Peter Lumley, business intelligence specialist at PA Consulting Group, has been quoted in the Financial Times ‘The Connected Business’ special report. Most large enterprises and many medium-sized and small businesses have installed enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, to provide the technological underpinning for their business activities. Peter argues that even with the best ERP systems, organisations will struggle if they have not paid attention to good accounting practices. Technology alone is not enough.
Peter comments: "Just getting the basics right is what delivers speed in closing the accounts. I have been working with a company that had multiple general ledger structures: when it came to consolidating their results they had to do a huge amount of re-orienting, restructuring and moving data around.
"We helped implement a new general ledger structure across Europe and that has made a big difference."
Peter goes on to point out that there are a number of factors to consider when you try to move finance on to a technological footing: "The first is about master data: getting the organisational structure right – common data structures, consistent use of document types, common policies, common controls. The next is about end-to-end business work flow, where you can have lots of people all doing things slightly differently."
Peter gives the example of an issue whose resolution may lie outside the finance department – clearing an invoice for a customer payment: "Technology can help, but it will not solve the problem. You have to understand where these external processes affect you."
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