"If there were any changes in a process or project today, every person involved would automatically be informed, no matter where they are. This eliminates time-consuming coordination procedures and double entries. Such benefits can be experienced on a daily basis and this is the reason why Microsoft technologies are so important in our administration processes."
Jens Herbig, Team Manager with Finanz Data GmbH
Digitalization is changing the business environment - in some industries earlier than in others. The finance industry is one of those sectors that are already undergoing the digital transformation: As many sales processes now occur online, the number of bank branches decreases constantly. In the insurance sector, "insuretechs", i.e. agile startups that market new products online or via mobile apps, frequently offer innovative services to their customers. The consulting and software house Finanz Data GmbH - shortly referred to as FIDA Software - accompanies the finance industry and in particular the insurance sector as a full-service provider on their individual path to digitalization.
The portfolio ranges from process consulting to individual application development and ongoing system support. "Our projects always start with a detailed system analysis. Based on this, we develop specific recommendations for action which will then be implemented. For this, a professional test and quality management is important because, in the insurance industry, the security and data protection regulations are particularly strict. After all, it is sensitive and personal information that we are dealing with," explains Jens Herbig, Team Manager. With the locations of Munich and Gotha, the IT service provider addresses the German-speaking area and also handles international projects. In 2017, the currently 105 employees achieved a turnover of EUR 12.3 million.
While the accounting and annual accounts were prepared by a tax consultant, FIDA Software used different applications for project management, order processing, payroll accounting or travel expenses reporting in the operative area for a long time. Many of these applications were self-developed solutions on the basis of Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access. Individual operational requirements, such as the complex calculation of sales-related wage components, were well covered by this, but the individual programs were insufficiently networked if at all. As a result, data often had to be recorded twice, which consumed a lot of time and involved a high risk of error. "The strong growth in the last few years further increased the problem. At some point, the pressure to act was so high that we looked for a modern, sustainable solution, "says Herbig. Although an in-depth SAP know-how is present from customer projects, this solution was excluded right from the start. "The operation would have been too expensive for us as a medium-sized service provider. The Business One solution for medium-sized companies was just one of many systems we evaluated," he adds.
Before the selection of the software was initiated, the project team analyzed their processes and requirements. The results were used as the basis for a list of requirements, weighted according to single items, that maintained the necessary objectivity. Key criteria included adaptability, interface capabilities in the finance area or employee-related features such as project time recording, vacation management and travel expense reporting. The top five candidates were invited by FIDA Software to give a presentation. Here, COSMO CONSULT, the world's leading Microsoft Dynamics partner, won the race with its ERP software Microsoft Dynamics NAV. "COSMO CONSULT had addressed our special requirements and processes and already presented initial solutions during the presentation. Another advantage was the broad product portfolio, especially in the mobile sector. This ensured that we could obtain all the necessary technologies from one single source and implement the entire project with one contact partner," emphasizes Herbig.
The main focus of the software implementation was on the commercial sector. Here, the project team added the payroll accounting module NAPA3. However, in order to map the complex, variable payroll accounting system, further individual adjustments were required. "On top of their basic salary, most employees receive a sales-related or profit-related remuneration," explains Herbig. For executives, the variable salary components relate to the entire team performance. In addition, downtimes must be taken into account. The special requirements were met with relatively simple means in Dynamics NAV, such as additional columns in the standard tables. With the new payroll accounting system, manual effort is only required for the final check. "Today, we only need half the time for the monthly payroll accounting and are able to complete it one week earlier," says Herbig and is pleased.
A further project objective was to make the access to operational processes easier for the employees. For this purpose, the new enterprise software was supplemented by the portal system Microsoft SharePoint. Employees can now use a self-service portal to update their profiles, report absences, or initiate approval workflows for vacation requests. "One benefit of SharePoint is the flexible access to all functions. Our employees use the portal via web browser at the workplace or mobile via the corresponding apps for tablets and smartphones," emphasizes Herbig. SharePoint is seamlessly integrated with Dynamics NAV. New and changed data are automatically synchronized in both systems. Because the employees obtain information about absence, residual annual leave or vacation approvals by themselves, the workload of the human resources department is reduced. "As nobody has to wait for information any more, SharePoint is also popular among the employees," he adds.
Step by step, FIDA Software now provides more information on SharePoint: For example, credits and incoming invoices are stored online directly from the ERP system via the additional module cc|dms. Sales invoices, contracts and correspondence are to follow shortly. "Our employees spend most of their time at the locations of our customers. During this time, it is possible that some work is left undone. With the new document management system, processes can be handled irrespective of the place," emphasizes Herbig. cc|project, another additional module of COSMO CONSULT, connects Dynamics NAV with Microsoft Project. As a result, project times, dates and status messages are also available in the ERP software. This facilitates the work for employees who only need information, but not the full range of project management features.
With the Microsoft technology stack, the project team succeeded in improving the processes at FIDA Software in crucial areas. Today, administrative tasks such as payroll accounting, travel expense reporting or checking oincoming invoices are handled faster and more reliably as employees use the relevant functions in a more flexible way - also on a mobile basis on business trips. Important information from areas such as project management or accounting are now centrally available for all employees. "f there are any changes in a process or project today, every person involved will automatically be informed, no matter where they are. This eliminates time-consuming coordination procedures and double entries. Such benefits can be experienced on a daily basis and this is the reason why Microsoft technologies are so important in our administration processes," highlights the Team Manager.
In view of its success, the software and consulting company is already planning a further system expansion: In cooperation with COSMO CONSULT, it is planned to likewise manage trainings and contracts with Microsoft Dynamics NAV in the future. "Another point is the integrated workflow management that we have hardly utilized so far. Automatic notifications for certain events could further relieve our employees," emphasizes Herbig. But before that, the software and consulting company will migrate the ERP software to the latest version of the program in order to be technically up-to-date.