Magazine article Business Credit

Can Credit Be High-Tech without ERP?

Magazine article Business Credit

Can Credit Be High-Tech without ERP?

Article excerpt

According to recent reports, the burgeoning growth in enterprise software that integrates and coordinates all the business functions of a corporation is picking up steam. Worldwide sales of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, including maintenance and training, was estimated at nearly $11 billion in 1997 by AMR Research of Boston. They also anticipate that sales will surpass $25 billion in the year 2000.

ERP is hot. In a front-page article in its Money and Business section on November 8, 1998, The New York Times reported that "nearly every sizable manufacturer in the United States and Europe either has ERP, is getting it or is considering getting it soon." Fortune says ERP has become "indispensable to deep-pocketed corporations, which seem not to mind that the stuff is so complex, teams of consultants are required to install and maintain it.(*)"

What does this mean for companies that do not and are not planning to implement ERP? Are their credit departments destined to be shut out of "best-of-class" consideration? Of course not. Credit departments can achieve state-of-the-art technology without a corporate-wide program. Today there are software packages designed specifically for credit functions alone, as well as financial software packages that integrate credit with other financial and accounting functions.

This article will focus on one available package of financial software - QSP Financials - to illustrate high-tech options with credit functionality that do not require ERP installations. There are several other companies that provide similar products. Some examples are: ChiCor Information Management, Inc., GET PAID Software, A-STAR and NMC Technologies.

About QSP

QSP Financial Information Systems began in the United Kingdom and has established offices in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Its U.S. headquarters are in Raleigh, NC. Its main products are QSP Financials, an integrated software suite with modules for a range of financial operations, and two different deployment packages. One is a customized, fixed-fee implementation, and the other is an accelerated implementation that uses pre-set databases and workshop training.

In 1981, when QSP was founded, "almost no one offered online, real-time functionality," says Richard Green, vice president for technical and product solutions for the United States. QSP's first module was an online, real-time accounts receivable (A/R) package. Additional financial functions were added until the group of modules grew to the current financial software suite, which includes: general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, credit management, purchase management, sales invoicing, commitment accounting, project tracking and fixed assets.

Specialized versus Enterprisewide

The main difference between a financial software package and ERP is pretty obvious: ERP programs are designed for all aspects of a corporation's business while financial programs focus only on financial information. This does not mean that they are simple or that they are painless to implement.

Obviously, the bigger the package and the more applications used, the greater the complexity. And the greater the complexity, the more involved and longer the implementation will be. Implementation for QSP Financials, for example, can take six months. For ERP systems, it can take more than a year. Many integrated software systems, such as SAP's R/3 and QSP Financials, now offer an alternative "fast" implementation format in addition to the standard implementation package.

That said, a quick check would also show similarities in the broad outlines of the QSP and ERP products:

* Both require an analysis of the underlying business processes prior to installation.

* Implementation of the software is not a part of the software package. Implementation and training are separate packages.

* Both require a significant financial investment by the corporation. …

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