I Love My ERP, I Love My ERP NOT!
“I love you, I love you not. I love you, I love you not. I love you, I love you not.” Jon came home to his daughter playing with daisies in the backyard the day before Valentine’s Day. She was giggling out these words as she yanked petal after petal from the flowers.
“Sweetheart, don’t pull out the petals from the flowers,” he gently said to her.
She looked up at him and said, “But that’s the only way I can get an answer from the flower. When I pull all the petals out, I’ll really know if he loves me.”
Jon was momentarily stunned. He realized that his young daughter was explaining his company’s way of getting information out of their system. He had to pluck and pinch everyone simply to get information. The hardest from whom to get a straight answer was his Accounts Receivable group. They hemmed and hawed every time he asked who was Current.
He was always just barely meeting his cash flow needs. He could not tell if his best customers loved his company since they paid so slowly. Yet they praised his salespeople all the time. He was pulling his hair out over this!
Every day, the company was shipping out orders to customers who owed him millions of dollars. Did they love his products but were testing his love by delaying the payments?
How could he know if his customers really loved his company? He used to think that love meant paying on time.
The company tried to make paying quickly seductive by offering 2% off the invoice if it was paid within 10 days. But the customers took the 2% --- and still took 60 days to pay, some even 90 days.
Although Jon’s Accounting Manager always had a zinger comment at the ready, Jon liked her. Every day, he would say, “How’s it going?” and she’d reply, “What’s it to you?” It made him laugh as he enjoyed what he thought was loving camaraderie and good cheer.
Yet on the day he asked her about the 2%, she made a face and said, “Look, it’s too hard to figure out the dates for the discount for each invoice, so we just let it go.” She expanded that the accounting system did not have a feature to calculate the discount and dates of eligibility, so they had to do this on spreadsheets. She looked straight at him and said, “I don’t think it’s worth our time.”
Jon sat back in amazement. How could she say that?
With sales over $50M, 2% was a cool $1M every year. That could be going right to his bottom line. Instead, it was a gift to the customers with absolutely nothing given in exchange.
That was the end. Jon no longer felt the love for his Accounting Manager. It was time to pull off this petal. He would have to find a new love in the company.
So, Jon began the long process of looking for an action-oriented CFO, knowing that it would be great for his growing company. If a new CFO could just get the Accounting Manager excited about the Receivables, then the added expense for the CFO would have an immediate ROI in cash collection alone!
Jon interviewed CFO candidates for months. One after one just seemed wrong. He was exhausted. Over 100 resumes scanned, 40 calls, 20 meetings, and 5 second-meetings. Each one good in some areas and terrible in other areas. They would say they were good in accounting but no experience with systems. Or they knew one system well but didn’t know how to implement it on their own. Or knew how to talk to the banks but not how to manage the day-to-day.
Jon began to wonder if, maybe, finding the right person wouldn't be enough. Perhaps there was something else missing, something that would create the magic brew. “What is it?” Jon cried out despairingly. "What am I missing?"
On February 14th he felt that love was in the air.
One of the candidates, Valentina, seemed qualified. She was a CPA with years of experience. Jon's heart warmed when she asked about their Accounts Receivable situation. She might be just the right tonic to motivate the Accounting Manager to become proactive about keeping customers current.
But the remark she made that made Jon sit up and really take notice was with regard to his ERP system. Valentina wanted to know what system the company was using, its features, and age. Jon felt embarrassed when he had to admit that they were running on a 16-year-old system. It was so old the software company was no longer supporting it.
Valentina's eyebrows shot up into the air with a look of ‘Aha!' She began to take charge of the interview. She clearly understood accounting, cash flow, and systems. She appeared to understand the urgency of the situation. But if she were to be hired, she said, she'd want a mandate to evaluate and select a new ERP system.
Jon was stunned. Wouldn't that be too much for his laid-back company? On the other hand, if she could get the 2% discounts under control, this might change how much cash would actually be collected. That, alone, would pay for her and a new ERP system.
Into Jon’s mind drifted the sound of his daughter chanting the daisy love song.
“Maybe I should hire Valentina. She might not love me, but she sure does love systems.”
Jon stood up and said to himself, with a big smile on his face, “I think I’m in love!”
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