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Rapid ERP Implementation: Keys to a smooth setup & transition

Faustine Rohr-Lacoste
Faustine Rohr-Lacoste Spendesk

Enterprise resource planning software--ERP for short--has been a hot topic for CFOs all over the world. We know that successful ERP implementation can be an invaluable resource for finance teams to understand the scope of everything budget and spend-related in their company. 

However, most CFOs know that ERPs can be a time-consuming nightmare to implement, often taking up to six months to install entirely. Even then, there can be vulnerabilities like inaccurate data compromising the entire system, or structural constraints once fully set up. 

On this CFO Connect webinar, we talk about rapid ERP implementation planning. How can companies get set up quickly and accurately, while preventing some (or all) of the pain points that are all too common in this process? 

We spoke with Ross Latta and Stephen Campbell, founders of Macrofin, NetSuite implementation experts, to discuss the issue and their solutions. 

Creating MacroFin as the leading ERP implementation solution

Stephen: I got pulled into a lot of ERP implementations during my time as an accountant, I did SAP, Dynamics, FinancialForce, and NetSuite twice as a customer. And so I experienced a lot of issues, which then kind of led to us kind of setting up MacroFin to try and resolve some of those. 

Some of them being: the people implementing it tended to be from an IT background only, and could sometimes struggle to kind of understand some of the business processes that we required —  things like technical revenue recognition — and I would have to get very involved in and make sure those parts of the project went well. And then the training that we'd received, I never really felt that it was quite enough for us to be self-sufficient and get the most out of the system after we've gone live. 

So when we were setting up, we decided to focus on NetSuite, as I bought it twice as a customer, and found it was the best system that I've used. And NetSuite has a methodology called SuiteSuccess, which is well-suited to rapid implementation, as there's a lot of reports and dashboards and best practices out of the box.

Choosing the right implementation partner

Stephen: Find out the experience of the partner. Have they been end-user? I find that it’s one thing to understand all of the functionality of the system, and another to know how people will use it on a day-to-day basis. 

If they have actually used the system, this helps when you get to a point during the implementation where you're not sure how you want it set up. Otherwise this could drag out the implementation, if you can’t get advice straight away.

Also if you've got multiple work streams and different integrations happening, you might have multiple partners doing these different streams. So you need to have someone internally coordinating those. There's no point in saying we're on a rapid ERP implementation if the integrations are going to take four or five months. If you don't have someone internally that can coordinate those, make sure to reach out to one of the partners--probably the ERP partner--to coordinate that for you. Don't assume that they will be managing all of those for you, because it can have a massive effect on your timeline, especially if you're trying to do this rapidly.

Preparing your data for migration

Ross: This is an aspect of the project work stream that can often get overlooked because the focus is on the system configuration and design. When it comes to the data, the client at the end is responsible for this piece. 

The partner will load it for you, but the client needs to extract information from the existing systems, cleanse it, and reconcile it once it's in the new system. Your internal project manager should be on top of this data stream, they should be comfortable and it should be populated correctly. The cleaner the data, the better.

It's very important to start early on this because you don't want to be rushed during the data at the end of the project, you want the main resources on your team, focused on getting the cut-over ready, training your end-users. However, if you want to go live rapidly to start using the system in just a couple of months, you need to assess what is important from a data perspective for day one.

Being agile in scoping requirements for go-live

Stephen: Our standard implementation is four months to get clients live and getting the most out of the system. We have started offering faster go-lives, but the key thing is to reduce the scope. So I think the first step if you really want a rapid go-live is to figure out what is the minimal viable product that you need from day one and really scrutinize. Does everything have to be there? 

For example, you might be moving from a system that doesn't have a PO process. So moving to a new ERP, you've decided you want a PO process, but you haven't figured it out yet, and you never had it before.

So you should weigh up whether you actually need to have that for day one or if it's better to get live within a couple of months, and then implement that section when you actually understand more of the features of the new ERP and have more of a handle on what your process could be. 

Determining the optimal company size to set up new ERP implementation 

Ross: I think the right size is when you are starting to expand. I would recommend size-wise, it's ideal to move to the ERP before you experience the growth that you're planning to hit. So have all your processes in place and that project out of the way before you start getting really busy with the growth that you've foreseen.

Especially in Europe, when a business expands it means moving to new jurisdictions. And if you're starting to see that expansion creating extra work for your team to manually meet local reporting requirements and consolidate to produce results, that's when you should really be thinking about moving to an ERP. 

Also if the scale of the volume of transactions is rapidly increasing and your current systems can't handle that--the ERP platform will be able to handle the very high volume transactions. 

So if you do have those growth plans, I'd recommend that's the right time to start thinking about the ERP project, not after you've already expanded in that to build out a big finance team to deal with the manual work.

About MacroFin

MacroFin are experts in the design and implementation of NetSuite systems and financial processes. Finance expertise is at the core of their approach. They’ve worked in senior management roles in finance teams and they know first hand the challenges your team is facing. They understand the systems, the processes, what works and what doesn’t when it comes to a well-designed and effectively optimised ERP system.


Ross Latta

Co-founder of Macrofin

Ross is an MBA qualified Chartered Accountant with more than a decade of finance experience working with C-Suite and director-level stakeholders for leading global companies including Warner Bros. UK, Telstra, Dext, and BDO. Ross has led over 25 successful NetSuite implementations in the past 3 years, including a recent implementation for a global business with over 450 employees and operations spanning across 16 countries.


Stephen Campbell

Co-founder of Macrofin

Stephen’s unique skill set combines a Master’s Degree in Computer Science and training as a Big 4 Chartered Accountant. His vast experience includes operating as Group Financial Controller in a wide range of industries. Stephen has provided the technical oversight and solution architecture design for over 40 NetSuite customers and has experience with other systems such as SAP, Dynamics and FinancialForce.

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