The focus of a modern CFO is streamlining financial processes with operations. Digital transformation is more relevant than ever and CFOs are taking the business ecosystem from tried-and-true back-office operations through the customer experience thanks to cloud-based ERP systems that provide real-time, data-enabled decisions support at the click of a button.

A 2017 survey conducted by PwC found that Growth Strategy was among the top concerns for CFOs — a trend that will remain into 2021. CFOs know that now is the time to implement an ERP system, but many struggle to know what to look for. Here are some key insights to consider:

Auditability

A modern ERP system should fully support a business, and that means ensuring the platform provides auditability. All companies need to be able to audit financial transactions, but public companies or those that seek outside funding, require it. Make sure that an ERP system can:

  • Provide an audit trail for every transaction
  • Drill down into each transaction with granular detail
  • Make performing an audit easy

Security

Important company information and data is stored in the ERP system, so security is of primary concern. It is important to safeguard the company’s inner workings and client/customer information, from both internal and external threats. There are a few things to consider:

  • The system should allow for assigning access privileges by user and role
  • The software will include the opportunity to automate approval processes
  • There are safeguards against hackers
  • Unauthorized access attempts alert system managers

Reporting

Extracting important information from the ERP system is one of the most important functions, and a system should work with other software systems to combine data — this benefits not only the financial team, but other employees, as well as investors, auditors, etc. Make sure the ERP system includes/allows:

  • Dashboards to display key information for the specific user
  • Make sure the dashboards can be modified as needed
  • Both ERP and non-ERP information and data should be able to be included in the dashboards
  • Integrations are available
  • Reports should come standard with the system
  • Modification of reports is easy
  • It it easy to create new reports
  • Information should be accessible
  • Data queries can be used in dashboards and reports
  • Queries can be exported to Excel files
  • Pivot tables are available
  • Real-time data is deliverable 24/7

Sandbox Mode?

A “sandbox” is a test environment that mirrors the system. This is especially handy to trial upgrades before putting them into production or for developing new customizations before pushing them to the live environment. This is standard with outdated on-premise systems, but not always available with cloud-based systems. Be sure to ask vendors:

  • If the system offers sandbox access
  • If there is an additional charge

Storage and Backup

Not all cloud ERP systems give users the ability to create and restore data backups or to import live data to a test system. Additionally, some vendors don’t provide users with the option of when systems will back up. Find out:

  • If the ERP vendor automatically backs up data
  • If the company can back up data on its own
  • Is the backup in the form of a true relational database
  • How easy is it to move data to a different ERP
  • How migrating to another ERP would work

Ease of Use

Make sure the ERP system is easy for employees to learn; if a system is too difficult many staff members will revert to old methods, such as using spreadsheets or performing manual entry. An ERP system should:

  • Be easy to learn
  • Offer customization for the user
  • Feature thorough online documentation
  • Offer user training, ideally included in the software purchase

Customization

Systems are different, but few cloud-based ERPs will do everything that is needed out-of-the-box. A certain degree of modification is typically required to make the software work for a specific company in a particular industry; however, some modifications are simple, yet others can be complex and require technical help writing application programming interfaces (APIs). Look for:

  • A system that can be customized to fit the way a company operates
  • Graphical tools that allow updates that don’t require rewriting a program
  • What in the system can be customized
  • How difficult is it to customize tools and what’s needed
  • What kind of user training is available
  • Is training included in the purchase price

Extendibility

Most ERP systems are built modularly, offering a base financial product that can be added onto to extend the functionality — businesses differ, as do industries, so it’s important a system can be tweaked to meet unique needs. These are the questions to ask:

  • Features of the base product
  • Modules that can be added
  • What third-party software tools can be implemented

Learn more in Acumatica’s Modern CFO ERP Buyer’s Guide!

Getting Started

A cloud-based ERP system can innovate a business, driving growth and profitability. Contact us to gain actionable insights or receive a free software consultation!