This client works is a single-family office for a well-known family credited with launching one of the most iconic food brands in the world, let alone the United States. While the family has since sold the company to another well known organization, they led it for over 50 years.
Although the household name food brand is undoubtedly this single-family office’s most well-known enterprise, it also provides accounting, bookkeeping and operational services to a wide variety of other enterprises in a number of different industries in which the family has invested utilizing Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly known as Great Plains) as their accounting system. Much of the office’s time was spent manually entering invoices into GP Account Payables to pay taxes for individual family members.
Microsoft Dynamics GP had been used for many years by the single-family office, but they had fallen behind on applying upgrades to the system. This resulted in them utilizing an outdated version that was no longer supported by Microsoft. Consequently, they sought to migrate their accounting system to the cloud so upgrades and updates would be done automatically.
Yet another pain point for the single-family office had to do with its chart of accounts. As the foundation for accountants and firms, a chart of accounts should make the recording of transactions, revenues, liabilities and other financials more efficient and understandable. But our client’s GP chart of accounts did just the opposite. The setup made the client’s work tedious and confusing. As a result, it led to reporting inaccuracies that were frequently caused by improper coding entries.
Thus, between their complicated and manual AP process, an unsupported GP version, a desire to move to the cloud, and a convoluted chart of accounts structure, our client deemed it appropriate to look into replacing their GP system.
After going over all the client’s challenges and its desired goals, The TM Group (TMG) recommended Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central is a comprehensive business management solution for enterprises that lives in the cloud. Because it’s an all-in-one solution, it centralizes — hence the name — all the processes that take place within an organization so they’re visible and amendable by everyone who is using the solution.
Initially, the plan for the client was to remain with Microsoft Dynamics GP by upgrading it and moving it to a hosted GP cloud solution. But after seeing the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, they scrapped that idea and migrated to this ERP, which is a much more advanced and user-friendly SaaS solution. While Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central has a number of traditional features that can be used straight out of the box, it’s highly customizable, so an organization can truly make it their own based on what applications they leverage from the software. Scalability was one of the reasons why our client so strongly supported moving to Business Central.
One of the ways we at TMG were able to align Business Central with the needs of the client was by setting up an add-on reporting suite called Solver. Previously with GP, the client was using Management Reporter, exporting its reports to Excel, and performing many manual manipulations of the financial data to get the financial statements they needed. Solver automated this process, making financial reporting easier, more organized and more dynamic. Using categorization of their COA dimensions with Solver, we were able to provide a very dynamic report that groups and categorizes accounts without having to go into the report each month and tweak it like they had to do with Management Reporter.
The client’s GP chart of accounts was also poorly structured for their needs, but this was mostly due to the limits of GP’s COA functionality. They were using only three different segments with their natural account being the first segment. However, they were using the second segment to actually track four different types of transactions and the third segment was being used to track three different types of transactions. Consequently, this exploded the size of their chart of accounts, which led to difficulty coding entries properly and resulted in reporting inaccuracies. Using Business Central’s dimensional accounting capabilities instead of GP’s traditional structured chart of accounts, the SFO streamlined their COA dimensions from three down to two. One was Member ID and the other Investment ID, which eliminated most of their potential data entry and reporting inaccuracies by simplifying coding entries properly.
Another benefit of the Business Central implementation was from a customization that TMG created to streamline their AP process. They pay taxes for all the family members and with GP, they had to create a vendor for each family member in the taxing entity. So if they had 10 family members in Michigan, they had to set up 10 different state of Michigan vendors. This quickly snowballed into many duplicated vendors in their GP system. TMG created a customization that allowed them to utilize just one vendor in Business Central. Thus, the client was able to have just one vendor for each state and plug in the necessary information for each family member, streamlining a previously over complicated and confusing process.
With all these capabilities now in place, the single-family office is in a better position to address all the accounting needs of its family members by improving efficiencies, minimizing errors and achieving better results.
Since our founding, The TM Group has helped many family offices and hundreds of other organizations in dozens of industries implement smarter business solutions that enable them to perform at their best. Contact us today to learn more.