March CFO Roundtable: “Planning, Practicality, and Pitfalls On ERP Upgrades and Implementations”

We hosted two lively and productive CFO Roundtable sessions last week in Menlo Park (at Morgan Stanley) and San Francisco (at CBRE), focused on upgrading ERP systems. The events were well-attended by heads of finance representing a great mix of early stage and middle market companies from a wide variety of industries, who came to share their perspectives and learn from their peers.

Takeaways from the sessions:

Trigger points for upgrading from Quickbooks to NetSuite ran the gamut.

  • Company growth – multiple entities, product launches, multi-currency
  • Hiring an audit firm
  • Inventory Management
  • Investor reporting requirements
  • Board Member’s request

 Convincing your CEO to invest in a more robust ERP

  • Helping the CEO see the value of the accounting/finance function
  • Investing early will prevent higher costs vs. converting when the company is larger
  • Scalability

Pitfalls to avoid when implementing a new ERP system

  • Appoint a project manager within your company as implementation lead/primary point of contact to work with the vendor
  • Consider both current and future state of the company and develop a long-term strategy when looking at business requirements and system functionality and overall capabilities
  • Revenue recognition capabilities – does it support ASC 606, commissions, etc…

Upgraded to an ERP system but not using its full functionality

Reasons included:

  • No training/insufficient training
  • Only got through Phase I
  • Implemented by predecessor

Ways to address:

  • Performing an optimization review
  • Provide training for current team
  • Review work flows and user profiles
  • Integrate with software currently being used or look at ways to automate with the system

Options to consider if you aren’t ready for a more robust ERP system

  • Accounting structure is straightforward – i.e. single entity, inventory management is not an issue
  • NetSuite BPO or similar programs

We also had a great discussion on alternative software solutions to automate and simplify your process:

  • Zuora – Accounts Receivable Solution (i.e. global payments, subscriptions, analytics)
  • Intaact – Core Financials and Reporting (cost effective for non-inventory products)
  • Blackline – Reconciliation
  • Xactly – Sales Commission
  • Workato – Workflows, Integration and Automation.


The event was hosted by: Jan Berthold/Heffernan Insurance, Kelly Borland/Deloitte, Christina Bui/Kranz & Associates, Steve Lee/CBRE, and Garry Whitfield/Morgan Stanley, and our subject matter expert, Anna Matveeva/Kranz & Associates.