London based firm Operis is a leading advisor in project finance, renowned for its expertise in financial modelling. Since its start in 1990, the company is renowned for providing financial modelling expertise, due diligence and advice for finance projects for an array of global clients.
Operis has approximately 70 employees globally, spread across their London headquarters and North American office in Toronto, Canada. Their team specialise in project finance related services that include financial advisory, model development & audit, tax & accounting, modelling training and financial modelling software.
Out with the old…
Initially, in light of ‘Making Tax Digital’ (MTD) Operis was faced with the challenge of bringing their business technology up to date to comply with HMRC. In addition, their ambition was to take the business to new levels, and saw an opportunity to review their financial accounting solutions at the same time. The aim for the Operis team was to improve functionality so they could better report and analyse projects, resources and departments to make more insightful decisions.
Claire Farnfield, Head of Finance at Operis explained that at the core of the business was an on-premise, entry level accounting solution. They had been using an old ‘non-cloud’ accounting solution for many years, mainly to manage financials and very basic reporting. Operis admitted it was probably overdue an upgrade but it had serviced them well until now. However, the upgrade cost to the latest version of their incumbent solution was prohibitive. The current version of their solution was also not able to provide the functionality they needed to be able to grow the business or capture and track their financial performance and profitability. Moreover, the existing solution was installed on an ageing SQL server which was also costly to maintain and restricted remote access.
Luckily, the Operis finance team knew what they wanted to achieve and where improvements could be made. Now they needed the right accounting solution to match their requirements and provide more functionality than had been available to them before.
The company operates across four individual entities (3 in the UK and 1 in Canada), with each unit having their own individual accounts and separate reporting which then needed to be consolidated into group accounts.
The combination of using multiple bespoke systems, together with their accounting application for tasks such as project management and timesheets created on spreadsheets, consolidating and reporting on performance was a long and onerous process which could take up to a week to extract data. This often involved lots of manual input pulling together the information from multiple sources and further data-manipulation in spreadsheets. This exposed Operis to the potentially high risk of errors in data transfer.
Operis also needed a 360 degree view of each of their customers projects, its resources, timesheets, and expenses to assess financial performance. They needed to manage projects more effectively, allocating time costs against their respective projects.
Having access to real-time data would empower Operis to make better informed decisions and enable them to report more comprehensively and accurately on their projects, as well as write reports tailored to the company’s specific requirements. However, the limitations of all their current software prevented them from achieving
this. Operis knew they would be able to do this with a system upgrade.
Claire Farnfield, Head of Finance at Operis was responsible for researching and selecting a new solution, initially to meet the needs of MTD and move to the cloud. An initial conversation with Sage recommended that they speak with Acuity as the most experienced, knowledgeable partner with 30 years of implementing Sage solutions.
Being one of the few partners in the UK that could supply all Sage ERP solutions, Acuity could objectively recommend the right solution to meet Operis’ needs. In addition, Acuity could demonstrate experience of working with similar businesses.
With the help and advice of Acuity, it was recommended that Operis consider Sage Intacct as the best fit for their needs in relation to the solutions functionality.
Operis also investigated alternative cloud solutions but came to the conclusion that Sage Intacct offered much more in the way of functionality and the future opportunities it presented around reporting and projects.
…In with the new!
Once Operis had seen a demonstration of Sage Intacct’s functionality and capabilities it was clear that the solution more than delivered what they needed. Claire Farnfield stated; “Sage Intacct was everything we wanted and more”.
Operis initially decided on a phased implementation approach starting with financials and agreeing a go-live date. They would implement the Projects modules at a later stage. However, midway through the initial process they decided to implement everything at the same time. Even though this was change to the original plan the Acuity team still successfully met the original go-live date.
Besides offering cloud capabilities, Sage Intacct ticked the box in terms of the financial functionality and reporting. It was clear that Sage Intacct was the right solution as it would enable Operis to manage multiple entities across multiple locations and consolidate in minutes rather than hours. The solution provided them with a user-friendly, modern system which is enabling them to increase productivity and drive growth.
Operis have already started to see the impact that Sage Intacct is having on their business. Within the first month going live Sage Intacct allowed Operis’ finance team to:
Operis’ month end close rate has reduced using Sage Intacct. The improved functionality and reduced timescale for month end has given Operis a greater opportunity for additional analysis; empowering them to interrogate the information and drill into greater detail enabling them to make better decisions from better quality data.