Debenhams updates finance systems for growth

Debenhams has revealed itself as a beta implementation site for a new finance system released this week.

The UK retailer has been a user of finance IT software from provider Coda since 2001. But it has recently been trialling Neon, the latest version of the system made available this week, with a view to using it to support ambitious expansion plans.

Michael Conway, Debenhams Retail finance director said the company has plans to double its 141-strong UK store estate in the next five years, while also introducing 100 stores for its new, smaller retail format, Desire. It also plans to expand on its 35-strong international franchise business with a further 12 store scheduled to open next year.

Coda supports Debenhams' entire finance function and is fully integrated with many of its other key operational systems including point-of-sale and supply chain.

But Conway said the new version, Neon would help increase the automation of procurement and invoice matching processes, scaling better with its new web-based user interface using a new Microsoft Office 2007 look and feel as well as integration capabilities, to enhance and streamline key processes, essential for growth.

"The web-enabled nature of Neon means we can easily deploy it to 2,000 store-based managers and users," he said. "The new procurement function is easy to use, cutting down on training and deployment costs. And users can quickly raise or authorise new orders using familiar Office functionality like right-clicking to add and delete lines or using the copy and paste or drag and drop features."

He added that the process workflow engine within Neon has also made the authorisation and invoice matching procedures more streamlined and collaborative as well as replacing manual, paper-based systems with greater automation.

"Neon addresses the full procurement cycle and ensures everyone is abiding by best practice that is more collaborative, streamlined and automated," said Conway.

He also said that, for the first time, Debenhams will be able to move away from traditional electronic data interchange (EDI) based systems thanks to the ability of the new Coda system to accept invoices in XML, allowing it to more quickly identify discrepancies, escalate outstanding invoice queries and reduce the amount of paper invoices processed.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.