Does Your Financial System Make It Easy For You To Do Business? Once you have selected a Financial Management Information System (FMIS) it is often difficult to switch systems due to the dependence on the data that resides in the system. However, it is important to ensure that the financial system you are using is delivering the capability you need to run your business effectively. Switching FMIS doesn’t have to be difficult these days. If the system that you are migrating to has an open architecture to make switching easier, and most importantly, the functionality you need to make it easier for you to do business – you will find it well worth your while to switch. In general, when reassessing your FMIS, the following criteria should be considered and rated in terms of importance to the business. Product functionality Have a thorough look at how the functionality applies to your organisation or department. You will find that some functionality is more critical to the way the department runs. For instance, if you cooperate with a number of other departments, it is important that the system enables you to view data across all of the collaborating parties. In general, you should be taking advantage of the following from your current system. Account balance views Some older financial systems don’t have the flexibility to provide account balances at posting and summary level immediately. The newer systems remove the need for you to create workaround processes, and provide updates real-time, as well as allow you to produce multiple summarization hierarchies. This makes processing at month, quarter and year end a much faster process. Ensure that you look at newer FMIS that provide this capability, you will be amazed at the difference it will make to your reporting schedules. Configurability and ease of implementation Ensure your system allows you to complete upgrades and implementations quickly in digestible pieces. Modules should be able to be installed and implemented only if required. When modules are added, integration is automatically ‘switched on’. Similarly, features and functions within modules can be ‘switched on’ only if required. Software is installed once on a central server and accessed by ‘clients’ with a web browser, thus making it easy to install, implement and deploy for multi users/sites/locations. Low cost of ownership The system’s architecture must provide a low cost of ownership, from implementation to on-going maintenance of the system. For instance, systems that utilise web based technology (based on XML) operate as a true thin client and only need a web browser (such as Internet Explorer) for access are recommended. This way, modules are installed once on the applications server and do not require any additional software to be installed on each user’s PC. Also, when changes and/or upgrades are applied, software is only installed once. Scalability and portability All organizations demand and constrict in terms of number of users. Ensure that the system is robust and stable enough to enable your company to grow and expand and maintain your investment with the product. The product should also accommodate for restrictions. Many systems are inflexible both in terms of growth of numbers of users and also addition and subtraction of processes. Ensure that the system does not restrict you to a specific platform. The system should operates on a variety of platforms such as Windows NT/2000, Unix, AS400 and mainframe) and utilise several databases such as SQL, Oracle, Ingres, OS400 and DB2. This makes the system easily portable from one platform and/or database to another. Adaptability to business change All organizations conduct restructures. Ensure that your system is flexible enough to cope with structure and reporting changes. The reporting ‘hierarchies’ should easily be able to be modified to reflect such business changes. Adaptability to accommodate ‘Shared Services’ The financial system’s organizational structure and concept of ‘file ownership’ should allow accounting and processing services such as chart of account files maintenance, vendor/customer files, invoice and payment processing, to be handled centrally and to shared by multiple organisations and entities. Processing of large volumes of transactions The financial system should be able to accommodate the large volumes of transactions that companies process every day. Ensure that the hierarchical processing structure enables swift and accurate processing of transactions in real time. Flexible access Ensure that there is easy integration with standard desktop tools such as Microsoft ® Office to enable modification of financial data and posting of information to the system. Flexible Chart of Accounts restructuring This will enable you to adapt to organisational changes. One source of data entry To eliminate any rekeying or duplication of effort. Different reporting requirements – internal and external Real-time reporting hierarchies available so information is presented in different views, instantaneously. Hence, reporting is met for both internal (such as management reports, business unit/divisional performance, product reporting) as well as external (such as insurance APRA reporting, taxation and statutory reporting). Allocations facility The General Ledger module should have an allocations facility that enables companies to accurately report the profitability for classes of products and services. Costs such as general overheads, head office, and management costs, can be allocated down to the appropriate level for a true measure of profitability. Average Daily Balances The General Ledger module should offer a feature for companies that are required to report average daily balances for selected balance sheet accounts, both at posting and summary level. This feature should allow for average daily balances to be calculated automatically and viewed online. Tight controls The need for strong process management via workflow embedded in the FMIS. Strong audit trails of transactions and processes for reporting purposes and historical reference. ‘Funds availability’ checking A function to ensure funds are not committed if they are not available. This checking needs to occurs from the time a requisition is entered and followed right through to payment. Project costing and tracking A Job Cost module that provides a Project Ledger that allows project managers to maintain specific information pertaining to their project i.e. descriptive, dates, budgeted costs/revenue, actual costs/revenue, commitments, as well as billing data. If the module is separate it overcomes the need to handle project tracking in the General Ledger and yet can still be tightly integrated with the General Ledger. Weekly reporting capability The General Ledger module must provide for selected accounts (eg sales) to be maintained and reported based on weekly periods. Product technology – ask your vendor about the technical architecture of the product, and the technological environment in which the product can run successfully. Sub- criteria include: product architecture software usability and administration platform and database support application standards support communications and protocol support integration capabilities. Product cost - look not only at the initial product licence cost, but also consider long- term costs, including maintenance fees, upgrade costs, training and implementation costs, and service & support fees. The term used by the vendors is total cost of ownership. Ensure that the vendor can give you the best total cost of ownership across the life of the system. Configurability – ensure that the system has adapted to some of the processes that work for your organization, that you are not changing all your processes to fit with the system. Some of the processes recommended by a vendor are often the best possible process available, but there are times when as a niche business, you have specific needs that need to be adhered to. Stability – length of time that the system has been used by existing users and its reliability in delivering the desired outputs over that period. Integration - internal between functions/applications of the system as well as the ability to interface/integrate with other systems/applications/desktop. Corporate service and support – continually research the capability of the vendor to provide a high level of services and ongoing support. Ensure that the vendor has the ability to scale to meet high demand, either through sub contracting or through partners. Corporate viability – constantly examine the financial and management strength of the vendor. Corporate strategy – ask the vendor for their corporate roadmap and strategy with specific timelines regarding how the product will be developed, sold, and supported within the specific market at least annually. Knowledge of market – ensure that the vendor you have chosen knows about FMIS in finance and is focused on business applications and not spread across other areas such as hardware. Speed of initial implementation – make sure that the vendor has demonstrated that they can implement upgrades in a reasonable amount of time and they have a strong process for upgrade implementation. Work with the user community – join the user groups available for the FMIS to get more value from the system and assess the extent to which the vendor supports the community and interacts with the user group. SSA Masterpiece/Net - The SSA Global FMIS SSA Masterpiece/Net incorporates the latest Internet technologies to allow immediate access to financial information regardless of time or location. Its unique design utilizes a Java ® thin-client to provide seamless financial management across multiple operating systems, databases and hardware platforms — from a desktop or via the Internet. Its powerful reporting and analysis tools enable informed decisions to be made that maximize profits and minimize costs, providing a lower total cost of ownership. SSA Masterpiece/Net Modules General Ledger – completely manage your entire accounting system high-volume accounting, budget and allocation processing multi-company, global enterprises integrated, multi-hierarchical account structure multiple budgeting methods and reporting capabilities multi-currency functions Accounts Payable – total payables management to control cash and expenses flexible and customizable to meet specific business needs multi-company, multi-currency, multi-bank and multi-national handling flexible payment processing, advance tracking and invoice registration Accounts Receivable – increase cash flow and take control of accounts comprehensive debt and credit management increase your cash flow and reduce delinquency autocash facilities to streamline cash application integration processing full international support features Purchasing – efficiently manage your entire procurement cycle provides tracking and control of purchasing from requisition to payment Fixed Assets – accurately report,track, control and utilize all assets internal and external asset accounting and property control unlimited depreciation books user-defined depreciation methods full integration with Purchasing and Accounts Payable Job Cost – take control of your projects – from beginning to end plan and record costs in the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) fast, accurate summary and detailed inquiry and reporting Draft Services – create negotiable instruments from Accounts Receivable increase credit management productivity reduce customer risk and optimize cash management Fund Accounting – total expenditure control meets the requirements of commitment accounting facilitates stringent budgetary control Inventory Control – effective inventory management monitor finished goods in multi-location environments Labor Distribution – control and report on labor costs and allocations automates accounting for labor costs, including project costing Business Communications Facility (BCF) – share data across the Internet SmartVision ™ – view, print, share, add notes and attach files to any SSA Masterpiece/Net report SmartLink™ – download online data in real time to Microsoft Excel ® spreadsheets, manipulate it and then upload it back to the host Business Process Flow (BPF) – automate the workflow of your organization Supported Environments AS/400® MVS UNIX® (Hewlett Packard ® , Sun®, IBM®, Sequent®) VSE® Windows NT® Supported Databases Datacom ® DB2 ® Informix ® Ingres II ® Oracle ® SQL® Server SSA Global Extension Solutions for SSA Masterpiece/Net SSA Global has a simple approach when it comes to extending the power of SSA Masterpiece/Net. We look for the best solutions in the marketplace and develop seamless integration interfaces to enable users to exploit the numerous benefits associated with advanced eBusiness technologies. Extended solutions include: eCommerce SSA Masterpiece/Net iProcurement powered by Digital Union® is a complete online procurement solution that integrates the entire supply chain and enables authorised buyers in an enterprise to initiate, manage and complete electronic purchasing transactions with a choice of approved supplier including request for quotation functions. Furthermore, it can also be set up to do reverse auctions using corresponding built-in features. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) SSA Masterpiece/Net CRM is a suite of collaborative, Internet-based CRM and analytics solutions powered by industry leaders Applix® – and specially modified for the needs of Masterpiece users. It lets companies track and coordinate marketing, sales, customer and partner service, quality assurance and helpdesks; and helps global organisations capture, access and analyse customer data through their channel of choice, 24x7x365. It comprises four linked Masterpiece modules: CRM Sales, CRM Service, CRM Helpdesk and CRM Analytics. Business Intelligence – Enterprise Performance Analytics The bottom line for any competing business is that they need to be on top of business trends: monitoring what the company is doing well and what could be done better; understanding market shifts and use that information to improve and grow strategically. Pre-packaged Enterprise Performance Analytics solution, powered by market leader Cognos®, is the answer to reaching these goals. It incorporates leading-edge analytical and reporting tools to deliver a best-of-breed Business Intelligence solution for SSA Masterpiece/Net. Functional data marts in Sales, Inventory, Procurement, General Ledger, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable can be deployed department by department. When implemented together, they create a rich data warehouse that provides an essential 360° view of the business and allows valuable cross-departmental analysis. EPA answers 600 critical business questions, using more than 400 key business measurements and over 200 predefined reports that allow business managers to analyse sales performance, build customer profiles, understand buying trends and monitor product performance and overall organisational effectiveness. About SSA Global SSA Global™ is the 4th largest provider of extended enterprise resource planning (E RP) solutions for manufacturing, services, and public organizations worldwide. In Australia and New Zealand, SSA Global is number one in the manufacturing market. In additi on to core ERP applications, SSA Global offers a full range of integrated extended solutions including corporate performance management, customer relationship management, supply chain management and supplier relationship management. Headquartered globally in Chicago and locally for the APJ region in Sydney, SSA Global has 121 worldwide offic es serving more than 16,000 customers that represent market-leading companies in over 90 count ries. For additional information, visit the SSA Global web site at www.ssaglobal.com/pacific.