Oxford Economics, a leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis, has been on a steep growth trajectory for some time, including acquisitions of complementary businesses, taking the employee base from 30 or so to over 400 in just 5 years. Today it serves more than 1,500 international corporations, financial institutions, government organisations, and universities worldwide.
The organisation was aware that its disparate and geographically spread operations needed a central group-wide cloud ERP solution accessible from anywhere in the world. Early in this process, Oxford Economics had already selected SAP Business ByDesign and had begun the implementation process. Since the incumbent provider was no longer a viable option, Oxford Economics needed to identify a specialist partner who not only understood SAP Business ByDesign, but could also interpret their complex business model, ultimately helping them achieve their goals.
Achieving full ERP deployment with the right experienced SAP partner
When canvassing other SAP Business ByDesign customers one name stood out as a potential partner, and Oxford Economics invited Codestone to propose a possible solution roadmap. “We were cautious in our approach and needed evidence of their expertise,” explains Cerris-Jane Schenk, Finance Manager at Oxford Economics. “We gave them a number of examples of the challenges we were facing and were impressed by the response we received.”
Significant effort was expended on pre-contract engagement, covering a wide range of issues. “Codestone invested a lot of time in us before we committed to them. They demonstrated a deep understanding of what needed to be solved and how to help us move forward,” says Cerris.
Whilst Oxford Economics was using SAP Business ByDesign to support day-to-day financials, contracts and customer invoicing, several areas needed more attention to extract the benefits available from full deployment of the solution. Codestone provided the resolution to some of the challenges Oxford Economics was facing, helping ensure the project reached the finish line.
Standardised reporting empowers finance staff
The engagement has been centred around empowering Oxford Economics finance staff to also design and implement solutions themselves, and to train their own staff. “Reporting is improving significantly, with monthly and quarterly reporting expected to be standard across the organisation by the end of the year,” continues Cerris. “Codestone has helped us get to the point where we are now designing and deploying our own reports – a huge benefit for us.”
Revenue recognition has also been a challenge for Oxford Economics with the need for both subscription and consultancy business models. Codestone has identified solutions in SAP that provide the required visibility of hours worked for consultancy projects that span business entities and countries.
The international nature of the business requires bespoke invoice templates for each country. Getting this wrong would have tax implications for the organisation. As such, templates have now been designed to ensure local regulations are adhered to.
The journey towards maximum benefit realisation continues, with full deployment of SAP’s projects module, and integration of Salesforce CRM with SAP Business ByDesign.
Reaping the benefits of a global cloud solution
According to Cerris, Oxford Economics has moved to a state where real business benefits are being achieved. “Codestone has helped Oxford Economics reap the benefits of a global, cloud solution for our finance and operational needs. They provide us with the knowledge and skills we need and it’s reassuring to know we are not alone on this journey.”
SAP Business ByDesign’s standard reporting and localisation for tax and compliance has reduced manual effort across the group, while integrating separate businesses world-wide into a standard set of processes on a single Oxford Economics system is transforming visibility and efficiency.
Cerris concludes, “SAP Business ByDesign is a relatively new system, so all software companies are on a learning curve, but Codestone has been able to come up with solutions for us that are nicely tailored to our requirements.” And in terms of remote working the cloud-based solution has enabled Oxford Economics to weather the Covid storm. “With staff working remotely and busier than ever we would have been in big trouble in this pandemic without SAP Business ByDesign.”
Codestone is a multi-award-winning business applications and cloud services company focused on SAP’s Business One and Business ByDesign products, complimentary applications and managed hosting services. The business recently won SAP’s award for best B1 and BYD partner in Northern EMEA for the third year running. The company is focused on helping customers gain the maximum from these business applications, taking the time to understand specific needs and to deliver their desired outcomes.