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Growing pains: Can your accounting system handle scale?

10/04/2018

You know you’ve outgrown your ERP system when your business processes are operating outside your finance system in Excel rather than within it. As your business environment evolves, you need to work differently. With more finance people and accounts to manage, fully aligning workflows with financial software starts to become a big ask.

For your system to support your growth, the system needs to be able to flex to support your updated business processes. Multiple systems need to talk to each other, breaking down the silos in your organisation and removing duplicate data entry. The system needs a reporting capability that works across the organisation, from the CEO right down to the finance assistant.

These are the three main challenges that come with scaling up your finance function. Here’s how to tackle them head-on:

Automated accounting

A common enemy of productivity, repetition is a luxury you can no longer afford once your accounting volumes begin to multiply. When you’re burdened with an inflexible accounting system, your finance team often end up spending more time on administrative functions, like data entry, rather than working on tasks that add value to the finance department.

The less automation your system can handle, the more people you’re going to need to hire to cover the workload. And what do more staff need? More managers. An ERP that is inflexible, or has not been configured to fit your new working approaches, creates a huge overhead on the business. Ultimately, it takes your attention away from where it needs to be: instead of managing finances, you end up managing a huge finance department.

If you have a powerful ERP but it isn’t working for you, check its capability. Can it be evolved to make use of modern processes? If not, it may be worth switching to an ERP that can perform this automation easily – that way, you can avoid unnecessary expense in the long term.

Dynamics 365 Business Central (formerly known as Dynamics NAV) is Microsoft’s cloud ERP offering, which is what we normally recommend to finance professionals for enabling automation. The technology improves productivity, automating invoice processes, such as converting POs to invoices, so your team can concentrate on tasks aligned with their skillsets.

Integrating offline tools

When people think of accountancy, they often picture Excel sheet after Excel sheet. This is perhaps an image that ignores recent advances in accounting technology, but equally, Excel should have its place in a finance team workflow. If integration with the Microsoft Office Suite is a requirement for your accounting team to work effectively, it makes sense to use a Microsoft ERP overall, which offers the best possible integration. As it’s highly integrated with Excel, Business Central allows you to input data en masse, and work and publish directly in Excel without leaving the ERP screen.

And don’t forget email: Outlook also integrates perfectly with Business Central, which can even help you manage your team’s tasks better. For instance, Business Central will send the team manager an approval request by email right from the application without having to leave the system if an employee exceeds their purchase invoice limit. This makes for much quicker approval, all tracked and performed in one system.

Tracking and reporting

The bigger your business grows, the more crucial it is to keep track of activity across all accounts. With data stored in multiple systems, often in different formats, silos can make it more difficult for management to make timely business decisions based on finances.

Reporting can be time-consuming and visibility on team goals is hampered by manual report production. If your aim is to always pay suppliers within terms, visibility of team payment KPIs like this is the first step to achieving this.

With a data-driven ERP like Business Central, you’re able to see everything across the whole system, not just one part of it. All your data is integrated so you have complete visibility of everything from invoice deadlines and accounts to KPI performance. You can even save senior managers time by automating daily financial report emails to be sent straight from the Business Central platform in a clear, easy-to-read Power BI dashboard.

Success at scale

Knowing your software has all the features you need to succeed as you scale is one thing, actually using them all is another. If you want to truly transform the way your finance team works and empower them to be more productive, you need to invest time and energy into a successful implementation.

For a busy finance team, this can be achieved by using an expert, who will implement your Business Central software in a way that is tailored for your industry, using best practice to design and implement a system that will support you as your business grows.

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