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Drive value and growth through enterprise resource planning

From disparate financial systems to profitable growth

INSIGHT ARTICLE  | 

If you’ve been in the private equity space, you’ve likely seen this scenario. A privately held investment holding company has acquired three companies in related businesses, each of which was using its own QuickBooks database, along with proprietary operational systems and Excel spreadsheets. As one would expect, monthly or quarterly financial reporting was a nightmare; there was an inability to efficiently roll up data as part of an overall system function. Reporting was done manually, which resulted in a continued lack of visibility to management and was often subject to burdensome errors. This inefficient process continued to be ripe for business risk for the holding company and its portfolio businesses and guaranteed stalled growth.

Sound familiar? Private equity firms struggle with this scenario frequently, as they work to effectively manage their diverse portfolio businesses with their antiquated and clunky legacy systems. How can they pull these often competing financial processes together into a harmonious system that drives value? Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a strategy some firms are using to consolidate and automate their processes and initiate profitable growth. What’s the first step to herd these disparate systems into ERP efficiency?

Assessment is key

To address this system challenge, private equity firms should first take a step back to initially understand their own system landscape and those of their businesses. In this assessment, some foundational questions should be weighed, including:

  • What are the unique issues to consider within my businesses’ industry?
  • What are the specific challenges and dynamics to consider in my portfolio businesses?
  • What are my firm’s growth goals for the businesses?
  • What are the existing financial systems currently in place?
  • Who is involved, and what is their role?

Following this inquiry and assessment, and carefully considering current and future needs, it’s then time to look at various ERP systems that could align with business objectives and cost criteria. And after that, a further fit analysis can be completed to narrow down appropriate ERP solutions. Timing can vary through this entire process, depending on scale and needs; however, next-step recommendations after an initial assessment can be made in a matter of weeks, while larger implementation efforts of multiunit, multinational projects can take well over a year to launch and tweak. Each case is different, but one thing is certain. The assessment step needs to take place. For those firms who jump past this critical phase and go straight to the fit and configuration stages to speed up implementation, that haste restricts the potential value an ERP can bring. As the adage goes, you must know where you came from to know where you’re going. A thorough assessment can get you there. And, a fully optimized ERP strategy could deliver the following:

  • Increased flexibility and remote access through a cloud-based system
  • Managed complex assets on a single platform, allowing staff to do more work with less effort
  • Reduced risk with capabilities to review the financial health of the organization on a daily basis
  • Expanded access to higher-quality, more timely information to make quicker, more informed, investment-related decisions
  • Improved speed of financial reporting
  • Measured EBITDA

Related Resources

CASE STUDY

Lakeside Capital boosts visibility, agility and efficiency with NetSuite

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ERP optimization best practices: Meeting your competitive challenges

To help ensure your ERP system delivers its projected value, it must be optimized and configured to meet evolving business needs and support growth.

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