Better indicated iterative approach when migrating to a new ERP

CFOs moving their finance function to a new cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system should start small and tackle basic functionality before trying to tackle more complex tasks. said Jason Maynard, senior vice president of global field operations for Oracle NetSuite. Dive.

Finance managers may be tempted to convert a system in one fell swoop into something holistic, especially if they have a unique process that requires customization to work, but taking an iterative approach can help ensure you get it right. a system that better meets your needs, said Maynard, a former Wall Street analyst.

“You’re going to want to move forward on the journey to get your earnings and get value rather than hoping that two or three years down the road the system, when you finally have it all built, will work perfectly,” he said. . “Before you try to drop a bomb on the field, prepare for a practice and get first four tries first.”

Iterative approach

Like other companies offering ERP systems that moved from on-premise software to the cloud a decade ago, NetSuite’s business model has shifted from trying to optimize all features at the start to an iterative approach, he said.

Jason maynard

Courtesy of Oracle NetSuite

Maynard said he was working with a manufacturing company that wanted to link dozens of vendors together and, due to the location of some vendors, needed to customize some of the code for the ERP system. It’s the sort of thing financial executives might want to tackle, but it’s best to wait until you’ve optimized your core functions, he said.

“Having a unique process is something that deserves to be personalized,” he said. “Our professional services people spend 30 or 40 hours helping them write customizations, so they can do exactly what they need to do. But not necessarily right away.

The manufacturing company had several third-party logistics (3PLs) that they wanted to consolidate into their supply chain and also resolve outstanding warehouse management issues, but the best plan, he said, was to let these problems go on for a while.

“Sometimes we say, ‘Hey, let’s not tackle this,'” he said. “Leave a few of these things where you have them now. We’ll cooperate and integrate with those systems, and then figure out how to better automate that. But let’s get the order of operations in place first so you get the most bang for your buck. ‘ “

At the simplest level, you want to make sure that accounting staff aren’t spending time on tasks they don’t need.

A mid-sized company that Maynard worked with still sent out paper invoices to collect on its debts and cut checks for its debts, two functions that are routinely automated today.

“Make your business easier,” he said. “This way you have digital recordings and if you use the payment by link functionality [in the NetSuite ERP], we send a link and they pay and you get it. Someone does not have to enter this transaction manually.

Troubleshooting guide

Although ERP vendors in practice work with customers to help them design an appropriate system for their processes, NetSuite has deployed a formalized means of doing so this year.

The company created a team to analyze thousands of past ERP implementations to develop a list of best practices, organized by solutions, in a sort of troubleshooting guide.

“We’ve codified the best practices into easy-to-use packages where a CFO says, ‘I have this business problem,’ and they can look at the packages and say, ‘Yeah, that’s my problem,’ and here is the six things you need to do to knock him out.

Packages are the end result of a trend in which financial executives have asked the company about leading practices.

“We’ve seen customers say to us, ‘Hey, show us the best practice on how we need to perform some basic functions’ in relation to their migration [to new applications], “he said.” A lot of what we call more forward thinking CFOs were saying, ‘Look, we want to get a best practice. We want to have the best practice. You’ve worked with thousands of software companies. , thousands of manufacturers, what’s the best way to do it? ‘ “

It is only after you have answered these questions that it is advisable to think of new or custom applications, he suggested.

Margie D. Carlisle