When growth within an organization highlights gaps in existing financial tools, adding the functionality that will accommodate new demands can be tricky—and require significant time and expense. Integrating a more advanced ERP system can be daunting but ultimately is essential for reliable, efficient financial processes as an organization grows. Two areas where the value quickly becomes apparent are reporting capabilities and integration functionality.
Problem 1: Incomplete reporting
Growth brings new and more detailed reporting requirements. To make relevant and timely business decisions, the executive team, ownership, and board will need efficient and accurate reporting that reflects important datasets. Managing organizational change and the updated reporting requirements that arise as the organization builds depends upon an effective financial system.
From my experience, many financial tools out there do not offer the flexibility to adapt to new data requirements. Financial reporting can be extremely tedious when the system doesn’t allow for custom financial statements. Ideally, financial planning and analysis teams can easily build a custom template and simply update reporting dates for future monthly reporting packages.
Problem 2: Lack of system integration
In a perfect world, the data used by sales, operations, and finance teams are accurate and aligned across systems. The reality is quite different: without system integrations, the data stored in the CRM tool does not match the data stored in the accounting system, and operations may use a third, distinct tool—all of which is a recipe for miscommunication and inaccurate reporting.
As an organization grows, connecting important systems becomes crucial to ensure reliable, accurate data is shared across all relevant tools and teams. Achieving a fully connected technology ecosystem requires significant collaboration across many distinct teams and investment in API technology and external resources to manage the technical requirements. Because it can be a real challenge to find time with the appropriate internal resources and allocate limited investment funds, system integrations often are avoided until they just can’t be anymore.
The solution: An advanced ERP system
Both of these problems can be solved by implementing a more advanced ERP system. Investment in an ERP system will be painful in the short term, but the long-term benefits are worth it. A system that can facilitate specific, multiple data requirements such as geographic, departmental, and investment source at the transaction level will provide invaluable detail to the organization to prioritize future investment opportunities without adding a large team of FP&A professionals to get there.
A successful transition depends on thinking about what you need and how you currently function before digging in. Identify your reporting requirements upfront. Map all current systems that maintain relevant data within the financial reporting framework. Determine which system remains the source of truth. For example, the payroll system of record will be the organization’s source of truth for salary information. Mapping the most accurate data source will allow the integration team to understand the proper system from to pull data.
Your objective is ending up with a system that truly serves your needs, which means taking the time to identify what you want from it is the only route to customization that helps your organization thrive.
I have participated in four financial system implementations using various products. In each situation, reporting requirements, system integration connectivity, and cost played a significant role in which financial system was chosen. And in all cases, my team enjoyed a more robust tool that offered the specific data fields necessary to properly report financial metrics relevant to each area of our business. We could close our accounting periods more quickly—accurately—and generate necessary reporting much earlier in the month. Our executive team, delivery teams, sales, and operations could rely upon the accurate and efficient data they needed to run the business effectively.
Efficient organizational growth requires a financial system that can adapt to the changing reporting requirements and increased accumulate of transactions. Finance teams armed with a robust system can better meet the changing organizational data metrics required to make the best investment decisions. In other words, this investment will ensure all future investments are made with the best information available—and benefit the entire organization in immeasurable ways.