate, on-premise ERP systems encompassed 13 distinct financial software systems, Excel spreadsheets, double-data entry and many other manual processes, creating a number of pain points across the business.
This resulted in delayed financial reporting, delays in accounts payable, limited visibility into critical business functions, error-prone manual processes and huge IT overheads and costs.
Before fully deploying NetSuite, it would take a week for accountants to pool international transactions for its monthly reports.
Elite was looking for a new system to manage its financials into a single, real-time, global, end-to-end unified process, allowing it to focus on its core skills of identifying and developing the careers of models.
Asked about any accounting nuances in the modelling industry, for example intangible assets, Pelino said: “You have to consider that models are not our assets, but we bought services from models. We buy and sell services to the customer.
“For us models are, for want of a better word, products. We buy and sell. Models are under our management and our first priority is to offer a good career to the models.”
The agency was looking for a system to replace several Excel spreadsheets and error-prone manual processes with single unified cloud-based software.
It also wanted to run critical business processes like financial consolidation across all global subsidiaries, core order-to-cash functions in multi-currency and with multi-national tax compliance across all of its subsidiaries.
Essentially Elite wanted to gain better visibility of its financial transactions from subsidiary level and globally.
As finance director, Fabio Pelino wanted to be able to share that information with senior management.
He had a vision of accounting staff across the company using the same processes and workflow, regardless which agency or country they were working in.
“My goal has been to centralise all information, standardise processes across our operations and reduce the time it takes for information to reach managers,” Pelino said.
Prior to Pelino’s arrival Elite had gone some way to tackling the problem by using NetSuite as a centralised reporting system, but the subsidiaries still had to submit reporting data which would be re-entered into NetSuite manually.
Elite considered other ERP systems, but only NetSuite OneWorld met their specific needs.
In NetSuite Elite found:
- Real-time global financial consolidation - real-time visibility across all of Elite’s subsidiaries, divisions and business units with one single financial system of record
- Multi-country regulatory tax and reporting support - automated tax compliance across more than 50 countries
- Savings in IT costs and complexity - cloud solution eliminates hassles of managing, maintaining and upgrading business applications
- Real-time analytics and reporting - dashboards, reporting and analytical tools enable Elite to monitor, report and analyse overall business performance in real-time
Pelino said: “NetSuite is providing Elite with exactly what we needed, a global ERP system that brings all of our businesses together under one single cloud-based platform. We will have more control over and insight into our global business on a day-to-day basis.
“At the moment if I needed information about finances, we have to speak to the different accountants in each country. So having one button to push and a single dashboard is crucial,” Pelino told AccountingWEB.
It’s early days in Elite Model Management’s finance transformation and the full roll out the new ERP system is expected to take two years.
So far the UK, Italy and Switzerland have been the first countries to go live during the first phase of the deployment.
Next on the list are subsidiaries in the US and Asia.
The rest of the countries will be going live on NetSuite OneWorld as the project continues.
After the initial roll out Pelino says that he is now able to see transactions instantly on his dashboard, which is already significantly cutting administration costs and efforts.
In NetSuite, Elite found the scalability, flexibility and agility it needed to transform business and finance efficiency and support growth.
Although the return on investment is yet to be quantified, Elite is on the way to achieving a real-time, unified view into the business performance and financials of each subsidiary and of the business as a whole.
It’s a challenging project, but Pelino has ambitious goals and high expectations for the financial consolidation journey. Once completed, AccountingWEB will be eager to find out more.