LOOKING AT NEW SYSTEMS?

Want an effective system? Quickly?

When contemplating new systems, be they in the cloud or on-premise, there’s a variety of things to consider:

  1. What problems with existing systems need to be fixed?
  2. How do systems fit into business strategy and plans for the next 3-5 years?
  3. What is the scope of the system? What business processes does it need to cover? What does it need to integrate with?
  4. What are the key reporting requirements? (Best not taken for granted)
  5. What are other key requirements, especially any unusual?
  6. Collect test data for product demonstrations or trialing a cloud system
  7. Consider other aspects such as cloud 'hygiene' factors (security, uprade process, continuity of access etc)

 

In all but the simplest situations it pays to document these matters in a “User Requirements Specification” (URS). This provides:

  • An opportunity to carefully consider requirements
  • An early opportunity for management and other people affected to contribute. This is key to them  buying into the subsequent implementation
  • Blueprint for assessing a cloud or other packaged offering. This can be with or without a formal tender process
  • Vision and objectives for the implementation. The URS can form the basis for a briefing note for any new people involved.

For all these purposes the URS needs to be concise but comprehensive. This is something that can be done in-house, but is always better done with external help:

  • An independent view can provide a better overall vision, balancing the needs of the different departments involved
  • Experience counts as to what needs to be put in, and what detail is better left out
  • Typically quicker overall
  • The cost is minimal compared with the potential improvements in business efficiency that can be added, or the cost of mistakes avoided

How Camwells Experience Can Help You

Camwells has helped a variety of businesses from start-ups to quoted companies, including:

  1. Any cloud alternative to Sun?: An upstream oil & gas company needed a system that could provide sophisticated reporting and analysis, across multiple sites where telecoms were poor. Traditionally Sun with Vision would be used in this industry. A cloud-based solution was found that provided better analysis than Sun (including aspects of projects), better reporting than Vision  (being re-written by the Vision authors), better disaster recovery and other advantages, all at a lower cost.
     
  2. Solving a month-end nightmare: A £30m quoted IT company was using spreadsheets for its customer projects, alongside an established accounting system. Key staff were threatening to resign. Could a packaged or bespoke module be added? Would it be better to replace the system completely? Discussions of the spec also helped to resolve a number of political issues. The resulting system met the business needs so well, when the company was taken over, the system was chosen for the group. This saved the jobs of the entire accounting team, including FD and FC.
     
  3. Enhance or replace?: An AIM-quoted international group's accounting and order processing systems were not producing the reports required. Additional functionality was required, and support from the reseller had been poor. For a £40m turnover, should the system be enhanced, perhaps with a different reseller, or changed? The CFO was delighted with how quickly the specification was finalised, and then how quickly a shortlist of possible solutions was established.
     
  4. Replacing Excel: A £250m quoted IT group was having increasing problems with their spreadsheet-based budgeting and forecasting systems. Management weren’t getting the reports they needed, the spaghetti of spreadsheets was held together with “sticking plaster”, and there was significant concern as to whether reports contained material errors. Should the ledgers also be replaced? The URS provided a clear vision of what the forecasting and ledger systems should deliver, and provided a strong foundation for the subsequent selection.
     
  5. Refining Scope: A £15m investment banking group wanted to replace their Sage Line 50 accounting system with a full multi-currency system. A spec had already been produced, and a system provisionally selected. Discussions with various management established that the scope needed to be changed, and independence helped resolve disagreements. Whilst the same system was chosen, the new spec helped to support a more effective implementation.

 

Next Step

 

Would you also like to benefit from Camwells helping you meet your system objectives?

 

Just give Chris Challis, Managing Partner, a ring on 07836 774439, or send us an email

 

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To benefit from our expertise and experience, please ring

07836 774439

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was founded in 1993.