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Global IT services provider Computer Aid Inc. has maintained an entrepreneurial culture that is typical of much smaller companies. Its management approach rewards individual ownership and success, which helped the firm achieve US$300 million in revenue in 2011, $50 million of which was new business. Computer Aid competes with other global professional IT services providers in providing technology support and managed staffing services. Maintaining that culture of personal investment became painful and difficult, however, as people interacted with outdated software. To manage its business, Computer Aid had integrated its highly customized general ledger software with Intuit QuickBooks, which the firm's overseas offices used; multiple time entry programs; and other client service and administrative applications. Company leaders realized that this system would undermine responsiveness to clients and hinder the company's prospects for further expansion. Andy McIntyre, CFO at Computer Aid, remarks, "It's in our DNA to build rather than buy, but over time, this resulted in 15 individual systems that were aggregated through internally developed tools and held together with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets."

To improve access to profitability and performance management information in a flexible, modern technology platform, Computer Aid deployed Microsoft Dynamics AX and went live with it in March 2011. Computer Aid uses project accounting capabilities to track all labor against customer billable projects or a selling, general, and administrative expense. The firm relies on professional-services automation functionality for costing, billing, and project accounting.

Computer Aid can consolidate financial and business management of all its operating units in Microsoft Dynamics AX, helping people deliver highly responsive client service and manage operations confidently and profitably. McIntyre says, " Now, with robust, self-service reporting based on real-time data in Microsoft Dynamics AX, people can understand what is happening in the business, see trends, and act on them. Self-service reporting fits our culture of individual ownership and contributes to our corporate success. People can use a familiar tool, Excel, to access it and, because the reports connect to Microsoft Dynamics AX, the spreadsheets update with the current version of the data."

The firm reduced ERP support costs by $400,000 annually, slashed its billing cycle in half, and improved cash flow. Having aggregated operational and financial data into a single ERP system, Computer Aid is well-positioned for its next stage of growth. "By using Microsoft Dynamics AX, we've tightened our revenue-to-cash cycle while providing more detailed, timely, and actionable operating information to our leadership team," concludes McIntyre.

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