The Finance Dilemma: Choices, Choices

Keep maintaining aging legacy systems, or look to new alternatives such as cloud-based solutions? Too often, this choice keeps finance leaders frozen in their tracks. Read more from Mark Nittler.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood . . . .”—Robert Frost

I find myself thinking about that line often in my conversations with finance leaders about the systems running their finance shops. Aging legacy systems compared with new alternatives such as cloud-based solutions are presenting them with two options, and I am often seeing these leaders frozen at which path to go down.

On the one hand they can continue addressing legacy system deficiencies at the margin: Bolt on a reporting tool here, a planning tool there, which is a tried, true—and failed—strategy. Or they can rip and replace the finance technology infrastructure, which has the promise to drive real transformation but can seem too hard.

It’s hard to get enthusiastic about either option. Hence, the freeze.

I can understand why these leaders are so hesitant about replacing their legacy systems. The memories of the time, cost, and stress of their legacy ERP implementations and upgrades are still so painful even the suggestion of a big change leaves them shaking in cold sweats.

But then the incremental approach hasn’t worked either, because at their core legacy financial systems were not designed to do what we need them to do today, and no amount of incremental wrapping and layering around that core will change that—the phrase “lipstick on a pig” comes to mind.

That’s why at Workday, starting with a clean sheet of paper, we built a next-generation financial management application designed from the ground up to address the needs of the modern finance function, with a much faster and easier deployment than those legacy systems. This new generation of financial software offers companies an alternative to the painful legacy ERP implementations of the past, and creates a foundation that can support the increasingly complex business needs of today and in the future.

“We knew that if we didn’t update our systems, we were going to fall behind.”—Kevin Loegering, CFO, Johnson Brothers Liquor Co.

I have seen our own customers face tough decisions about having to rip and replace what they had but they did their research, made a decision, and worked closely with us and our partners to deploy a cloud-based finance system that is agile, fast, and easy to use.

As a result, they are transforming their finance organizations, gaining real-time business insights, and closing their books in half the time it took before. Kevin Loegering, CFO at Johnson Brothers Liquor Co., said, “We knew that if we didn’t update our systems, we were going to fall behind. Now we will continue to grow with Workday.” (You can read more about Kevin’s experience deploying Workday in this recent blog post.)

With over half of Workday’s financial management customer base already live and up and running, they are proof that the way forward doesn’t have to be painful and scary, and in fact, will deliver innovations that can drive your business forward.

This is an exciting time for financial software. As legacy systems continue to age, CFOs face a choice:  Continue with incremental bolt-ons that add weight, complexity, and cost?  Or, replace your finance technology with a modern system that can take your organization into the future.

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