In an article that is published in a Dutch management magazine, Fred Conijn, PA finance, control and information systems expert, explains how to implement a multidimensional information system in a practical way. Fred states: ‘If chain thinking is key and the interaction between the various business units determines the success of the organisation, it is difficult to get information about the market (customers, segments and channels), the realisation of products and services and the contribution to this realisation of the different parts of the organisation.’ This is caused by the strong separation of the control of sales, production and purchasing and their separate information sources and services.
In practice, the process approach is often used with the implementation of information systems. The controller can determine the journal entries, after business units have worked on processes separately. Fred says: ´This causes discussions during the configuration, delay and loss of quality due to time constraints.´
This can be prevented by preparing in advance, not only preparing a structure (chart or accounts), but also by determining the financial consequences of the most important business events and their related bookings. This can be achieved by using the following deliverables: business model, multidimensional chart of accounts, financial consequences of company-specific events and multidimensional journal entries. Fred says: ´The approach is unconventional, but has proven itself in practice.´
The approach is relevant to many companies that currently struggle with the design of their control function and integration with IT systems. Specific experiences in practice are related to determining journal entries only after determining the processes. This is a standard pitfall. To provide good cohesive multidimensional information to finance and control, a clear picture of the structure of the information and the essential details necessary for this information to be built up, must be available beforehand.
Fred writes: ´This is an important design criterion for the entire system. It is not possible to get that consistency afterwards without rework, or the system does not deliver what it should deliver. The quality of the primary data determines the quality of the information.´ The good news is that finance and control in practice has proved to be very able to lay the foundation of a multidimensional information system.
Fred concludes: ‘The implementation of a multidimensional information system with a companywide vision and a focus on business specific events translated to transaction levels will give opportunity to deliver information management solutions where finance will have a detailed, consistent control directly incorporated in the system.’
Fred Conijn is a finance, control and information systems expert at PA Consulting Group
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