We found ourselves in a ‘rapid growth’ stage, having been listed on the INC 5000 for the sixth year in a row, and the need for better analytics and reporting was recommended (this is putting it mildly) by nearly every member of our accounting team and operational managers, including the lead PMs from various lines of business. While GCS was a tool great for us for a time, after 10+ years with the same static architecture against the backdrop of a rapidly growing business limitations started to become glaringly obvious.
For example, the limitation on the number of indirect pools for a given business unit proved to be particularly challenging for us. So we donned our process re-engineering hats and developed a systemic work-around for creating multiple divisions in GCS, even though they were part of one given business unit, and then re-combined them using the OBS structures. That work around wasn’t very elegant and increased the need for careful review just to make sure the results were correct before analysis could even begin.
We experienced other growth pains too. While our overall business was doing well, we couldn’t quickly track how different lines of business were performing. In short, the limitations resulted in a decreased visibility into how the individual parts of our business were performing which negatively influenced the speed by which we could make impactful, informed business decisions.
In 2014, we started decided to take the plunge and begin our own migration from GCS to Costpoint. For many companies, moving from GCS to Costpoint requires very little change to their accounting structure. Keeping things simple is often the way to go. But Neo Systems had become a multifaceted Company with multiple lines of business operating in different industry verticals and we needed a system that would afford insight into how efficiently each line of business was performing within its vertical. To achieve this transparency, we couldn’t simply stay with the simple structures that GCS offers. We truly needed to take advantage of the smart logic one can embed in the three dimensional tagging of costs and revenues to accounts, projects and organizations. While this required us to make an upfront investment in time and resources, , the resulting design allowed us to view our business in multiple ways and develop metrics for immediate consumption. This new design allowed us to scale our business as it continues to expand into new geographies, with new products and new services. In short, it allows us to grow.
In all, during the implementation, most of the pains we experienced were related to an inadequate dedication of internal resources to the implementation, conversion and integration. If I could change any part of our experience, it would be this. While implementation and integration activities go on, normal day-to-day business activities must still occur. Providing enough internal resources to make sure that all day-to-day activities can continue to be addressed while also providing attention to the additional work that is required to set up, populate and test the new system is critical. In hindsight, I would have dedicated more internal resources to the effort rather than asking our accounting staff to carry the burden of both efforts. That mistake cost of valuable time that extended and complicated the go-live date.
Even though I placed a great burden on our staff, on Jan 1, 2015, our Costpoint migration went live! I’m happy to say that our accounting staff has done an excellent job learning the new platform and was quickly able to understand the baseline concepts between the two systems.
For those thinking of making the jump, learning the new system wasn’t as difficult as one might imagine, especially if you are already familiar with the GCS application. Although different platforms, a number of the concepts will be familiar to the user. With new dash boards and web-based reporting, we have realized the added value of the investment of our time and money. Ad hoc analysis that had been initially difficult at best with GCS, is now a staple of out of the box reporting with Costpoint CER. When additional analysis or specific reporting is needed, Costpoint’s powerful, three dimensional relational database lends itself to a much richer reporting capability using the IBM Cognos BI tool. , Analysis is now limited only by the design of the data structures that one builds into Costpoint via its 3-dimensional, multi-faceted data elements. With that in place, reporting is virtually unlimited.
With the benefit of this experience behind us, we now set off on a journey to convert many of our clients from the GCS application to the Costpoint platform so that they, too, can achieve the same benefits. We have one thing in common with every single client that we have….we all want to grow, and we need the best tools, and the best people, on the market to enable that growth. At Neo Systems, we are excited to bring this technology to our clients because we know, first hand, the impact it can have on the business.