Question

Shamrock Foods is a major food distributor centered in Tralee, Ireland. Originally a dairy cooperative, Shamrock branched into various food components (dried milk, cheese solids, flavorings [or flavourings, as the Irish would spell it]) and has had substantial growth in the past 10 years, most of which came by way of acquisition of existing companies or facilities. For example, Iowa Soybean in the United States is now a subsidiary of Shamrock Foods, as is a large dairy cooperative in Wisconsin.
Shamrock has processing facilities in over 12 countries and distribution and sales in over 30 countries. With the rapid growth by acquisition, the company has generally adopted a "hands-off" policy keeping the systems separated and not integrated into a unified ERP system.
Thus, each acquired company is still largely autonomous, although it reports to Shamrock Foods and is managed by Shamrock Foods. This separation concept has been a problem for Conor Lynch, CFO of Shamrock Foods. The board of directors would like some aggregated data for direction and analysis of acquired businesses. Conor has the reports from the various subsidiaries, but has to have his staff convert the figures reported in them to a consistent basis (generally, either Euros or American dollars).

QUESTIONS:
1. When should a multinational/multisite business consolidate data systems?
2. There are costs associated with consolidating data systems that have a variety of hardware and software systems. For example, the various acquired companies already had their own functioning accounting systems. What justification should Conor use to push for a consolidated, unified ERP system?
3. At times, Conor has to deal with incomplete and incompatible data. For instance, inventory systems might be FIFO for some of the subsidiaries and LIFO for other subsidiaries. How might a CFO with multinational interests deal with incomplete and incompatible data?




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  • CreatedMarch 13, 2013
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