Our series of interviews with Nakisa Chief Technology Officer, Faraz Ahmed wraps up with an all-important question: how to keep your information safe when integrating ERPs. It’s one more example of how Nakisa Lease Administration can turn even the most complicated integration scenarios into a smooth, straightforward—and secure—process.
Let’s talk about security. With lease accounting you’re involved in a lot of sensitive and perhaps confidential information. What type of security measures need to be considered and accounted for during and after integration?
There are multiple stages during which data security needs to be accounted for. The first is security for data in transit. When the data transits from customers’ on-premises systems to Nakisa’s cloud servers, it has to remain secure. We supply top-notch security by establishing a tunnel on our cloud connector to Nakisa’s cloud platform. That tunnel features high-precision encryption that the customer can choose, which ensures all data in transit securely arrives at the system.
Stage two involves data at rest. All the data at rest is encrypted on the storage drive. We leverage trusted cloud vendors like Amazon, AWS, and Microsoft Azure, which instills confidence that the data is sitting in a sturdy cloud infrastructure and is encrypted.
The next consideration revolves around internal processes: How can someone access the data? How will we make sure that an employee at Nakisa cannot misuse it? This is where SOC 1 and SOC 2 compliance comes in. We have robust, thoroughly vetted processes that we monitor frequently to ensure that data is only accessible on a per-need basis with customer consent.
Finally, it’s important for customers to have IT governance and control—ITGC. This allows them to know, for instance, who has accessed, changed, or uploaded data, or who has approved a contract, processed a payment or changed the value of a field in the application. An audit trail and audit logs are available for all the activities performed in the software. That allows IT teams to trace any change in the system. All these features ensure that customer data is protected. Everything they trust us with is kept safe and secure.
It’s very secure sounding. That brings up the question of data. There’s obviously a lot of information and data that needs to be taken into consideration in that connection. What difficulties can there be with regards to data quality when you’re integrating your ERPs with other solutions? Are there any specific lease accounting challenges?
There are. Any time you try to look at the data from a different perspective, you will notice holes in it right away, the data quality is not up to par. Before, leased equipment and leased real estate were just classified as expenses. But now they’ve been considered right-of-use assets and corresponding liabilities. Naturally, customers need to collect more information now. Missing information can cause serious calculation problems.
What we do not want is to have a system in which we are generating financial information without being able to check the health of the data. That is why Nakisa Lease Administration has data quality tools that allow customers to import and inspect their data.
Poor-quality data can take many forms—a cost center may be missing or dates may be reversed, for example if a contract’s start date comes after its end date. These are small data problems that can lead to larger issues. Nakisa Lease Administration performs many analyses on the data and reports back to the user, who can then double-check and fix the data using all the quality tools that come into play at multiple stages during the data import process. Also, because we are connecting directly to the ERP, that data can also be swept in to check for consistency problems that are relevant to lease accounting standards. The user is given an opportunity to correct the data before it is released to the rest of the organization.
Thanks to valuable feedback from our customers, we were able to build a data quality toolset that is now in action. It saves a lot of time for our customers—they no longer need to carry out manual checks in Excel or complex queries in the database to check if the data is correct. Now the software does it for them.
I love that! There is something else I’m quite curious about. You’ve been with Nakisa for a long time. Given your position as our Chief Technology Officer, what do you think can be the biggest deterrent enterprise-level organizations face when they’re looking to integrate?
Whenever “integration” and “ERP” are used in the same sentence, those in the industry will immediately plan for a two- or three-year project. There’s a reason for that. ERPs address some of the most critical functions of an organization. Organizations rely on ERPs so they can be efficient, agile, and meet their targets. Whenever we want to integrate with an ERP, customers are very curious about whether integration will cause problems in other areas. It’s a very large “system of systems”, with many teams and processes depending on it. That’s the biggest deterrent when customers think about ERP integration—time, cost, and effort.
Now, because of the new lease standards, organizations need to make sure they are compliant. One of our customers has up to 200,000 leased forms of equipment, which translates to 200,000 lease contracts. Right away, the magnitude of the effort becomes very prominent. This is where we pay extra attention to make sure that most of the integration work is automated in the software rather than having to resort to very long, tedious manual activities.
We work very closely with our customers. They have been amazingly supportive in helping us figure out best practices that we can then reuse for other customers. This combined with an inclination towards automation allows us to complete integration projects in a matter of weeks, not years.
There is some occasional turbulence: whenever you work with large ERP systems, there are always surprises that come up. But with the help of our customers, we are very efficient at solving problems. Weeks can turn into one or two months, but it’s not the conventional three- or four-year integration project involving middleware and a lot of engineers and architects.
We want to provide an automated, end-to-end solution. Nakisa is extremely successful at reducing the cost and time of integration projects.
At a glance
- Enterprises evaluating cloud solutions need their data to be fully secure
- Nakisa Lease Administration ensures data accuracy by performing regular data quality analyses. User access, authentication, and audit follow the industry's best practices.
- Nakisa Lease Administration can handle hundreds of thousands of lease contracts
Get in touch to learn more about how Nakisa Lease Administration can easily integrate and turbocharge your ERP.