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Sometimes you just don’t have a choice about taking on a challenge. Take the problem that the Stepan Co., a middle market specialty chemicals maker based in Millsdale, Ill., had to confront. Here is a company with sales in the neighborhood of $800 million and an M&A appetite to become a major global player. After a score of strategic acquisitions, it found that its systems no longer provided an accurate view of the state of its enterprise. But given the ongoing integration of its new purchases, it had no stomach for the gut-wrenching implementation that often accompanies an overhaul of financial IT.

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