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Case Study


Accountants Applaud New Spreadsheet Templates at Fender

by Dave Hannon | insiderPROFILES

January 1, 2011

At Fender Musical Instruments Corp., it’s no surprise that payroll and financial data is submitted through lengthy spreadsheets. Most accounting personnel know Microsoft Excel well and like to work with spreadsheets. But when Fender experienced challenges in loading that spreadsheet data into SAP ERP Financials, it began a search for a flexible solution that would solve the issue — and found one.

At Fender Musical Instruments Corp. (FMIC), the well-known maker of guitars, the business runs SAP ERP and reaps the enterprise-wide benefits of an integrated ERP system. However, Robin Michaelis, Accounting Manager at FMIC, says, “As accountants, we know Microsoft Excel very well — so the more we can do in spreadsheets, the more productive we can be.” This statement echoes the sentiments of countless accounting personnel worldwide.

The company’s payroll service provides its payroll data to FMIC weekly in a spreadsheet that’s thousands of lines long. Also, the smaller FMIC subsidiaries submit financial data to Michaelis’s organization monthly in a spreadsheet. The petty cash logs that come in from all over the company, for example, are each created in Microsoft Excel.

The advantage to these spreadsheet submissions is that non-ERP users can submit their data and the accounting team knows how to standardize all of it. They know how to use V-lookups and formulas in Microsoft Excel to make the spreadsheet data look like it should. In the past, the challenge of collecting data in spreadsheets was loading the data into SAP ERP Financials. The payroll data, for example, had to be uploaded via an FTP site.

So when Michaelis was first made aware of the GLSU solution from Z Option, it’s no surprise that she was a quick proponent. “We first purchased GLSU to handle the payroll reports,” she says. “But as we started using it, it became more apparent we could use it in a lot of other areas.”

“As accountants, we know Microsoft Excel very well — so the more we can do in spreadsheets, the more productive we can be.”
Robin Michaelis, Accounting Manager, Fender Musical Instruments Corp.

For example, recurring general ledger entries are all done within GLSU templates that the accounting department designed. While licenses are required for GLSU users to upload spreadsheets into SAP ERP Financials, any users submitting data can share the spreadsheet templates, including the subsidiaries and the petty cash custodians. Not only can those groups submit their data, but they can validate it in the template before submitting it.

As more users at FMIC get familiar with GLSU, it continues to be the solution to challenges around the company. For example, when FMIC was upgrading its expense reporting software, the IT crew was struggling to find an interface for accounting before go-live. “We told them we could upload the expense reporting data using GLSU, and the problem was solved,” Michaelis says.

In addition to GLSU, FMIC is also using the LIVExpress solution from Z Option, which is particularly useful for accounts payable processes. As Michaelis explains, FMIC uses LIVExpress to upload vendor invoice data from some of its smaller vendors. “They might not have EDI capability — but everyone has Microsoft Excel,” she says. “We can let vendors send us information in any format they want, as long as it’s Microsoft Excel-compatible and consistent from week to week. We can use the spreadsheet features to align the data the way it needs to be, and then we can upload it using LIVExpress.”

It’s that kind of flexibility that turns a piece of software into a true solution for its users.

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