Prioritising finance: key to successful ERP

Decision Inc's Desmond Struwig says finance leaders need to put their business strategy first.

CFOs and other finance leaders need to rethink their approach if they are to capitalise on an ERP platform. Instead of seeing it as a technology system, they must use the opportunity to put finance first and transform ERP in a way that improves how the business manages its insights and strategises its overall modernisation drive.

One of the key lessons from the dot com bubble is a lesson that many companies still struggle to implement – understanding the business case for the technology. If finance leaders put strategy at the forefront of their technology investments, the company is likely to experience sustainable and long-term value from these investments. This is particularly true of ERP, which, as McKinsey puts it, is a “complex, lengthy and expensive process” that can often face failure.

Understanding “finance-first”
This value makes it critical for a business to embrace an intelligent, finance-first approach to ERP. In this way, it can ensure ERP is able to support the business as it deals with an operating environment that is both fast and furious. As mentioned, ERP is not a technology-only project.

The business must view its implementation through several diverse lenses, the first being transparency. A well-established ERP platform provides the organisation with essential insights into operations, processes, spend, and systems. This transparency in turn allows the business to make incremental and intelligent changes that will fundamentally improve and streamline these processes and systems. It will ensure that the organisation has the foresight necessary to unlock the second lens – agility.

Delivering business value
A finance-first approach to ERP allows companies to grow because it does not hinder them with the logistical chains. These hindrances can be anything from fractured decision-making across the value chain to poor visibility that limits budget, spend, and prioritisation.

More cohesion is likely when finance leaders have a clear line of sight of the entire environment. This cohesion will enable a modern, incremental, and stable approach to ERP implementation. ERP is traditionally perceived – as Gartner puts it – as a monolithic implementation. Therefore, many companies cannot see this expense as justifiable in terms of money and time. But realising its full potential without having to climb on the treadmill means companies gain the value without losing market traction.

Finance integration
Organisations can transform how finance operates when ERP and finance form a holistic ecosystem. This ecosystem will further enable the business to leverage the insights it offers, to not only transform finance but ultimately, the whole business. In the Wall Street Journal, Deloitte highlights that ERP-enabled finance unlocks massive benefits. The key one is that it allows teams to engage with many stakeholders across different areas of the business. This engagement enables them to better serve the business in its entirety.

Fortunately, the technology industry has been paying attention. ERP solutions and platforms like the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Financial System (D365FO) fits specifically within this niche. This offering enables companies to improve operations step by step. As they say, the best way to eat the elephant is one bite at a time. This intelligent implementation allows organisations to take the ERP bites they need.

The results of a finance-first ERP approach

  • By taking a finance-first approach to ERP implementation, organisations can then comprehensively:
  • Refine their finance functions
  • Provide relevant insights and visibility to stakeholders
  • Track insights that can fundamentally shift business decision making
  • Improve bottom line transparency.

They can do all this from the beginning while ensuring that nobody will get left behind.

by Desmond Struwig, Decision Inc managing executive of technology, solutions and innovation.