Letters – Integration is the key.

I write in response to Dennis Howlett’s article (To buy or not to buy…, page 23, 18 October). Downturn, bleak outlook and recession – although these words dominate today’s economic climate, many still consider purchasing financial software. In fact, financial software is essential to those many companies that are feeling the pinch.

But financial software is not going to cure all ills – while IT departments may be asked to cut costs to seek out quick infrastructure fixes, a company board needs to sit down and find a financial solution that is going to act as a crystal ball and give a clear indication of what the company will be facing in the future. Easier said than done though.

The key considerations are scalability, collaboration and effectiveness.

In a very fast-moving world companies need to consider how to involve the entire company to deliver a consistent, business-wide view of current and future operating performance. Only this can add real value.

Each pound spent on developing understanding and predictability of future performance is worth more than a pound spent analysing past performance.

Getting the FD/accountant to talk to IT buyers and assess the integration of financial solutions with other operations such as CRN and HR will prove to be far more advantageous than simply allowing IT staff to make their decisions in isolation.

I do, however, disagree with Howlett when he assumes that a one-stop shop will guarantee integration. The companies involved in recent mergers and acquisition activities would like us to believe that a fully integrated vendor is better placed to provide a fully integrated solution.

But if you look at it from a commercial perspective, independent, best of breed vendors with healthy track records will have probably already demonstrated greater levels of integration.

They simply could not have survived in the cut-throat IT world without being able to integrate with most of the major accounting, legacy, ERP and other systems.

Having worked in the financial software sector for over 20 years, I would advise seeking out best practice and looking outwards when making a purchasing decision.

If companies focus on themselves, they may be content with only incremental changes and improvements to existing processes.

Let process redesign drive software selection and not vice versa.

Mark Simpson, Adaytum

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