Today’s interviewee is Peter Valbonesi, Project Manager for the BC Teacher’s Federation (BCTF). Not long ago, BCTF replaced their 14 year old legacy ERP solution with Serenic Navigator, a solution built on Dynamics NAV.
I had the opportunity to ask Peter for some insights on how they measure ERP success and lessons learned along the way. For any business trying to navigate critical success factors, there is always room to benefit from those who have been through it!
Q: What motivated your decision to adopt a new ERP system?
BCTF was operating a 14 year old financial application which, for both technical and business reasons, had reached the end of its life. It wasn’t supported anymore and it didn’t provide very much functionality in many core areas. For example, there wasn’t any functionality in receivables at all.
From a technical viewpoint, it also wasn’t supported on the platforms that we are moving to quite rapidly like Windows 2008r2 and SQL server 2012.
Also, the standard core financial world — everything from electronic funds transfer, fast clearing, eCommerce, and reconciliations online — had moved on, but our ERP hadn’t, so we needed to get up to speed. The systems around our accounting system, such as our CRM and eCommerce, had also progressed and we weren’t able to interface with our ERP system, even though we wanted to.
Q: What were the factors that contributed to your ERP implementation success?
I think something that gets lost in most projects is training but it really is critical for developing higher trust and involvement in the system. I probably put on about 30-40 training courses for the staff. In addition, we also built out step-by-step guides and training manuals like “Navigator 101,” “Accounts Receivable,” “Cash Deposits” and so on. These have really, really helped with both satisfaction and adoption.
In the previous system, there was tremendous resistance to change. Now, I’m getting truly intelligent questions from our staff that demonstrate they comprehend the system and are navigating it effectively.
I should stress, too, that the final decisions were made by our accountants, not IT. IT tends to provide more of the structure and the framework but when it comes down to the actual content, it’s always best to have the accountants in the driver’s seat.
Q: Tell me about post-Go Live life. What has success looked like?
- User satisfaction – Things are moving a lot more smoothly and there seems to be a higher level of involvement and engagement with our accounting staff. People’s jobs are enhanced, not held back, with this system.
- Efficiency gains – If you look at the flow of work and ease of use, there has definitely been an improvement. Certainly, we have been able to switch on features that are net new, like our CRM interface, for example.
- System maximization – We have rolled out the solution to a lot more people than were using the previous system (and not just accounting staff!) We’ve got about 20 users now, as opposed to the 8 we had previously and they’re all happy with the fact that they’re now connected to this much wider network.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have involved the staff earlier on in the process in order to effectively communicate our objectives.
Q: What’s next?
We’re going to be focusing on two key enhancements — automation of intercompany fund transfers and developing an online travel and expense system.
In addition, I want to be able to start pushing out our ERP data to other systems. Up until now, it’s essentially just been pulling data in. Now, our ERP system is acting exactly like the hub of operations we wanted it to be. We can continue to build on that.
Great tips. Thanks Peter!
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