Integrated finance management

Bonair recently implemented the Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 system at the Warsaw Stock Exchange (WSE). The accounting department chose the system due to its ease of use.

The Warsaw Stock Exchange is a joint stock company established by the Polish Treasury. Its main activity is the organization of trade of financial instruments. The Stock Exchange ensures the concentration in one place and time of sale and purchase offers for the purpose of setting prices and conduct of transactions.

WSE is one of the fastest growing regulated and alternative regulated stock exchange markets in Europe as well as the largest national stock exchange market in East Central Europe. WSE’s dynamic growth plus debut on the stock exchange in November 2010 have dramatically increased the company’s reporting needs and the workload of the financial accounting team.

Prior to the implementation, WSE relied on Oracle’s finance software. However, any modifications would have been expensive due to the software’s limited reporting possibilities plus the reporting module did not meet the basic requirements of the accounting act. Hence, a decision was made to change the system. – The program wasn’t very flexible, it lacked many necessary functions and the option of WSE carrying out its own changes. It was also difficult to maintain – says Lidia Michalska, Chief Accountant at WSE.

Time for change

Various systems similar in quality and security were considered, including Microsoft Dynamics AX as well as Simple’s system. Two factors were decisive in the ultimate selection of Microsoft Dynamics AX: – During presentation, AX gave the impression of being very easy to use while at the same time giving lots of possibilities. Also, the IT department had a preference for Microsoft solutions as we already have other Microsoft systems – explains Lidia Michalska. AX is based on Microsoft SharePoint solutions hence the IT department decided it would work well within WSE’s office IT environment and it would be easier to implement.

Implementation facts

What:

Implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009, 28 licenses.

Where:
The Warsaw Stock Exchange.

When:
January – March 2011 – analysis and development of the System Implementation Concept 
March – May 2011 – building of solution
May – July 2011 – training and tests 
August 2011 – production launch
October 2011 – finalization of modifications

Bonair was chosen to carry out the implementation. – The company has a long list of AX implementations and achievements in this scope as well as highly skilled specialists. We liked the fact that Bonair’s employees were always very well prepared for each meeting and responded immediately to our questions and requests. They showed huge involvement and expertise, which bode well for the future and showed how our cooperation should and would work – says Lidia Michalska.

The implementation of Microsoft Dynamics AX 2009 included modules for: the general ledger, fixed assets, warehouse management, banking transactions, purchases and sales. AX supports book-keeping in all aspects, financial as well as tax-related, including report creation. The system is used by the whole financial accounting team plus people from other departments who issue sales invoices.

Start of the implementation

The implementation was started in December 2010 and consisted of several phases, in line with Bonair’s implementation methodology. Preparation of the project was the first phase, the second phase was an implementation analysis finalized with the System Implementation Concept defining the scope of the project. The document also contained the most important implementation tasks, i.e.: description of processes that the system would support, a list of system interfaces, scope of data that needed to be transferred from the old system, scope of modification of standard modules and a detailed implementation schedule. – The preparation of the implementation documentation and its update following training and system tests together with the preparation of all instructions and procedures as listed in the implementation agreement was the most difficult and time-consuming part of the project. This was particularly the case for the technical aspects – says Monika Raszewska, Implementation Team Manager at Bonair. Bonair also had to make a big effort to prepare documentation for the interfaces as the assumptions changed in relation to the initial requirements.

In February 2011, following verification and acceptance of the System Implementation Concept by the client, Bonair started to build the solution, a process that took until August 2011. – We planned for the implementation to take about six months but Bonair continued to develop various functions which we requested after we already started using the system – says Lidia Michalska.

Following the preparation of modifications and interfaces and in accordance with the implementation schedule, training sessions were organized for all users and administrators who were to use the AX system. – The training sessions were conducted professionally and in a friendly atmosphere. And this was also characteristic of our whole cooperation with Bonair that we were very happy with – says Lidia Michalska.

In line with the methodology, training sessions were followed by system tests. They consisted in the users going through all the processes described in the System Implementation Concept to confirm their accuracy.

Over a dozen people were involved in the implementation: 6 people from the financial accounting team and 5 – 6 IT specialists from WSE plus 3 – 5 Bonair consultants and programmers.

The changeover to the new system did not require any changes in the company’s organizational structure however new servers and an SQL data base had to be purchased. – As part of the implementation project we prepared documentation for the system and equipment as well as database infrastructure, in which we included a description of the optimal configuration. The client then obtained the right equipment and resources within this scope – says Beata Aussenberg, Sales Director at Bonair.

The specificity of WSE’s solutions

Microsoft Dynamics AX works with three specific systems used by WSE’s accounting department: a system supporting accounting documentation workflow, budgeting and billing systems. In addition, AX supports WSE’s home banking system in the area of export of transfers and import of bank account statements and works with remuneration software. A feature was also installed enabling the import of any entries from Excel spreadsheets.

Book-keeping software must be flexible enough to easily connect with systems that support accounting ledgers. We have a unique system of issuing and filing invoices, which are sourced from a billing system that creates the invoices – says Lidia Michalska.

Implementation benefits

  • A comprehensive solution – full integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX with the client’s specific systems
  • User-friendly system
  • Good integration with the office environment and Microsoft SharePoint
  • Simple IT maintenance, cheaper modifications.

Lidia Michalska
Chief Accountant at the Warsaw Stock Exchange

-AX is simple and easy to use. Its work is transparent and the system has many functions and possibilities. We’ll continue to develop it together with Bonair as we’re very happy with our working relationship to date.

Many modifications were made in the AX system to adjust it to the client’s requirements. – It was most important to adjust AX modules to the specific way of issuing invoices. WSE invoices are not typical invoices so this needed to be worked out separately – says Monika Raszewska.

Most modifications were already thought of and described at the level of functional requirements, i.e.: creation of interfaces for other systems that AX works with, including document workflow, invoicing, controlling and payroll import systems. – Apart from this, it turned out during the implementation that it was worth changing a few things and adapt the system to our needs. This concerned mainly ease of use and work ergonomics plus fulfillment of certain requirements that came up once we started testing the system - says Lidia Michalska.

The most difficult part of the implementation for the WSE team proved to be data migration. – The filling in of migration spreadsheets was a very laborious and time-consuming task for the whole accounting team over several days. On top of that, this was additional work we did alongside our regular work duties. It was a huge workload for us – says Lidia Michalska. For security reasons, the data migration was done twice – the first was a test migration done in summer and the second was a working migration carried out in autumn.

In turn, the biggest difficulty for Bonair proved to be limitations related to security, including lack of remote access to the client’s system. – All problems requiring data analysis had to be done at the client’s office. That’s why in the initial phase following the system’s launch when it wasn’t fully stable yet and final changes were being dynamically made, we ensured considerable assistance was available to the system users at their office place. After a month of intensive work on the newly launched system, the situation became stable – says Monika Raszewska.

User-friendly AX

WSE’s financial accounting team hasn’t been using Microsoft Dynamics for long but it has already noticed its positive effects. – Firstly, AX is much easier to use. It is more transparent and doesn’t require complicated technical operations like our last system. It also has many more functions and possibilities that make our work easier – says Lidia Michalska.

The improvement is significant as the last system was not integrated and some entries had to be re-entered in the General Ledger (i.e.: transactions, fixed assets), and some data had to be adjusted to match between the individual system elements. Currently each document is mirrored in the General Ledger accounts.

We’ve already started thinking about further modifications, i.e.: reports and launching new functions. We’re particularly interested in automating work and improving AX’s communication with the other systems we use. We’ve already started talking to Bonair about this as we’re very happy with our working relationship to date – says Lidia Michalska.

 

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