The Learning Lab is a privately-owned educational enrichment organization based in Singapore that is committed to bringing out the best in every student. It reaches over 12,000 students teaching English language, Mathematics and Science disciplines, empowering students to think beyond the confines of the classroom. For years, the company relied on an outdated version of Microsoft Dynamics for general ledger financials and fixed assets, a custom-made billing system that lacked internal controls, a CRM, and other software to handle its billing, attendance, and class scheduling.
“The company was using very outdated accounting software for basic book-keeping,” says Ying-Jian Chan, CFO. “Our finance team realized this was not sustainable given our volume and growth and set out to replace it with a financial solution with robust financial management for cash management, expense claims and procurement.”
Because the old system was rudimentary and was not connected to the company’s CRM, the financial team didn’t receive a lot of customer data with an order. For example, they did not know which lesson session a parent purchased, when the session would start, or which subject a student selected. They also didn’t know which center the student would attend, so they didn’t know where to allocate revenues properly.
Only a few of The Learning Lab’s approximately 500 employees had access to the financial system, so a data entry team of two had to input expense reports and other financial information into the system, often tediously entering the same transactional information into different applications.
“The system was not designed to pull the session information into the invoice,” says Shirley Lim, The Learning Lab’s Director of Finance at the time. In addition, “There was no ability to set (access) controls, so we couldn’t provide very many team members access to information they might need to do their jobs. The billing application didn’t have an AR schedule, and we had a lot of validation and reconciliation issues,” she said.
Ms. Lim had previous experience using ERPs from SAP and Oracle and started the search for a cloud-based ERP with strong financials, one that could also easily integrate with other applications. They also needed a flexible system to keep track of thousands of students taking one or two of the 2,000 classes offered a week, and software that didn’t need a lot of expensive customization.
“We needed something affordable and flexible. We didn’t want to feel locked into just one solution but be able to connect best-of-breed software for the different functions we needed,” Shirley Lim stated. The Learning Lab wanted an out-of-the-box solution for financials that was easy to use and could be accessed from any of their regional centers.