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Part III: ERP System Integration for a Purchasing Card Program

July 27, 2011 Finance

You’ve made the decision to implement a Purchasing Card Program at your business and just completed the last phase of pilot testing in small-scale production mode.

Now what?

One of the most effective ways for companies to get their card program up and running quickly out of test mode is to integrate their existing ERP system (i.e. SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft) with the card provider’s platform so that the systems can communicate electronically. 

Below is the “Who” and “Why” for companies that may not know if they are ready for a fully integrated process:

  • Are current work flows burdened by heavy manual intervention?
  • Is your company’s card transaction volume reaching new levels and now high enough to justify an automated process?
  • Is your company culture one that supports automation and process change?
  • Does your company’s current card provider already use a web-based reconciliation platform? (The benefits of using a provider that does, including streamlined operations and resource realignment can be seen here.)

And perhaps most importantly,

  • Does your company have access to IT resources in order to support new system integration?

Readily available IT support is crucial for companies interested in pursuing ERP system integration.  This team will know how to handle custom mapping requests from the system provider, they can provide technical specifications to the provider for data extract files, as well as put custom processes and business intelligence in place for needs such as minimizing “exception items” during data uploads to the financial (general ledger) system.

IT support can also help provide enhancements to data visibility for reporting and spend management.

For example, Fahrenheit Finance is currently working with a leading foodservice distributor who recently achieved successful integration across multiple ERP systems.  With this company’s strong IT support, it has been able to customize the interface files to allow a text description field to accompany each card transaction within the data file.  This text field may include detail such as cardholder name, supplier name, and products/services purchased.

This custom enhancement eliminates the need for further drill down into separate databases by providing an immediate overview of how a cardholder is spending company money, and where the expenses are being allocated.

To find out more on ERP system implementation or to inquire about implementing a Purchasing Card Program within your company, contact JoAnn Vernacchia, CPA, CPCP at jvernacchia@fahrenheitfinance.com or at 804-955-4440.

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