How to choose the right finance system

“Money makes the world go round” – John Kander

Hunter Boot had a challenge. The limitations of their existing legacy finance system made serving the needs of customers a challenge. It’s a familiar tale. Legacy systems hindering performance and restricting growth and ambition. But should you be fortunate enough to gain investment to change, what would you ask of your new system? Here’s how Mark Reed, CFO of Hunter Boot, approached just such an opportunity/challenge.

Indicators for change

How do you know when it’s time for change – what are the indicators? For Mark there are often many factors that, when combined, make the argument for transformation more compelling. “I’ve been in a business once before where we had an ERP that wasn’t integrated with a finance system. The process was clunky, and this brought about change.”

A lack of integration is one indicator. And this can be quantified by the amount of manual time, resource, and cost, that is required to bridge the gap between systems. The nature, scale, location, and type of business will also serve as indicators of whether existing systems are up to the job. Or not. “The other thing would be where you’ve got systems not meeting your requirements, both in terms of the geographic spread of the business, the multicurrency nature and also performance and sizing capabilities.”

For Mark and Hunter Boot, investment into the business provided the means to transform. The case for change was already there, so now the task was to set out their business requirements versus available solutions. “One of our strategies is to be digitally focused and off the back of that comes a joined-up system which is connected with partners and gives the flexibility to collect a lot of data, analyse it and draw the insights and the value.”

What to look for in your transformation solution

Flexibility was key to Mark and Hunter Boots selection of a finance system. So as the business grows and changes, and as the needs of customers evolve, the system is able to adapt.

With one eye on the future, another important consideration is whether the solution has a defined roadmap. With the number of developments and changes in the market, and with business and consumer behaviour moving quickly, a solution with a defined roadmap allows you to add new modules and capabilities to an existing solution over time.

Mark put it like this: “Someone explained to me once that you’re not going in a straight line so it’s a bit like a river, meandering along. And you need the flexibility to maintain the direction of travel but move along the course of the river and add things and improve things along the way as opposed to being structurally blocked in what you do.”

This is precisely the place many organisations find themselves in. Locked into a system and cycle of operation where limited flexibility prevents you from adapting or taking advantage of opportunities. And is exactly the place Mark and Hunter Boot sought to avoid. They demanded flexibility from their new system. For Mark, part of this flexibility comes from limiting customisation and maintaining something close to the core solution, removing future barriers of development.

Bringing transformation back to the purpose

An important element to successful transformation is in aligning and having the right people. People who understand the plan, get the vision, and buy into what you’re proposing from a system and change point of view. And who understand the enablers needed to drive that plan out.

Transforming entire business processes is not a simple decision. You know this. It’s an incredibly time and resource intensive process requiring large amounts of capital. And so, of course, give careful thought to solution and partner selection. For Mark it was important to work with a partner that has a roadmap of new functionality catering for future changes, but which wouldn’t cause significant disruption when brought in. This was also one of the reasons a cloud solution in Dynamics 365 was chosen.

Keeping the key business drivers front of mind during business case development and solution and partner choice also ensures what you end up with aligns to, and solves, the original challenges. This whilst addressing future aspirations with confidence. This was something Mark kept front of mind: “It all links into the three-year plan that we have. The goals, aspirations, the geographical spread that we need and the ability to actually deliver those and deliver to that plan.”

  • For more information on HSOs approach to Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations solution click here