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.”