Banana Moon Clothing Addresses SAP Business One Financial Reporting Challenge

Banana Moon Clothing, the leading personalised clothing retailer, based in West Yorkshire, has utilised SAP’s Business One ERP system for a number of years. Now, the addition of FastClose – an accounting intelligence system – has enabled both management and accounting teams to produce month-end, and other dynamic reports, in real-time without the need for developer-driven SQL scripts.

Alex Grace, CEO of Banana Moon Clothing, explained why they bought FastClose, “SAP is a great ERP system but without good database knowledge it’s difficult to get management reports from. We needed something to generate formatted financial accounts, but SAP has no finance specific report generator.  We have had to rely heavily on Excel and SQL queries, which were not ideal.

“Ochiba, our SAP business partner, introduced us to FastClose and we took it on trial to put it through its paces. FastClose was installed easily, and it unlocked all the GL data as soon as it started up. There are predefined templates that shortcut the process of report building, and we were getting management reports at a balance level, with full drill-down to transactions, very quickly.”

Jill Banks, Banana Moon Clothing’s management accountant, expanded further, “What I liked were all the online videos that were available. With their help, I quickly built our main P&L which used to take us ages to do, and which now runs in minutes. What’s more, once built, it is multi-dimensional which means we can run it for any dimension, or range of dimensions like year, period, accounts, business partner, and so on.

“You can save the reports to user folders and share them with other users who can run them in real-time to get up-to-the-second information.

“We also now want to upload budgeting data, so we can carry out variance analysis just by clicking on a filter. FastClose is so easy to use, and the key – to us – is that there’s no need to have any technical skills.

“From the high-level balances, you can then drill-down to the detail to get at the transactions for analysis and audit purposes.”

Nick Gomersall, FastClose’s CEO, clarified the design of SAP Business One.

“SAP is unusual as it is a transactional ERP system with no balance tables. This meant that we, at FastClose, had to build consolidated starting positions – which we call templates – that accounts departments can then build their reports from.

“FastClose has an in-memory database so rolling up transactions in real-time is not an issue for us. Technically, SAP has a great data model but, needs a tool like FastClose to take advantage of its great design.

“FastClose is an Accounting Intelligence solution which means that we have done all the heavy lifting and have worked out all the key tables and joins; we deliver these as standard templates. All the accountant needs to do, is click and select the relevant filters to retrieve the data they need.”

Alex Grace continued, “After the initial success with our management accounts, we asked FastClose if they could help with our sales analysis. Before FastClose, we had to take our web development team off the front office to build SQL reports as the management team here is not technical; it took everyone’s eye off the ball.

“FastClose built templates for Sales Order Processing, and all our user-defined fields were there to use as we are a size, colour, style business so we had to have several additional columns added to the database. I can now build all the reports that I need to analyse sales, and our techies can focus back on building our web presence.”

Ochiba Business Solutions is one of the UK’s leading SAP business consultancies. Nick Gomersall explained how FastClose and Ochiba became partners. “FastClose has built an impressive user base in the Epicor market, and we wanted to get into the Business One arena, but drew a blank when looking for partners. One, in particular, seemed to be making vast amounts of money building the same reports for all of their customers – they were not right for us! We were not right for them either; they could see that FastClose puts the power back into the hands of the customer. When we came across Ochiba, it was perfect because Ochiba took a different approach.”

Dave Worsman, CEO of Ochiba, explained, “We want to help our customers be self-sufficient as quickly as possible and to concentrate on helping them to get their business processes correct; not billing them every time they need a new report.

“We were introduced to FastClose by SAP and could see this was the product that not only our customers needed, but one which we needed to build all of our management reports internally.”

Nick Gomersall continued, “It was great to see a company like Ochiba take this approach, and we are really pleased to have them as a business partner for SAP. Too many partners are just trying to milk their user base and make them totally dependent on them.

“Ochiba is a breath of fresh air. They have been really helpful in telling us what tables we need for each module, and introducing us to their user base.”

Alex Grace of Banana Moon Clothing picked up on this module development, “FastClose is expanding their modules with AP, AR and Purchasing next, which we intend to take as soon as they have built the templates.

“We use Excel a lot, although we know that Excel can produce issues with data integrity. As well as FastClose’s own GUI, they also have a plugin so we can run live FastClose reports, in real-time, within Excel. This gives us the best of both worlds.

“FastClose is a must for companies running SAP Business One, and I would encourage anyone that runs SAP to take FastClose up on their offer of a free trial to see how effective it is for themselves.”

Russell Finex fixes it with FastClose for Reporting and Month End Close over Epicor’s ERP

 

UK-based software firm FastClose is delighted to announce that Russell Finex, one of the world’s leading sieving and filtration specialists, has installed, and is using, FastClose over their Epicor ERP system.

Russell Finex, a worldwide leader in separation technology established in 1934, and which sells into over 140 countries across the globe, has purchased FastClose for financial reporting, and month end close, for its Epicor ERP system. www.RussellFinex.co.uk/en

Ken Armour, Russell Finex’s Finance Director, explained, “When we first saw Epicor we really liked the chart of accounts design, where you can have normal accounting segments but also the ability to stamp GL transactions with what Epicor calls dynamic segments.”

“However, once we started to implement Epicor, the dynamic element was never used, and we were left with a standard chart of accounts. We could not analyse GL transitions by product and customer, which is what we had planned to do originally.”

“We found out the reason. There was no easy way to report on these additional segments in standard Epicor. Fortunately, IT consultancy Clear Business Outcome introduced us to FastClose and showed us the product, and we could see that FastClose was what we needed to take advantage of these dynamic segments.”

Fabien Viallevieille,  Business Systems Analyst at Russell Finex, expanded further, “We took FastClose on trial, and what I liked from the get-go was all the video tutorials on their website. I was able to build our management reporting pack really quickly.”

“As well as the videos, FastClose also supplied starting templates that enabled us to build reports easily. Previously, we had been using a spreadsheet product that comes with Epicor and, interestingly, FastClose uncovered some missing accounts in a number of our reports. So, we ended up auditing all of our reports using FastClose.”

“We also found that FastClose was very stable. Using our previous spreadsheet tools, we often encountered errors when Windows was upgraded or when we tried to install on different PCs and share spreadsheets. FastClose comes with a database, called a repository, where all the reports can be published and saved.” “When a new accountant wants to run FastClose, we just link them to the repository, and all the reports are available. We are now in the process of replacing our management reports with FastClose.”

“The support we get is impressive as the team at FastClose is very responsive to suggestions and puts enhancements in the product quickly, which I like.”

Nick Gomersall, the CEO of FastClose, said, “Currently, when you buy Epicor, there are technical reporting tools that only people who know SQL – and how to join tables – can use. So each time a report is built, it is only for that customer.”

“FastClose takes all the suggestions from our customers and puts them in the standard product so that everyone benefits. A good example was when Russell Finex built a stock report. Currently, in the ERP database, the movements of stock do not follow the correct debits and credits, so you have to run an Epicor report as of today to get a stock figure.”

“However, with FastClose we can build conditional calculations and get the right sign for movement of stock for each transaction type; it was something that was needed for stock reconciliation and “As Of” reporting. We can now give this to all our customers.”

Fabien Viallevieille added, “The speed of getting data back was also very impressive as well as the drill down to the transactions for audit purposes. FastClose connects directly to the Epicor database, so there is no need to stage the data or run an overnight batch update to another database. It’s truly real-time.”

“We can also monitor the hit on that database as they have an audit option that shows you exactly how long it has used the database. So far, we have not noticed any impact on the server when running Epicor.”

Finally, Ken Armour concluded, “It was great to have FastClose on trial as you can gauge the ROI before you buy. Following our success with FastClose, we have plans to do our management and statutory consolidation with them as well.”

“Recently they brought in the account mapping tables which enables us to restate the chart of accounts from one company to our standard chart. This is great for countries like France and Belgium where you have – by law – to use the government chart of account, the ‘Plan Comptable’.”

“This is a much better feature than with standard Epicor as you don’t have to re-post all the current transactions and history into another book which duplicates everything.

Find out about the hidden secret of Epicor's financial system

 

Ochiba goes live with FastClose for SAP Business One, watch the video to find out more.

 

Aspera brings FastClose Accounting Intelligence to Epicor Customers in Ireland

 

 

FastClose, a provider of multi-dimensional reporting and enquiry tools for companies’ accounts departments, is delighted to announce a business partnership agreement with Aspera – a reseller of Epicor ERP software – to provide FastClose software in Ireland.

Aspera, a Dublin-based reseller of Epicor ERP software, has announced that it has signed an agreement to market and support FastClose in the Irish market. FastClose provides Accounting Intelligence software that is revolutionizing month- and year-end closing for accounts departments.

Lonan Byrne, CEO of Aspera, explains the tie-up: “We have been following FastClose’s progress with interest, and a number of our Epicor customers have purchased it to replace key spreadsheets that make up the monthly reporting pack.

“Accounts departments turn to Excel because they know it, and they haven’t got the time to learn new software. FastClose is different to other reporting tools as it comes preconfigured with templates that can be easily modified and saved to a local reporting folder.

“Significantly, FastClose runs in real-time over the Epicor database and gives the accounts team the capability to drill from high-level P&Ls and Balance Sheets down to the detailed transactions. What’s more, FastClose has developed templates for most of the sub-ledgers like AP, AR, SOP, POP, and inventory – so the drilling does not stop at the GL level.

“FastClose can drill from the GL to any of the sub-ledgers, and you can even drill from the sub-ledgers to the GL, or subledger to subledger, to get at the detail behind any transactions that cause issues at the month end.”

 

Nick Gomersall, CEO of FastClose, expanded on the new partnership: “Aspera helped us in the early days of FastClose as we needed to understand the key tables and joins that people use to build reports, and the drilldown they wanted. We have taken away the complexity of having to build BAQs or SQL queries with technical people, and now offer the accounts department a self-service reporting tool that is easy to use.”

Lonan Byrne offered more on FastClose’s ease of use: “What’s impressive is that FastClose can be installed in less than 15 minutes and then rolled out to the accounts team. So, by the end of the day, you are building reports and drilling down to the key control accounts that need to be reconciled. The ROI is hugely impressive. There is so much functionality; it’s like a Business Intelligence system but without the complication, and it is properly focused on accountants.”

Nick continued on this theme: “We refer to FastClose as an Accounting Intelligence system, which is what accounts departments really need. They are focused on numbers and not graphics – just go around any accounts department and you will see Excel, Excel, and Excel everywhere.

“FastClose has its own user interface that makes it easy to build and share reports. However, we recognise that Excel will never go away, so we have a FastClose plugin that enables customers to run saved FastClose reports – in real-time – directly in Excel with the ability to change variables like account codes, periods, years, books, and more, dynamically.”

Lonan provided more Epicor-specific information: “FastClose in a multi-dimensional reporting tool which means it can take advantage of the 20 account segments in the chart of accounts, multi-books, companies and – in fact – any of the dimensions in Epicor that are used to build management and statutory consolidations. It has a powerful hierarchy engine to mirror your P&Ls and Balance sheets; something you only find in BI systems. The key message is that it’s the accounts team that builds reports… not IT. The empowerment of the accounts team is something that IT and the accounts department both welcome.

Finally, Nick had this to say: “We have built up a good user base and will be adding more modules over time, plus we can share report definitions with other customers in order to build up a best of breed reporting pack. One customer of Aspera and FastClose used to take 8 hours to build a sales margin analysis report in Excel; something which now runs in under two minutes real-time over the live Epicor database.

“The Epicor partner community has seen the benefits of FastClose for their customers, and we are delighted that Aspera has joined the team!”

 

Aspera

Aspera Solutions has over 20 years of experience in implementing and supporting businesses across the Manufacturing, Distribution, Service, and Food & Beverage sectors. The company understands the unique challenges of businesses in an ever-changing landscape and looks to create partnerships and projects that – through vision and experience – lead to just one outcome… success.

Contact Lonan Byrne at +353 (0)1 461 1700

 

www.asperasolutions.com