TAG has announced that Cleveland Indians was assisted during its successful year in 2016 by the implementation of NetSuite. Cleveland Indians went live on January 4th 2016 and the ERP software has helped to improve the operational efficiency at the baseball franchise. Ken Stefanov, Chief Financial Officer, Cleveland Indians commented: “TAG and NetSuite have helped us streamline our operations and make it possible for our personnel to be more productive no matter where they are located around the globe. We continue to experience great customer service from TAG and highly recommend using the firm for NetSuite deployment and on-going professional services.”
Cleveland Indians were as successful on the field as its NetSuite implementation was off the field. Although they lost to the Chicago Cubs in the 112th World Series they did win the American League Championship. They also achieved a franchise record 14 game winning streak. TAG completed the implementation of NetSuite within six months. Donna Sandsmark, Director of NetSuite Professional Services at TAG commented: “TAG successfully implemented NetSuite ERP and NetSuite OneWorld at the start of the Cleveland Indians 2016 baseball season. With NetSuite, the financial department is able to run all back-office operations and financial business processes in the cloud.”
TAG takes the wise approach to implementation
The project migrated the Cleveland Indians off their legacy Microsoft Great Plains solution during the off season. This ensured that it did not impact the team during the profitable playing season. Split into two phases over a period of six months, the first phase implemented Adaptive Insights in just two months. This is a cloud-based reporting and analysis tool that integrates seamlessly with NetSuite. The main NetSuite ERP implementation was finished in the remaining four months. The project also included the migration of historic data and the implementation of fixed assets.
NetSuite now manages the purchase of tracking of inventory such as bats, balls, gloves, office supplies and uniforms. While NetSuite does not manage the retail side of the business yet it not confined to head office. The cloud-based solution is used across the organisation including by the scouts who travel extensively and use the solution to manage their expenses. This improves the accountability and payment times for those employees. The franchise now manages the complete lifecycle of its fixed assets across both depreciating and non-depreciating items, including their revaluation and disposal when appropriate.
The implementation was also not restricted just to the Cleveland Indians baseball team. The franchise has taken advantage of the multi-company functionality of NetSuite. In total, all five subsidiaries now work using NetSuite include the Dominican Republic tea, minor league teams and a charity organisation that is part of the group.
Project challenges for Cleveland Indians
As with any ERP implementation project there were challenges. We contacted TAG for further comment. Donna Sandsmark, Director of NetSuite Professional Services at TAG responded to our email. She revealed some of the challenges faced and how they were overcome.
Businesses often become set in their ways. This is often exemplified by the structure of the chart of accounts. For finance managers it is often a structure that they inherit. An evolving business is not always best suited to the current situation. Sandsmark identified the chart of accounts and segmentation as the primary challenge saying: “TAG worked with the Indians to simplify their COA and leverage NetSuite department and class segmentation to achieve a more streamlined accounting system.”
It was also clear that the data migration, especially historic data, was an issue. Its migration was accomplished after the software went live. Sandsmark again clarified how TAG achieved this saying: “TAG developed a customized solution to bring over 7 years to transactional AR and AP data”.
As an authorized NetSuite Solution partner TAG has its own tools to help customer with their projects. An important question to pose to potential partners is not just whether they can migrate the data but how they intend to do so. The answer will indicate whether they have done it before and how frequently.
As part of the project the Cleveland Indians also wanted a unique approval routing. Sandsmark responded “TAG leveraged workflows and custom logic to implement these diverse approvals”. This is one of the advantages of NetSuite. It allows the creation of such workflows, TAG used its expertise in delivering the workflows to match the Cleveland Indians requests. Not all ERP solutions deliver such functionality.
Major training challenge
The final challenge noted by Sandsmark was the expense reporting. Sandsmark commented “TAG conducted training and produced user guides to assist the hundreds of scouts transition to mobile NetSuite expense reporting.” This is interesting as delivering such training to scouts who probably have never used an ERP solution before was a major challenge. The success of the project would depend upon those training guides and it appears to have been an effective means of reaching out.
We asked Sandsmark what she felt were the key lessons learnt from the project. She identified three things that she believed were fundamental to its success:
- Understanding your key business requirements and differentiating what you do now from what will make you more competitive in the future
- Dedicating internal subject matter experts to champion the project and work on the tasks
- Selecting the right NetSuite partner to lead the implementation
- It is the first of these that is most interesting as it takes defining KPI’s to a new level. Companies often consider what they want out of the solution based on their current situation.
While this is a a historic win by TAG it is always interesting to see how the implementation went and the lessons learned. The success off field project was probably not directly responsible for the success on field of the Cleveland Indians. What the franchise can look back on is a successful year though both on and off field. It will be interesting to see what developments and improvements 2017 brings in both those spheres.