SEVERAL YEARS back, the accounting department at Gray Television was a decentralized tangle. A variety of systems, redundancies, delays, waste, errors and omissions were all part of the daily process. When Gray acquired two TV stations and other businesses from Phipps Broadcasting in 1996, Gray had a total of five TV stations, along with publishing, paging and a mobile satellite production/uplink operations. Vance Luke, who transferred from Phipps to Gray and is now the company’s vice president and controller, found five or six different ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems for general edger. Payroll was on another system, and fixed assets records were maintained on spreadsheets.
Consolidating financial information involved rekeying printed reports from the various systems into spreadsheets. It was clear that the first step needed to improve the accounting department’s efficiencies was to select and implement a solid integrated ERP system. Gray’s operations were moved to a single general ledger system, with a common chart of accounts. Luke then rewrote all the financial statements.
Later his team added other integrated modules of the ERP system for accounts payable, human resources, payroll and fixed assets.
Over the years Gray fine-tuned its focus to be a “pure play broadcast” operation by divesting all other lines of business. This single focus on TV also simplified streamlining backend systems and set the stage for centralizing many back-end accounting processes.