The company had, for a number of years, been operating a finance system based on SAP, a system that had been imposed on them by a former parent company.
Purchasing, on the other hand, was managed by a combination of disparate systems and much of it was paper-based.
"We were using SAP, a system imposed on us by a former parent company. It was a poor fit for our line of business as the costs were too onerous to consider changing the functionality to keep up with our business requirements. Our version of SAP had also reached the point where it needed a very expensive upgrade, so we took the opportunity to go back to market to get a more suitable package."
"Purchasing really was a paper-chase. When invoices came in, many of them would go to our Facilities department where there was a painful manual process to match these to purchase orders and ensure proper coding. Though the number one objective of the project was to replace SAP, it was recognised that we needed a purchasing solution and one that was fully integrated with the Finance system."
The selection of a new finance system was a structured process involving a formal Request for Information (RFI). Written responses to that document enabled Swinton to select a shortlist of potential suppliers to give presentations.
The selection of preferred supplier was conducted by a team that included both Finance and prospective users of the new purchasing system. Everyone involved in the selection was provided with a questionnaire asking them to rate relevant aspects of the solutions presented to them. To assist suppliers, it was requested that presentations focus on scenarios provided by the project team.
Reflecting on the selection process, three factors stand out: Proactis, SunSystems Vision and LAKE as a supplier.
"It was Proactis that made the biggest difference in the selection process. Look and feel was a big factor, but also important was the quality of its solution for commitment accounting, its interaction with SunSystems, and the fact that it could be rolled out easily across a wide area network. We have a large branch network spread around the UK. So we were looking for a system that, potentially, we could put into each of the branches...
.. From a pure Finance point of view, SunSystems Vision has been very well received. Vision has saved a lot of time, particularly with monthly Journal postings, Ad-hoc cheque requests and Expenses. Vision excel templates are used widely and have speeded up the input time considerably."
Selecting a new system is as much about choosing the most appropriate partner as it is about selecting new software.
"The choice of LAKE was a big factor in our system selection. They were people we thought we could work very well with. We had confidence in them."
"LAKE were very understanding of our needs. They demonstrated the features we wanted to see much more clearly than the other suppliers. On reflection, a couple of the suppliers were more inclined to turn up and simply show their software rather than show us the things we had asked to see."
Reflecting on the quality of service provided by LAKE during the implementation project and subsequently, Swinton make the following observations:
"Brilliant! On time, on budget. I really can't say fairer than that. It felt safe. It felt like LAKE had done this a lot of times before; that they had done it with similar people; and would tell us how it would work best, and why."
"Post implementation, I have been really happy with the support. Before the project started we were talking about the importance of a service level agreement and how quickly things would get fixed. And to be honest I have never needed to look at them."
"I have found LAKE very flexible in their approach to how we work. They are very knowledgeable in terms of the product and we have a very good working relationship with them."
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