Does your Chart of Accounts still fit your Organisations Reporting Requirements?

Does your Chart of Accounts still fit your Organisations Reporting Requirements?

October 23rd, 2020

Are you able to output the reports that your business requires straight from your Unit4 Financials system, without resorting to end user computing? If not, then your current Chart of Accounts design may no longer be fit for purpose.

In Unit4 Financials (U4F) the chart of accounts is not just a list of GL codes. It encompasses all of the accounting codes in your business including cost centres, projects, vat rates, customers, suppliers, employees, etc. and It does this through its element structure.

Your information is held in a specific location in its element structure. Through the flexible nature of this design users are able to produce any number of customised reports to reflect the state of their business. To make the most of this level of flexibility it is vital that your element structure is optimised to produce the correct information with minimal manual intervention.

As your business grows, the nature of the reporting requirements changes, and so your original chart of accounts may no longer be suitable to support this. Whilst most small businesses initially set up their accounting to meet GAAP and FRS requirements, they can often overlook the importance of having a robust Management accounting structure .

Management Accounting allows you to create the financial reporting that provides you with the information to manage your business. With a properly designed chart of accounts you can fulfil both your internal management accounting and statutory reporting.

Remodelling your chart of accounts can allow you to produce both your management and statutory reporting using standard Unit4 Financials Functionality, such as generic browse. It will also allow you to use more powerful analytical tools like metadata queries to produce more value-added reporting.

A properly designed Managerial Accounting chart of accounts will provide the following:

Here at Millennium Consulting, we can help you design a new chart of accounts and element structure within U4F to reflect your current business needs. Our skilled staff can undertake workshops to understand your organisational reporting needs and create an element structure and chart of accounts that will drive your business. To discuss further or arrange a workshop, please reply to this email.

Contact us for further details


If you would like any further information on this subject, please submit your details and one of our experts will be in touch.


The future of the cloud: key trends in focus

The future of the cloud: key trends in focus

October 5th, 2020

With IT departments facing budget pressures, we might have expected cloud adoption plans to be put on ice. But in fact, the opposite has been the case. Recent trends have shown that financial constraints actually strengthen the case in favour of cloud migration.

Here’s a closer look at why, despite a challenging business landscape, cloud-based digital transformation has continued apace…

The cloud and business survival
Business continuity was the big priority in the first half of the year. As lockdowns took hold, firms needed new solutions for communication, collaboration, as well as remote access to business data and applications. Cloud-based services proved pivotal in ensuring operational continuity.

In its global cloud services overview, Canalys found that spending on cloud infrastructure services jumped 11 percent in Q2 2020 compared to the previous three months, and was up 30 percent year-on-year.

Fast forward to the autumn, and most firms have already covered the basics to adjust to remote working. So does this mean we are about to witness a dampening down on cloud adoption? It seems not.

COVID-19 has forced organisations to reassess their strategic priorities. KPMG, in its recent Enterprise Reboot report found that whereas the emphasis back in March was on continuity, “the immediate focus is now on survival”. Companies are investing in the areas where their cash is likely to have the biggest positive impact.

This includes investment in technologies that help companies maintain customer and stakeholder trust, to keep remote workforces connected, and to ensure that businesses are prepared for further disruptions.

Business decision making is another priority area. To compete, businesses need the ability to react quickly to changing circumstances, which means the ability to query data at speed is essential. On top of this, IT architecture must be compatible with increasingly demanding data analytics methods.

It means that more than ever, organisations need data warehousing solutions that are powerful, scalable, flexible and secure. This is precisely the type of environment that the cloud can offer. 38% of companies plan to increase their cloud spend this year (up from 31% last year). Small wonder that cloud adoption is continuing apace.

Slow adopters change their attitude
Some sectors have been markedly more reluctant than others to embrace the cloud. Factors holding organisations back include regulatory compliance rules (especially over data storage), nervousness over data security, and fears over reliability and data availability.

The banking sector was traditionally seen more cautious than most when it came to the cloud. Now though, things are changing. As a couple of high profile examples, AWS has recently agreed a multi-year partnership with HSBC, while Google Cloud has linked up with Deutsche Bank. For the banks, the emphasis is on modernising their architecture, increasing their data analytics capabilities and creating a more personalised customer experience.

So what is driving the change of mind? Money plays a big part. Whether you’re a global bank or an SME, it’s often the case that switching to the cloud is a cheaper way to scale up your capacity and capabilities, compared to trying to overhaul your on-premise legacy architecture.

It’s also the case that the cloud itself has evolved. For instance, improved container technology makes it much easier to deploy multiple cloud providers as back up, significantly reducing the chances of an outage. On the security front, there’s also the realisation that tapping into the cyber security expertise of the likes of AWS, Google and Microsoft is likely to be a safer bet than relying solely on in-house security capabilities. As fears over reliability and security are reduced, the case in favour of the cloud becomes impossible to ignore.

Achieving success and managing expectations in 2020 and beyond
The cloud promises a lot. But organisations need to realise that cloud migration is not necessarily a quick fix for whatever challenges they happen to be facing.

A reminder of this came in a recent survey of 350 companies by security vendors Fortinet and supply chain specialists, IHS Markit. Of the respondents, 74% had migrated at least one asset into the cloud, only to later move it back into their on-premise infrastructure. The two top reasons for the reversal, cited by 52% of respondents, were performance and security.

Organisations migrate their data and applications to the cloud for a wide variety of reasons. For instance, it could be to support wider business transformation initiatives, to boost your storage capacity, to facilitate wider systems access, to reduce your IT spend – or a combination of all of these and more.

These days, with resources under pressure, it’s going to be more important than ever for businesses to take a planned, measured approach to cloud adoption. What do we expect from the cloud – and what do we want to do when we get there? Only once you have articulated this can you define the performance levels you need – and hone in on the specific cloud solutions you need in order to reach them.

Why Millennium Consulting?

Our cloud migration expertise – combined with innovative tools for data cleansing, mapping and reconciliation – ensure that your move to the cloud is as efficient and effective as possible.

Contact us for further details


Looking for help with a move to the cloud? Submit your details and one of our experts will be in touch.


Millennium Million Step Challenge

Millennium Million Step Challenge

October 1st, 2020

Please support us with this worthwhile initiative! You are invited to take part in the Millennium Million Step Challenge to help us reach our combined overall target of 100 million steps by the end of the year whilst raising £10,000 for UK charity Shelter UK.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced funds raised by most charities this year and we expect that UK homeless people will be particularly affected this coming winter. We are now asking volunteers to support us by taking part in the Million Step Challenge to raise funds at the Millennium Million Step Challenge “Shelter” Just Giving page.

Download the ‘Move Spring’ app and join our challenge using this link: https://app.movespring.com/signup/confirm-organization and connect your fitness tracking device.

We have set a deadline of Sunday 13th December 2020 – join us today and you’ll need to walk an average of 13,700 steps per day to reach 1 million (73 days!) Walking 20,000 steps per day will take 50 days. The app will record yours and overall group steps so progress can be tracked towards the overall target of 100 million steps.

Ask your friends and families to sponsor you at our Just Giving page and/or also take part.


Millennium Consulting Recognised as Unit4 Financials Top Partner

Millennium Consulting Recognised as Unit4 Financials Top Partner

August 5th, 2020

Last month (June 2020) Unit4 announced a partnership with Raven Intel, an independent review site allowing customers to share feedback and experience.

Millennium Consulting are delighted to report we have been recognised as the top Financials Partner; receiving the most reviews – twenty one positive reviews to date, with a near-perfect score of 4.8/5.

For 25 years, we have built a reputation for quality, value and delivery. We provide global solutions and services across the world’s most demanding industries, with customers in finance, logistics, construction and manufacturing.

We call it the Millennium advantage…

Read our reviews

VAT News: MTD ‘Digital Links’ Deadline Extended to 1 April 2021

VAT News: MTD ‘Digital Links’ Deadline Extended to 1 April 2021

May 6th, 2020

Does your business still need to get its VAT accounts 100% digitally linked? If so, HMRC has announced some welcome breathing space.

The ‘soft landing period’ for Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT was due to come to an end on 31 March 2020, but has now been extended by a year. It means that all businesses have until their first VAT return period starting on or after 1 April 2021 to put full digital links in place.

Here’s a closer look at the scope of this extension, the broader requirements of MTD – and at how to make sure you stay on the right side of the rules.

Making Tax Digital: A Quick Overview

First announced in the 2015 Spring Budget, MTD is the government’s initiative for modernising the UK’s business tax framework. It’s aim is to make tax admin more effective, efficient, and fairer.

The plan, ultimately, is to bring all business taxes under the MTD umbrella. It’s an ambitious project, involving a fundamental shift from paper to digital record keeping, and from annual to quarterly reporting. To ensure compliance, it requires businesses to reassess both their reporting procedures and the accounting tools they currently have in place.

VAT has been the first area of focus in the plan. As from April 2019, the vast majority of VAT-registered businesses with a taxable turnover above the VAT threshold (£85,000) are now covered by the MTD framework.

Software requirements for MTD

Businesses caught by MTD are required to shift their VAT accounting to “functional compatible software”. In short, the software must be capable of storing and maintaining the organisation’s VAT records. It must enable the preparation of VAT returns using the information maintained in those records. It must also be capable of linking up with HMRC digitally through HMRC’s own API platform.

But what happens if your accounting processes involve more than one software application? Or what if you use spreadsheets for your accounting?

Where data is scattered across more than one location or systems, you can still be MTD-compliant, so long as you have a digital link in place for transferral of the data.

What is a digital link?

HMRC rules specify that in order to be compliant with MTD rules, a digital link must have two characteristics:

  • Data must be transferred electronically between programs, products or applications.
  • The transfer must be automated. In other words, the process of transferring the data must not involve any manual intervention, such as copying and pasting it from a spreadsheet to another location.

What is the ‘soft landing’?

It is essentially a ‘grace period’, providing businesses with time to get their technology in order. So during the soft landing period only, if a company has not been able to set up complete and effective digital links between its various software programs, spreadsheets and locations, HMRC will accept the use of ‘cut and paste’ or ‘copy and paste’ as a digital link.

Businesses should still note, however, that even during this soft landing period, you still need to use MTD-compliant software for actually submitting your VAT return to HMRC.

How to become fully MTD compliant

Full automation of your VAT processes isn’t just essential for compliance purposes, it also makes perfect sense for your business. Not least, it helps reduce the time and resources you need to commit to VAT reporting, freeing up your finance team to focus on driving your business forward.

With our partners, Avalara, we offer a one-stop solution to automate all forms of VAT compliance in the UK, Europe and over 50 countries around the world. To join up your multiple systems, to stay compliant and to free up your resources, speak to Millennium Consulting today.

The current tax landscape – Brexit, MTD, COVID from Avalara: Automated Tax Software

Watch a presentation from Avalara as they take a look at the impact of recent events on businesses when it comes to tax compliance.

Presented live at The Millennium Consulting Unit4 Financials Global Virtual Conference in May 2020.


Budget 2020 and the government's support package: What it means for UK tech

Budget 2020 and the government’s support package: What it means for UK tech

March 1st, 2020

Rishi Sunak’s first Budget was remarkable for several reasons. The first was its sheer scale, including an estimated £30bn of coronavirus-related stimulus. The second was the speed at which the package was overtaken by events.

Less than a week after the Budget was delivered, the government announced a £350bn package of grants and loan guarantees designed to help see businesses through the crisis. Next came a scheme for the government to pay the wages of furloughed employees, followed by similar arrangements for the self-employed: spending commitments that are expected to top £75bn.

But alongside the headline announcements and the unprecedented support package that followed it, the Budget (and subsequent announcements) also contained a number of provisions directly relevant to the UK’s tech sector. Here’s a roundup of what you may have missed…

IR35 changes pushed back by one year

With independent contractors forming such a significant part of the UK’s tech sector workforce, the proposed changes to the off-payroll working legislation (IR35) has been a cause of considerable concern.

IR35 is meant to address the perceived problem of ‘disguised employment’, whereby workers operate notionally as independent contractors and bill for their services via an intermediary (usually a limited company), resulting in a lower tax and NI liability. However, Many tech firms routinely use contract labour to help de-risk their business models as a flexible way to plug temporary skills gaps.

Originally, changes to IR35 impacting large and medium-sized private sector organisations were due to come into force on 6 April 2020. These changes shift the responsibility for determining a worker’s employment status from the contractor to the hirer. It’s a big burden for many firms – and reports suggested that many employers and contractors were simply not prepared for it.

Welcome news came shortly after the Budget, when it was announced that these IR35 changes have been pushed back until April 2021. Be warned though: the Business Secretary, Steve Barclay made it clear that this decision was “a deferral, not a cancellation, and the government remains committed to reintroducing this policy”.

Rishi Sunak’s first Budget was remarkable for several reasons. The first was its sheer scale, including an estimated £30bn of coronavirus-related stimulus. The second was the speed at which the package was overtaken by events.

Less than a week after the Budget was delivered, the government announced a £350bn package of grants and loan guarantees designed to help see businesses through the crisis. Next came a scheme for the government to pay the wages of furloughed employees, followed by similar arrangements for the self-employed: spending commitments that are expected to top £75bn.

But alongside the headline announcements and the unprecedented support package that followed it, the Budget (and subsequent announcements) also contained a number of provisions directly relevant to the UK’s tech sector. Here’s a roundup of what you may have missed…

IR35 changes pushed back by one year

With independent contractors forming such a significant part of the UK’s tech sector workforce, the proposed changes to the off-payroll working legislation (IR35) has been a cause of considerable concern.

IR35 is meant to address the perceived problem of ‘disguised employment’, whereby workers operate notionally as independent contractors and bill for their services via an intermediary (usually a limited company), resulting in a lower tax and NI liability. However, Many tech firms routinely use contract labour to help de-risk their business models as a flexible way to plug temporary skills gaps.

Originally, changes to IR35 impacting large and medium-sized private sector organisations were due to come into force on 6 April 2020. These changes shift the responsibility for determining a worker’s employment status from the contractor to the hirer. It’s a big burden for many firms – and reports suggested that many employers and contractors were simply not prepared for it.

Welcome news came shortly after the Budget, when it was announced that these IR35 changes have been pushed back until April 2021. Be warned though: the Business Secretary, Steve Barclay made it clear that this decision was “a deferral, not a cancellation, and the government remains committed to reintroducing this policy”.


Is tech hiring about to get harder?

IR35 and the private sector: Is tech hiring about to get harder?

January 23rd, 2020

From April 2020, the government’s revised off-payroll working legislation (IR35) will apply to the private sector. By making the fee payer responsible for determining a worker’s employment status, these new rules represent a significant shift in liability from contractor to hirer. Already, a succession of big-name enterprises have phased out limited company contractors in favour of permanent hires. So should your business take a similar approach?

Here’s a closer look at what’s changed, and at what this means for your wider hiring strategy.

IR35: the new private sector rules

IR35 is HMRC’s answer to the perceived problem of “disguised employment”: arrangements akin to employment where workers bill for their services through an intermediary (usually their own personal services company) purely as a means of reducing their tax and NI liability. If the arrangement falls within IR35, HMRC will tax it along the same lines as a standard employment relationship.

In 2017, the IR35 rules covering the public sector were changed to shift two key responsibilities from the worker to the hirer. From 6 April 2020, similar rules will apply to the private sector.

Here are the two main changes:

  • Previously, contractors were required to determine and declare their own IR35 status. From April, this status determination becomes the responsibility of the organisation using the worker’s service (the ‘end user’).
  • If the arrangement falls within IR35, the organisation responsible for paying for the worker’s service (the ‘fee payer’) is responsible for calculating and deducting tax and NI through PAYE. The end user and fee payer will usually be the same party; one notable exception being agency hires where the agency is responsible for paying the worker’s fees.

Does the rule change apply to my company?

The new rules apply to medium and large employers, defined as follows:

Unincorporated bodies with a turnover of more than £10.2m.

Incorporated bodies (companies, LLPs, unregistered or overseas companies) where two of the following apply:

  • Annual turnover of more than £10.2m
  • Balance sheet total of more than £5.1m
  • More than 50 employees.

Where a parent company meets the threshold, the new rules will also apply to all subsidiaries.

Your recruitment model: questions to ask

If you currently engage meaningful numbers of contractors, now is the time to review both your existing arrangements and your wider hiring practices.

For some businesses, the nuclear approach may seem tempting: to bring all existing independent contractor arrangements to an end and offer to re-engage those contractors as permanent or fixed-term employees. This means automatically taking a hit in terms of employers’ NI, but it side-steps the need to evaluate the IR35 status of each and every contractor, and removes the risk of sleepwalking into non-compliance.

But does calling time on contractors actually make sense from a business perspective? Especially when it comes to bringing tech talent on board, the contract model is often a natural fit: it provides vital support for project delivery, it equips businesses to deal with fluctuations in demand, and helps to plug skills gaps – often at short notice. Rather than jettisoning the contract model completely, organisations should ask the following questions:

  • Which roles is there a business case for bringing in-house?
  • When, and under what circumstances is there a business case for hiring independent contractors?
  • For those contractors, how do we construct the arrangement to avoid IR35 liability?

Permanent recruitment: time to take stock

GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Lloyds Bank, HSBC and Barclays have all opted to phase out the use of contractors operating through personal service companies, mostly offering to re-engage existing contractors on PAYE terms.

The bigger the organisation, the greater the likelihood of being able to take this type of blanket approach. As well as being able to absorb the cost of adding large numbers of staff to payroll, the typical multinational tends to have considerable leverage in the recruitment market – so, isolated gripes aside, persuading contractors to stay is less likely to be an issue.

But let’s say you are head of HR at a software house with 50+ permanent staff already, and a similar number of PSC contractors. Compared to a bluechip, the financial implications of adding large numbers of extra people to payroll at a stroke are likely to be much more significant. As an alternative, this may be a prime opportunity to take a wider view of your staffing strategy, review your operating model, to assess what skills you need to drive the business forward and to cut back on overlapping roles.

Will it be harder to recruit and retain after April?

In a word, probably: especially if you are forcing current workers and new hires to accept a status determination they are unhappy with.

Switching contractors to PAYE can reduce their income by as much as 25%. For one thing, salaries are taxed at a higher percentage rate than dividend payments through a PSC. They will also likely find themselves out of pocket for many of the expenses they were previously claiming.

On top of the financial benefits of operating through a PSC, many workers also appreciate the freedom and flexibility that the model offers. Try to force them onto payroll and they may be inclined to walk away. For instance, one survey suggests that 59% of contractors would consider working for someone else if they found themselves caught within IR35 in their current role.

Particularly in specialist, in-demand areas such as data science and AI, firms are going to have to balance HMRC compliance, the needs of the business and the commercial realities of the recruitment market.

For example, let’s say you have assessed your star data engineer’s existing contract as falling within IR35 and they are uncomfortable about the idea of being added to your firm’s payroll. If money is the main bugbear, is there scope for negotiating a higher rate? Alternatively, could you formulate the new, salaried role so it better aligns with this contractor’s career goals? Good communication is essential here: only when you understand a contractor’s specific concerns about their employment status can you start to address them.

Accessing the right help

It’s important to remember that IR35 was never meant to eliminate bona fide contract arrangements. It is possible to continue to engage contractors through intermediaries and keep the arrangement outside of IR35, provided that you keep the contractor effectively at arm’s length from your organisation, allow that contractor control over their working processes, ideally provide a right of substitution and do not insist on exclusivity.

Do you need help in formulating contractor roles to stay outside of the scope of IR35? Need a tried-and-tested way to access permanent/temporary staff in the fields of AI and data science? Speak to Millennium Consulting today.


The key to technology implementation success

Committed and effective sponsorship; the key to technology implementation success

January 8th, 2020

When an organisation starts a new initiative or program it’s essential there is an influential sponsor or backer available to play an active part, provide support, promote the initiative and assign the resources needed to ensure it’s a success. But who would want to be a project sponsor as when things go well they rarely receive the credit and recognition they deserve? However, if things don’t go according to plan then the finger of blame is normally pointed in their direction and they typically pay the price and their career may be adversely impacted.

The role of backer or sponsor is crucial and without someone committed to running the program and being actively involved then it runs the risk of failure. Technology change programs in particular, require a Senior Executive to be responsible for ensuring they are successful. The Project Sponsor will normally be a senior Executive from within the organisation, often at or just below Board level who will actively drive the program and provide the link between the delivery team and the Board of Directors. They will need to possess authority and influencing powers to promote the change to the wider organisation, ensure the delivery team has the financial and personnel resources needed and that the necessary controls are in place to ensure it is delivered successfully within the planned timescales and budget.

Large scale change programs may encounter resistance, so the Sponsor needs to ensure there is buy-in and acceptance within the organisation. Strong communication skills and the ability to influence are vital because even with the best business case, resistance to change can lead to project failure. The PS will need to lead the change and support the project manager and their team navigating the organisation’s political terrain. They will provide high level project backing, act as an escalation route for the Project Manager, arbitrate/resolve conflicts should they arise and communicate project closure and the outcome to the organisation,

Their responsibilities include; preparing the project brief and the Project Initiation Document (PID); appraising technology options and submitting them to the Board of Directors for approval; ensuring an appropriate project or programme management framework is in place e.g. Prince 2, Agile, Waterfall etc; securing internal project resources and external expertise as necessary; arranging and chairing regular Project Steering Board meetings; liaising with affected department stake holders; determining and managing project risk; controlling the budget including allowing for contingent risk; co-ordinating and fostering a project team ethos; evaluating the performance of the project manager; establishing a formal project reporting structure; defining project control and management criteria; supporting the project manager with problem resolution and reviewing project update reports.

The Project Sponsor will act as a single point of contact with the project manager for the day-to-day management in the interests of the organisation. They will need to have sufficient knowledge of the organisation and the program to make informed strategic and operational decisions. The Sponsor should be able to apply quality management principles and processes; apply risk assessment and management principles and processes; network effectively; negotiate effectively and apply influence; broker relationships with key stakeholders within and outside the project; be aware of the broader perspective and how external factors may impact the project.

Project sponsorship is not a spectator sport and it is essential that the Sponsor is actively involved and committed to the successful delivery of the project. They should have the authority to make the majority of the key decisions and will act as project champion to ensure the expected outcome is delivered. With a strong effective Project Sponsor in post then there is every likelihood that the change program will be a success.

For more information regarding Project Sponsorship, please call us on +44(0) 845 604 4262 or contact us using our website form.


Millennium Consulting to celebrate 25th anniversary in 2020

Millennium Consulting to celebrate 25th anniversary in 2020

January 8th, 2020

This year Millennium Consulting will celebrate 25 years supporting clients with Finance Transformation and Regulatory Change initiatives. Having started in 1995 as a specialist SunSystems software consultancy the company soon recognised the wider challenges of Y2K and was engaged by clients to transition them to YTK compliant software.

Since the company’s inception CEO, Philip Keet, has continued to evolve its service and technology offerings and now Millennium provides digital, cloud transformation and recruitment consultancy services for clients worldwide; key customers have included some of the biggest brands in insurance, banking, retail, enterprise technology, and consumer experience.

“I am proud to announce 2020 as the company’s twenty-fifth anniversary of doing business, this is an exciting year for us! I’d like to thank our clients and our global team of talented individuals, all of whom have played a key role in Millennium reaching this exciting milestone. I am looking forward to celebrating with you all in the upcoming year”.
Philip Keet, Millennium Consulting CEO.

Celebrations are planned throughout the year to mark this significant anniversary including a summer birthday party and a commemorative photo book, as well as a series of special features, interviews, and social media content.


Selecting and successfully implementing ERP software

Selecting and successfully implementing ERP software

January 3rd, 2020

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software has progressed a long way in recent years with digital, cloud and artificial intelligence solutions entering the market and competing with traditional on-premise offerings. Emerging technologies together with corporate growth have fuelled demand for ERP solutions that automate business processes leading to reduced headcount and supporting corporate growth. The appeal of shared services, requirements of enhanced management information and post M&A corporate restructuring are also amongst the reasons why organisations decide to implement new ERP platforms.

Project Sponsor

Introducing new ERP is a considerable challenge requiring strong, effective project sponsorship from either the CFO, CTO or another member of senior management. The sponsor will provide the link between the delivery team and the Board of Directors and will oversee project governance. They will need the authority to promote change, ensure the delivery team has the resources needed and that the necessary controls are in place which will guarantee the project is successfully delivered within the planned timescales and budget.

Large change programs are likely to encounter resistance and a key role of the sponsor is to secure buy-in and support from the impacted parts of the organisation. Strong influencing skills are needed as even with the best business case, resistance to change can risk project failure. The sponsor supports the project manager overcoming political and resourcing challenges, provide high level backing, communicates project closure and the results to the wider organisation. They will also act as an escalation route if needed and arbitrate/resolve any areas of disagreement.

The Project Team

Project teams is typically a mix of software vendor consultants, third party systems integrators and internal personnel. The software vendor will provide in-depth software applications expertise whilst the systems integrator will focus on wider change management issues, new business processes and interfacing with third-party applications. The internal project team will be familiar with the organisation and the legacy business processes and will be able to contribute from an operational/ business perspective.

Software Selection

Having agreed upon the need for a new ERP platform, sufficient time should be given to specifying and selecting the most appropriate software product. In most cases external support will be needed as internal staff are unlikely to have the necessary experience and time available and may not objectively view the available options.

Initially a period of analysis and requirements gathering is needed leading to the production of the Request for Proposal (RFP). A list of potential vendors with products meeting business specifications will be sent the RFP and a short list chosen and vendors requested to demonstrate their products. A proof of concept (POC) may take place to evaluate the software under realistic conditions with authentic dummy data.

Vendors should be assessed not only on the suitability of their software but also on their long-term product road map, financial strength and future viability. Selecting the wrong product can be costly particularly if the vendor is acquired by a third party and their software deemed surplus to requirements and decommissioned.

The cost of implementing new ERP will include new computer hardware, software licences, external consulting fees and time devoted to the project by the internal team.

Existing hardware may be retained but may not have sufficient processing power to operate the new software. Overall implementation costs can be as much as 5 times the software licence fees depending upon configuration and hardware required. Other costs to consider include the effects of disrupting existing business processes and reduced management information whilst the deployment is in progress.

Project Management

Effective project management is essential to determine the scope, quality, budget and timing of the program and may involve the use of Prince, Agile or Waterfall project methodologies. Software vendors and consultancies may prefer their own internally developed project management methodology which will incorporate resource planning and milestone definition to ensure deadlines are achieved and bottle necks avoided.

Target Operating Model

The new ERP solution will be developed in line with a new Target Operating Model (TOM) and a prototype built and tested before the final design is agreed. It is essential that finance employees are involved with the systems design as their buy-in and involvement will contribute to the ultimate success of the project. The system can be built adopting either a standard out of the box approach or with customisation although this will depend upon the complexity of the business requirements and the amount of flexibility needed. Extensive customisation can lead to additional implementation costs and may provide challenges with long term support and future upgrade. User training is needed to ensure the operational knowledge is in place so the system operates effectively. Following the system build process, User Acceptance Training (UAT) and user training will be needed. Once the design is agreed and finalised then data conversion and migration will take place.

A parallel run with the old system may be performed however this can be costly and a Big Bang approach may be preferred in the interests of cost saving. Following “Go live”, support will be needed and a post “Go-live” review carried out to ensure users operate the system correctly and any outstanding performance issues are resolved.

Conclusion

The challenge and likely cost of implementing a new ERP platform should not be underestimated. Successful delivery involves three key areas; People, Processes and Technology. Projects can sometimes focus excessively on technology whilst human aspects of the change program may not be given the attention they deserve. A Change Management strategy and the availability of appropriate skills will help ensure the implementation is accepted and judged a success.

Key issues include; selecting appropriate software; ensuing there is a strong project sponsor and sufficient project governance; engaging delivery focussed project management; ensuring internal staff are fully involved and accept the new system; using the new system to improve business processes rather than simply replicating historic ways of doing things; assembling the most appropriate project team – normally a mix of internal personnel and external consultants and ensuring there is sufficient post go-live support to deal with outstanding issues.

Adopting these strategies will lead to; streamlined business processes; reduced employment cost; enhanced management information; ensuring that the organisation is committed to embracing technology to improve overall corporate performance.

Millennium Consulting has been supporting customers deploy and optimise ERP since the mid 1990’s. This has included selection, architecture, build, deployment, re-engineering and upgrade. Our customers expect the best ERP specialists available and we make it our responsibility to ensure their needs are met. If you would like some guidance on choosing or implementing new ERP software, please call us on +44(0) 845 604 4262 or contact us using our website form.