Broker Network Group
Broker Network was founded in 1994 and is the UK’s leading insurance network with more than 600 independent insurance brokers. After rapidly expanding, they needed a new financial system that would allow them to maintain a number of separate businesses and compare consolidated figures and performances in real–time. IRIS Financials has proven to be a flexible and robust system that has supported the organisation’s growth.
The company brought in Finance Systems Consultant Andy Taylor, a chartered accountant with 12 years experience of selecting and implementing financial software systems, to look at the existing accounting software. This system was restricting the way that the organisation worked. Each time a new business was acquired, it had to be set up as a new company. As a result, some areas of the organisation were set up as departments and others as divisions, and separate purchase ledgers were being run for each business – around 30 in total! All of these had to be managed and maintained individually. Trying to aggregate purchase transactions across the Group (for procurement purposes) was difficult as each purchase ledger had different codes for the same supplier.
The old system would not allow the company to analyse its finances by both department and division. At the end of each month all trial balances were exported into Excel, compared against the budget and any adjustments made back into the old system. The month-end was becoming very time consuming and unwieldy.
Broker Network wanted a system where adjustments arising from the budget comparison could be made easily in real time, based on up to date and accurate information. Another key requirement was the ability to retain the existing company structure, with separate purchase ledgers for each business, but just one point of entry for supplier details.
After developing an initial shortlist of four suppliers, Andy decided to put IRIS Financials and COA to the test by setting up each package on a laptop as if they were going with the product for real but with test data. A selection of accounting staff put both packages through their paces. IRIS Financials proved to be the most flexible. Users liked the fact they could set up screens so they could get exactly what they wanted in terms of layout, and functionality and achieve faster easier input. IRIS Financials also offered a familiar ‘Windows’ environment.
“Having had the chance to experience both the systems at close hand, ultimately it was the users themselves who made the decision to go with IRIS Financials.” There are 15 users in the main finance function. Training was carried out on a one-on-one basis. This helped users to specify what they wanted from the input screens so that they were set up exactly as they wanted them.
The most popular feature so far has been the ability to post multi-company journals. If one company in the group charges interest to another, users do not need to make both entries separately – transactions hit the other companies’ accounts automatically.
IRIS Financials is allowing Broker Network to redesign its internal accounting processes, which had largely been determined by the old software system. Being able to do exactly what they want means they can put more efficient processes in place. Broker Network has already reduced the time for the production of management accounts from 13 to 8 days. Most importantly, they now have a robust system that will cope with any future expansion of the group.
Just eight weeks after Broker Network chose IRIS Financials, the new system was live. An IRIS Financials consultant worked with Andy to implement the software, easily transferring data across from the old system. Both systems ran live for a short period while sales and purchase ledger balances ran down in the old system. During the data migration, Broker Network took the opportunity to remap their nominal codes.
“If I was to design an accounting system, I would probably design something like IRIS Financials. In future I think other accounting systems will go the same way as IRIS Financials, because of its flexibility and the ability to analyse transactions for reporting purposes in a much more dynamic way than most accounting packages allow.”