5 questions to ask your finance tech provider
There’s nothing like the start of a new financial year to review the lessons of the past and consider how to make improvements. For many finance teams, this will mean reviewing the systems on which their day-to-day operations run.
But as figures from Gartner suggest that 55-75 per cent of all ERP projects don’t meet their objectives, it’s vital for finance decision makers to ask the right questions of any new supplier and their solution before committing to the investment.
To help do so, I asked veterans of the ERP industry about the top five questions that they recommend asking prospective solution providers:
- Ensure they are thinking beyond finance – For an ERP investment to really add long-term value, a solution needs to integrate into every aspect of the businesses’ operation to help maximise operational intelligence and efficiency. Operational Intelligence can be something as simple as providing real-time stock data for the sales team when a query comes in, or automatically sending customer alerts when an order is processed. It has the potential to improve any organisation, from retail to manufacturing to professional services to charities as it streamlines everyday processes. Adcock Refrigeration and Air Conditioning did just this when refreshing their systems, choosing to use a software which supported a variety of functions, including stock control financial management and payroll; rather than just job costing, making it easier for support engineers to take customers through an entire process (problem diagnosis, part ordering, quotation, invoicing etc).
- Make them review and renew processes - A new system is an opportunity to make incremental but significant improvements in the way everyday business is done. When a system refresh is inevitably required, don’t try to replicate old processes in new systems. Use it as an opportunity to work with your supplier to re-think the way in which you do things to support the business and make life easier for your team. We recently worked with Canterbury Archaeological Trust to do just this. The charity was having to juggle multiple revenue streams that had evolved over time, while reporting to both Charity Commissions and Companies House. Thanks to a total system and process refresh, they’ve been able to bring all of this together in one integrated system.
- Considering GDPR compliance – From 25th May, all organisations must have met the much discussed GDPR legislation. With a large portion of the information effected by this legislation being stored in a businesses ERP system, it’s vital that any new solution’s implementation plan has taken this into account. ‘The Right to be Forgotten’ request is a good example, where an individual can ask an organisation to erase all records of their personal details. A request like this could affect multiple touch points within an ERP system. For example, if they are an ex-employee it will affect the HR & Payroll; whereas customers and suppliers would affect different areas of the system. Solution providers must prove that they are able to automatically complete tasks like this. As well as show they’ve considered how best to transfer existing personal data on the incumbent system within the necessary constraints; and how they intend to improve future processes to guarantee 100 per cent automated compliance.
- Ensuring the right people are engaged – The most successful projects are those where the solution provider and company dedicate the right people to the run the project, and engage employees in the process. Strong leadership and getting buy-in from those effected by the changes is vital to ensuring the ERP implementation meets all its objectives. Companies like estate agent and property consultant Strutt & Parker have their agents accessing their ERP solution on a daily basis, so if a new system ends up actually making their job more difficult it becomes a game-breaker. A good ERP provider should understand this and include specific collaborative working and employee engagement measures throughout their implementation strategy. At Greentree we call this We3, where we, the customer and our implementation partners work together to make the project the best it can possibly be. Team effort wins hands down every time.
- Their product roadmap supports your long-term business strategy – A businesses’ systems must either keep-up with or ideally be able to drive its objectives and long-term business strategy forwards. As the pace and pressure on every-day operations continues to increase, prospective ERP suppliers must prove they can continue supporting your business as it speeds-up, develops and diversifies. It’s no longer enough for a provider to offer a cloud-based solution, they should also be considering the latest developments in automated intelligence and data-analytics. For Adcock Refrigeration and Air Conditioning this meant choosing a supplier using the latest in AI to automate and significantly speed up its invoicing processes.