Harland Financial Solutions needed to replace the collection of accounting systems owned by their many subsidiaries with one consistent system that could manage billing renewals and deferred revenue.
With SOFTRAX, Harland has been able to achieve significant productivity gains, easier audits and high levels of confidence in their numbers.
Harland Financial Solutions, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the John H. Harland Company. With over 6,000 clients, Harland Financial Solutions is one of the leading providers of technology to U.S. financial institutions. The company’s products include deposit and loan origination, platform, teller, call-center, mortgage, business intelligence, core processing, customer relationship management systems, document solutions and item processing / electronic management solutions.
Harland Financial Solutions was created through the acquisition of a number of small-to mid-sized technology companies serving various sectors in financial services markets. Each subsidiary within this new division – there were eight -- had developed their own systems and tools for managing the complex accounting requirements particular to software companies. Spreadsheets flourished to calculate and track information. Manual journal-entries were the norm. Confidence in the accuracy of these processes and systems was low enough to cause checking and re-checking at every close.
Jim Crough, Vice President of Finance at Harland, elaborated: “When all of these companies came together as a division, the accounting inconsistencies reached critical mass. Our new parent wanted all of us to move to their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for our accounting solutions. That was fine for the general ledger and accounts payable, but it was clear that system couldn’t handle recurring billings, deferred revenue – all of those accounting functions so central to the business of software companies.”
Harland needed to replace all of the subsidiary systems with one, consistent system that could manage billing and revenue automatically. “We saw a demonstration of SOFTRAX early in our search process,” said Crough. “It handled every one of these critical accounting activities, and it did it all inside the system without intervention. SOFTRAX actually defined the functionality we sought in other options.”
The company considered a number of alternatives before making a choice. Their IS group conducted a search for comparable products, but found nothing as appropriate as SOFTRAX. They also considered major customizations to the ERP system: “Our experience,” said Crough, “argued against modifying the ERP system. We’ve found that too many changes to the base software create big problems down the road. Out of the box SOFTRAX came as close to exactly what we needed as anything we could find in the market or build ourselves.”
“One of the most immediate benefits,” according to Crough, “is that we could set up each subsidiary as a separate business unit with a certain degree of control over its own destiny. In fact, each subsidiary is running an identical instance of SOFTRAX, all using the same account structures, the same processes and procedures. So they have much of the autonomy they want, but for the first time we have consistency across all of the business units. This makes accounting at the divisional level infinitely easier and more accurate.”
The way SOFTRAX handles deferred revenue made “a tremendous difference,” according to Crough. “SOFTRAX is a comprehensive system, so it quickly identifies what balances should be, how balances tie out by customer, and how those amounts will amortize.”
Harland also set up the system so that very few people had to handle the order. “In the past with other systems, one person would set up the billing, someone else would set up the maintenance and so on. It was like passing the contract over the fence. With SOFTRAX, everything – billings, deferrals, renewals – can be set up by one person all at once.” According to Crough, “That has saved us time, effort, errors, and missed revenue.”
Harland increased the productivity of key accounting and finance resources. “SOFTRAX allowed us to process much more efficiently and with a high degree of confidence in the numbers. For example, everything that had to be in place for a close was there – the detail, the journal entries, the support. It was all system-generated and needed no further validation,” said Crough.
Crough explained that even the auditors’ levels of confidence increased. “Our audit process is much easier now. Initially the auditors came in and tested the SOFTRAX system to verify that the schedules tie out. Now they accept the SOFTRAX-generated reports as fact.”