Case Study – Why Acurus Chose SAP Business ByDesign (ByD)

Like other far-sighted small businesses, Acurus knew it needed the support of a bona fide ERP system before reaching the tipping point of exponential growth. A successful and growing Melbourne-based IT Services company dealing in consulting and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions, Acurus had plans to move from 50 to potentially 200 or 300 staff over a two- to three-year period. Acurus CFO, Tony Grooby, undertook the charter to implement and improve their internal systems quickly whilst they were still relatively small, as he knew it would be much harder to put those processes and systems in place if the company was growing by 200% per year.

Tony and I sat down recently to discuss Acurus’ journey to find the cloud ERP solution and partner that worked best for their business. Tony began by explaining that of premier importance was to select a platform with a solid road map and product investment going forward, ideally from a company with a strong history of building ERP systems. As a professional services company, Acurus required a solution that could support a high volume of project work, time-sheeting, and management of their products and services suite. There were also complexities from legacy systems to be dealt with – a ticketing system, booking system, product quotation and Xero for financials, plus a number of small discrete applications that Acurus wanted to bring together.

Acurus also wanted a true cloud ERP system. For a professional services firm, the value proposition of using a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) ERP system meant that across a relatively small team of 20 consultants, even a 1% improvement would more than pay for the ongoing costs.

Netsuite was the first product considered. Tony explained it was originally almost the default choice as one of the Acurus directors had used it before, and considered it to be an excellent product. Tony’s team duly put NetSuite through its paces and found it to be good overall, but lacking on the project side and in the sophistication of its financials. Also, it quickly became apparent that products may announce themselves as “cloud-based”, but are not necessarily true, integrated, cloud-architected products.

Acurus then considered Financial Force, which sits on the top of the SalesForce platform. The company is a heavy user of the Microsoft product set, so Microsoft Dynamics was also tested out. However, when analysed, it wasn’t the true end-to end ERP cloud solution that Acurus were looking for. Rounding out his due diligence, Tony visited the SAP website to find a white paper on any cloud ERP offerings they might have. He told me that he had left SAP to last as he assumed that it would be too big and too expensive. This assumption came as a result of working at KPMG for many years and having had previous experience of SAP implementations with them. To Tony’s surprise, he found SAP’s Business ByDesign. After speaking with SAP to further vet the product, he discovered that it matched all of Acurus’ requirements. ByDesign was cost competitive, and a full end-to-end, cloud ERP platform.

With Financial Force unable to provide resourcing, and Microsoft Dynamics not being a true cloud-based solution, the choice came down to Netsuite or Business ByDesign. After more rigorous testing, it became clear after one or two demonstrations that ByDesign’s functionality was definitely comparable and in many areas more comprehensive that of Netsuite. The final selection committee was comprised of representatives from Finance and Project teams, the Operations Manager and the directors of the company. They chose Business ByDesign for its more impressive financial capabilities, and superior integration to its project management components.

When it came to selecting the right implementation partner for ByDesign, Tony explained that it was important to find a partner who used ByDesign internally, and had practical experience with how the system works in reality, rather than a partner who only knew how it worked in theory. Additionally, Acurus wanted a partner that did not just design, build, and test the system in isolation from them. They wanted to be proactively involved through the process of understanding the product whilst it was being designed and implemented. They approached the project as a business transformation, a chance to review and optimise their processes.

Acurus found the right partner fit with Acclimation. Acclimation has been using ByDesign for four years end-to-end in their own business. Their implementation philosophy and methodology is built on customer enablement and familiarisation with ByDesign from the get-go. Their goal is to ensure that ByDesign becomes part of the customer’s business process DNA. Most importantly, Acclimation recognise that installing a cloud-based all-in-one ERP package is completely different from installing an on-premise, customised ERP system. Hence they work with the customer as a business partner and enabler, rather than simply as consultants who configure a system without thought as to how that will affect the business.

“Acclimation was able to identify against every one of our requirement against ByDesign… That gives confidence.”

Acurus went live with ByDesign after only 12 weeks. The live system replaced finance, HR, project management, time-sheeting, and sales quotation. The ByDesign package contains end-to-end ERP, and the customer is able to use as much or as little as they choose. Over the next three months, Acurus will uncover and integrate pipeline, the opportunity management system, and resource management. When that happens, their processes will be fully integrated from lead to project sign-off.

One Finance Module feature that Tony finds extremely useful is the visual presentation of transactions tracing all the way back to when a lead was brought in. ByDesign does this via document tiles, and in this view, nothing can be hidden. Other standout features include support of multi-currency and multi-company, and a project section very similar to Microsoft project. Additionally, there is huge flexibility in the cost allocation and project management areas.

Another key area for Acurus is reporting. ByDesign reports provide real-time updates and reflect what is going within the business at any given moment. This leads to faster decision making, which for example can pre-emptively detect when a project will end up going over budget. SAP ByDesign helps to find a balance in creating a projects – it helps to avoid confusion by creating well-structured projects which are linked with all the other processes in the company.

After reflecting on his experience in the ByDesign journey, Tony had the following advice to give to others searching for an ERP solution. He firmly believes that the change process should involve the whole company. Firstly, leadership needs to embrace the value of an integrated, end-to end solution. This is important as they will guide their staff to embrace this value as well. As it is difficult for one person to see how the whole business works together, people from different areas within the company must be involved. Finally, the partner must be an enabler, and approach the project as a business transformation. This is vital for a successful cloud ERP implementation, but more importantly, for ensuring that the business processes and the system are both optimised and the users of the system are its ultimate owners.

See the complete interview below: