United States

NetSuite helps logistics leader enhance general ledger, data and reporting

CASE STUDY  | 

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Overview

Fairrington is the largest full-service printer-independent mailing logistics provider in the United States. Founded in 1981, the company primarily operates in bulk mail distribution. Fairrington is based in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook, Illinois with additional warehouses in Dallas, Texas, and Cranbury, New Jersey.

Background

Fairrington faced significant challenges related to a legacy transportation management system. It included an outdated database platform and lacked necessary indexes and controls. The general ledger (GL) was proprietary to the system, and the primary design was driven by dispatch and truck loading and planning software. The GL was not very dynamic, audit trails were insufficient, and it was not user friendly. The company struggled with data integrity and needed a platform with better access to source information with report writers and a more extensive GL structure.

Reporting was also a challenge, as Fairrington relied on developers to write reports, and pulled data from Excel spreadsheets. The company sought better data mining capabilities and insight, and accounts structure for value streams. Executives wanted to access data quickly and be more hands-on with data without having to call the information technology (IT) department. 

Fairrington has multiple entities that must be consolidated for external reporting purposes, and no consolidated reporting was available in the legacy system. The company required a solution capable of reporting consolidated GAAP financial statements without creating cumbersome offline Excel spreadsheets.

Project

Fairrington chose RSM based on a previous relationship and the known character and experience of the RSM team. After working together to outline Fairrington’s need for a solid financial reporting system that is auditable, easily accessible and provides a clear picture of the business, the system selection process took place. The NetSuite enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform was chosen, based on NetSuite’s broad integration tools, proven strength in financial applications, single database and the ability to drill down and analyze data.  

At first, RSM defined Fairrington’s integration points with NetSuite and the integration rules, going to a granular level to support the drill down details that the company needed. The team identified the accounts payable and receivable elements and transaction sets to feed into the GL.

Understanding Fairrington’s journal transactions within the legacy system was crucial, so the RSM team worked with the company’s technical team and programmers, developing a flow of what triggers and activities create a general transaction that is fed into NetSuite. Once those processes and codes were identified, RSM worked closely with Fairrington’s finance and accounting department to fully understand how transactions occur to collect data and pass the proper general transactions into NetSuite.

The RSM team defined roles, documented the process of how data is passed from the legacy system to NetSuite, and determined which customer and vendor records should reside in NetSuite. RSM identified the different codes and locations, especially for Fairrington’s value streams, as the company required classification for these transactions. Next, the team set up roles and developed code for the roles before running test transactions.

Due to some of the complex integrations, RSM built in a significant testing period to ensure project success. The team evaluated a month of transaction activity on a daily basis with different scenarios to see how the GL was impacted in NetSuite. It was an essential project to account for errors and ensure everything was mapped correctly.

An error log was created, broken up into six different types of errors, capturing areas to troubleshoot when scenarios were performed. The log is a significant value add for Fairrington, as millions of records are monitored, and source code mapping errors can be efficiently identified and corrected so transactions are accurately reflected in NetSuite. 

“By partnering with RSM, they brought other resources that were important from a SQL perspective to improve our data integrity,” commented Fairrington Chief Financial Officer Mark Nickel. “This implementation would not have been successful without all of the time and effort that RSM put in to help develop the error log and get down to where we barely have any errors.”

The most important facet of the NetSuite implementation for Fairrington was creating a more dynamic GL accounts structure for company value streams and the capability to integrate large volumes of detailed records from the legacy system. Through the integrations, RSM implemented a GL account structure within NetSuite to develop a hierarchy from a data mining perspective, creating multiple levels for data analysis and reporting. That level of value stream reporting was not possible through Fairrington’s legacy system. The company also feels a level of comfort that the source data is complete and accurately presented, as Fairrington has multiple entities that now can be consolidated via NetSuite’s elimination company.

RSM took advantage of NetSuite’s scalability to help ensure the platform will fit Fairrington’s future needs. Even though Fairrington is not currently using NetSuite for billing, RSM set the platform up so any future billing systems can direct to the GL. With the order level detail and structure, Fairrington will not need to reimplement the GL if it changes its billing system.

In addition, the RSM team and Fairrington programmers developed import templates to pull relevant financial data into NetSuite if the company changes its production system or needs to expand or extend it. A redesign of the NetSuite system will not be necessary, as guides document what is required to support Fairrington’s financial reporting.

RSM has provided hands-on knowledge mainly through the train-the-trainer approach. Ensuring that trainers are well equipped to both fulfill their work responsibilities as well as train and coach new hires in using NetSuite has proven to be a success from a cost standpoint (minimal external consulting expenditures) and enabling individuals to be self-sufficient in their roles.

“The training and support from RSM has been outstanding,” said Nickel. “Technology has actually been a challenging area for us at times, so this was a beneficial experience for everyone involved.”

Outcomes

The collaborative effort between RSM and Fairrington to implement NetSuite helped the company improve the visibility, quality and speed of its business information. The NetSuite system is much more intuitive and user-friendly than the company’s legacy system, improving productivity and eliminating reliance on IT. The platform increased GL capabilities and included an accounts structure that provided deeper insight into value streams, helping Fairrington make better business decisions.  

The benefits to Fairrington included:

  • An expedited close process of 3-5 days, instead of 10 days with the previous system
  • Speed and access to real-time financial information from anywhere
  • Increased data integrity with a comprehensive error log
  • A self-sufficient user experience with absolutely no reliance on IT
  • An ERP platform that meets current goals, but is also scalable for future needs

They said it

"RSM provides more than just a commitment of qualified technical professionals; it’s also the people that you can trust, and you enjoy working with. They deliver on their promises because they are committed and take ownership to make sure each implementation is a success.” -Mark Nickel, Chief Financial Officer, Fairrington

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