Software smoothes Showtime's number crunching

The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW has deployed an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution to relieve accounting headaches during the Sydney Easter Show and beyond.

Faced with the challenge of staging 200-plus events each year, the RASNSW needed the right system help the organisation understand its financial position after each event in a quick profit and loss format.

Brad Sherringham, the society's accounting and finance manager, said its previous system, by Adept, could not perform this complex function based on a six-silo ERP system which incorporated purchasing, payroll, event booking, food and beverage inventory, membership and other tasks. Moreover, the company's accounting system was separate.

The newly installed Great Plains ERP e-business solution eEnterprise has greater reporting and data extraction strengths, Sherringham said.

"The old system just didn't do sub-analysis."

"Previously, it was difficult to extract information without changing the format of a document into Excel. Also, with eEnterprise you can drill all the way down to specific transactional information and into, say, a purchase order or general ledger system," Sherringham said.

The society used the Olympics last year as the first test case of the solutions' reliability, Sherringham said.

"We had to bite the bullet - we couldn't afford not to implement the system, as September is the last month in our financial year. So we went through the pain of getting it operational in three months, " Sherringham said.

The system is easing the management of $50 million turnover during the Royal Easter Show.

"We manage about 35 million business and consumer transactions at Easter Show time and have eliminated tedious tasks like double-keying purchase information," he said.

The main implementation headache, he said, came down to a few configuration problems and the task of training staff to master the application.

US-based integration partner Professional Advantage told the RASNSW to expect to toil over the implementation for a good six months, but the project took three months to complete, saving staff from any pre-Olympic panic and meeting the organisation's end of fiscal year project deadline.

Having invested $150,000 to map their systems into one through eEnterprise, Sherringham expects to see a return on investment over the next three years.

"Our IT group is enjoying the technical benefits of eEnterprise like the luxury of self-programing because it is Microsoft Visual Basic-based and we are on a Microsoft platform," Sherringham said.

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