Category

Replace old software

The implementation process: Staying organized, motivated, and on path

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
ERP implementation process

Completing an ERP implementation project requires you to stay organized, keep your people motivated, and ensure the project stays on path. Here are a few tips to make that happen.

So you’ve made it to the final stages of your ERP journey—you’re just an implementation project and a go-live away from a business management solution able to facilitate your next decade or more of growth.

After realizing that your outdated or entry-level solution can no longer meet your needs, communicating the change, securing buy-in, and completing a vendor analysis, you’ve selected a solution and partner and are now entering the home stretch. Congratulations, after months of planning your move beyond QuickBooks, this long journey is coming to its conclusion.

However, if you’ve ever completed an endurance sport, you know that there’s a big difference between ‘almost finished’ and ‘completed.’

The same goes for your ERP implementation. You’ve gotten so far—why stop now? It’s time to buckle down and make it to the finish line.

Will there be a bit of a headwind or a couple hills? Yes. However, you’ve prepared for this and understand that even if an ERP implementation may not be “easy,” it can be manageable. Plus, if you’ve followed our advice, you’ve chosen a partner who has done this many times before.

The home stretch: Getting from implementation to go live.

As the title of our article implies, completing an ERP implementation project requires you to stay organized, keep your people motivated, and ensure the project stays on path. Here are a few tips to make that happen.

Planning for the process

Before completing an endurance race, you’re going to at least look at the map. Should you conserve energy for a big climb? Is there a stretch heading southeast in which you can expect a bit of sweet, sweet tailwind? At which mile markers should you break out your energy gel? Are you aiming for simply completing the race or are you going for time?

The same goes for your implementation. Prior to starting, you will work with your partner to determine which type of implementation project you will need, discuss your vision, needs, and project scope before writing up an implementation strategy. During this phase, you will discuss more about how your business works and work with your partner to establish timelines, benchmarks, and goals.

Maintain pace

You’ve planned for the hills. You’ve set a goal time. Now you have to follow your plan. When completing an endurance event, it’s important to stay focused on the finish line. But the old adage, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” exists for a reason. It’s imperative that you maintain a pace that allows you to get to the end.

The planning process tells you a timeline. Project management is what gets you to the end. Project management is all about comparing the progress made against the original plan and thereby updating the plan.” To accomplish this, assembling a Project Management Team to guide the project from beginning to end is necessary.

This team includes an executive sponsor, a person high on your organizational hierarchy who is there to discuss expectations, answer questions, settle disputes, and keep spirits high. It also includes a project leader, someone who is knowledgeable about your business, has previous management experience, and can communicate clearly. This person is also in charge of setting team member responsibilities and keeping people on task within your organization.

Stay organized

When you make the move to implement ERP it’s easy to get distracted. Maybe you start to thinkof adding more nice-to-have features. Is it doable? Of course—today’s ERP is customizable, and your partner will be glad to take on the additional work.

However, you need to know each addition will shift the timeline and ‘additional work’ means more billable hours to build the product to your new needs. It’s much cheaper and much less risky to discuss every element before the project starts.

Keep your spirits up

Getting to the finish line is hard. There will be trying times and frustrating moments in both implementation projects and endurance races. Keeping spirits high throughout the process can help you get through. For ERP implementations, this means effective communication.

If you’ve followed our series, you know that proper communication prior to implementation helped you document your needs and instill a sense of ownership among the employees who will be affected most. However, now you need to expand this communication across the organization.

It’s also important to note that communicating exactly what is happening, why it’s happening, and when it’s happening throughout the process will keep everyone in the loop and mitigate the anxiety ERP implementations can bring.

Surprises can be both good and bad. If your employees – the end users – understand from the beginning that adopting ERP technology is a business initiative and strategy and not just a new software package or an IT project, then they are more likely to support the entire process.

The journey to ERP starts with the right advice

Since 1994, NexTec Group has been in the business of software, and as a leading reseller of Acumatica, we have helped customers just like you to realize the benefits of the product and implement the solution without any hiccups. Get to know more about our work herefind your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: Training employees, going live, and using a new ERP solution

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
outgrowing quickbooks training

Based on the scope of your project, you’ll work with your partner to develop an implementation project plan for your project team.

It’s been a journey. But at long last, it’s coming to an end. It may feel a bit hectic at the moment, but the finish line—your ERP go-live date—is in sight. One last hill to get over and you can officially say that your company has completed the ERP implementation marathon and has a solution able to facilitate years of growth.

The path to ERP: A recap of our outgrowing QuickBooks series.

Before getting into the final steps—training, the go-live, and the ongoing use—we invite you to read the entire series:

  • Realizing that it’s time to make a change: This article explores the first steps you should take when your long-trusted QuickBooks application starts to show wear and tear, and answers how to tell that your business is ready for fully functional ERP.
  • Communicating a change: If you’ve used QuickBooks for years, convincing users that it’s time for an upgrade may present challenges, but by talking with users, you can allay fears and understand what users want and need.
  • Determining and documenting your needs: Getting from communication to decision requires you to know what you need. In this article, we explore how to determine where you are, outline a project strategy, and decide on what features you will use.
  • Securing executive commitment: ERP is a big investment, and getting your C-suite on board for a move from an ‘incredibly affordable’ product to a much needed one could require a bit of convincing. We explore some key talking points and tactics.
  • Completing an ROI and vendor analysis: An ROI analysis identifies both direct and indirect benefits of an upgrade to determine if you can afford a move, how quickly a move will pay off, and how much the investment will generate over its life.
  • Finalizing your software decision and selecting an implementation partner: Getting from numbers to decision requires an innate understanding of how each product will affect employees. This article answers how to get from shortlist to selection.
  • Getting through the implementation process: With the decision made, the final step in this marathon is often the hardest. In this, we explore the steps to complete an implementation and the best practices to get to where you are today.

Training your employees

Based on the scope of your project, you’ll work with your partner to develop an implementation project plan for your project team. During this phase, you’ll develop a training plan alongside the implementation plan.

As the go-live date approaches, the training process begins. Depending on the tech-savviness of your team, the preferences and learning styles, and the budget, you will have a variety of options available including but not limited to:

  • On-site/face-to-face: The most customizable, hands-on, and flexible training, face-to-face is structured around the learning styles of your employees.
  • Classroom: Like it sounds, in-person classroom training can work for the right people, in which a trainer can educate your employees in groups.
  • ELearning: Likely the most cost-effective training method, eLearning can range from videos to learning paths or online classrooms.
  • Train the trainer: A final step in which users demonstrate their knowledge by showing a trainer how to use the software.

An ERP deployment may be the most intense IT project your company ever undergoes, and at times it can be overwhelming. Be sure to allocate plenty of time for training and prepare for the associated costs.

Added to this, many ERP vendors offer free ‘open university’ programs where users can learn the basics at their own pace.

Preparing for go-live

The culmination of your ERP implementation project is when you “go live” and actually start using the system to support day-to-day operations. This is the day (or process) the product is ready for use. Data is converted, users are trained, tests are completed, and your IT team is ready for a vacation. How do you intend to get from theory to reality? With the help of your implementation partner, you will choose an option that works for your company, often one of these three:

  • The Big Bang: Your employees walk out Friday and your IT team gets to work. Walk in Monday, and everything is new. This is the “big bang” go-live, and it’s perfect with the right preparation, training, and alignment.
  • The phased roll out: Changeover occurs in phases over an extended period of time. Users move onto new system in a series of steps. While it avoids the risk and system shock by replacing one big bang with a series of small ones, it also creates an environment where you’re trying to work with two different systems.
  • The parallel operation: Both the legacy and new system run at the same time. Users learn the new system while working on the old. While low risk, it’s also the most labor intensive—approximately twice the work. As a result, neither system will get the proper attention.

Using, maintaining, and expanding your system

With day one out of the way, you’ve done it. Users will begin to get more comfortable with the software, operate faster and more accurately, and hopefully realize that they have a few more hours each week.

If everything was done properly, you will begin to recognize value quickly. However, you can’t rest on your laurels, in today’s world of technology, new products, new techniques, and new business processes are emerging at a breakneck pace. Most vendors will introduce functionality twice per year, and if you feel something is missing, you should remain active on the boards to request functionality.

In addition, we recommend the following:

  • Keep your software up to date: Internally, be sure your system remains up-to-date with new applications, new capabilities, and new “releases” that the developer will issue on a regular basis (or will be continually released in some cases) to make sure that your system continues to grow and adapt to changing needs.
  • Expand when needed: As discussed in previous blogs, ERP is flexible. In fact, it’s one of the selling points and the reason we recommended you don’t need everything on day one. As your business grows, you can easily add more functionality.
  • Keep employees in the know: Your system changes, but so do your people. There is a continuing need for user training and education – think of it as CPA’s CEU requirements – to enhance skills and understanding, prepare users to exploit and benefit from new functionality or new responsibilities, and continue to expand the utility and benefits from your new ERP system.

Your ERP partner: NexTec

Whether you’ve been anxiously awaiting each new installment of our implementation series or stumbled upon this article, know this: the ERP implementation process is complex and it pays to have a partner who has been there and done that.

Since 1994, NexTec Group has been in the business of software, and as a leading reseller of Acumatica, we have helped customers just like you to realize the benefits of the product and implement the solution without any hiccups. Get to know more about our work herefind your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.

Zeroing in: How to finalize your ERP decision after outgrowing QuickBooks

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
Outgrowing QuickBooks Finalizing Decision

With your shortlist in place, now it’s time to dig in. In this phase, you want to know how the software works, stack up vendors against your expectations, and hear from users similar to you.

The path to selecting a new business management solution is never an easy one. From realizing that your current product can’t deliver to convincing your team it’s time to make a switch to evaluating the dozens of potential vendors who could serve you, everything starts to blend together.

As we start to approach our final articles in our series on outgrowing QuickBooks, we would like to discuss today one of the most challenging parts of the process—making your decision.

Request proposals.

Request proposals from the suppliers on your short list. Share your requirements definition and any other information they might need to prepare a proper proposal for you.

Make sure that they include all implementation costs including data migration, user training, consultation help, and on-going costs so you can develop a true TOTAL cost of ownership for the time period you designated in your ROI analysis.

Stack your vendors up: Criteria, hands-on demos, and references.

With your shortlist in place, now it’s time to dig in. In this phase, you want to know how the software works, stack up vendors against your expectations, and hear from users similar to you.

Evaluate side-by-side.

One of the best ways to get here is to evaluate your potential vendors by the priorities you’ve set earlier. You already know what you need, what you want, and what you may need in the future from your early-stage discussions with end users. You’ve likely cut vendors out because of these criteria.

Now it’s time to reevaluate and finalize your priorities and compare each vendor side by side on their ability to deliver. Looking for an easier way to do this?

Check out this helpful checklist that allows you to compare vendors on their ability to deliver productivity, functionality, technology, value, and minimized risk. Be sure to keep this list on hand—and print a few dozen copies—for the next step as well.

See what you’re getting.

As you evaluate your finalists (both vendors and implementation partners), you need to see what you’re getting. The demonstration process is built to help you understand this and will provide a lot of necessary information for your executives and end users.

Prepare a list that includes everything you need to see and be sure to include departments and user communities in the process so end users can get an introduction to the look-and-feel, process flow, and usability of each system.

A couple pieces of advice:

  • Stick to the script. Don’t get wowed by features and functions that your company does not need.
  • It’s a comparison of who’s best for you. Remember the demo is not a competition of what product is better than the other, it is a test to see if the product meets your needs.

Learn more about who you’ll be working with.

Perhaps the best way to understand each of the vendors on your shortlist is to hear from the people who already know how they work—the current customers. While case studies are great and vetted and verified reviews are even better, hearing directly from a current customer is a way to hear an unfiltered and honest analysis. Many reviews are written during the honeymoon phase, so it’s ideal to see if they still feel the same way a few years later.

Ask them about the software functionality and usability, the supplier’s support and responsiveness, and what they would do differently if they were just starting with this system. Ask about their successes and challenges during implementation and how well their chosen partners supported their needs during the implementation.

Take another look at ROI.

In our earlier blog on securing the initial go-ahead from the C-suite, we mentioned that “calculating ROI should be done at a couple points in the ERP decision.” The initial analysis was designed to prove that an ERP move would be worthwhile, that it’s more costly to do nothing, and that your executives should back the investment.

While your initial analysis was completed without a quote in hand, now that you are closing in on your final selection, you have real numbers in hand, and can complete a more accurate ROI analysis.

Another note on ROI? Plan your costs accordingly. Depending on licensing and whether you are choosing the cloud or on-premises, costs may be recognized at different points or you may have to factor in hardware replacements.

Make sure that you are getting what was promised.

In our last blog in out outgrowing QuickBooks series, we looked at two key concepts important to developing your shortlist. First, we discussed the three-legged stool of ERP—functionality, ease of use, and support—noting that without one of these three legs, the entire solution falters. Second, we explored five criteria for evaluating vendors.

This is always an important idea, but often, it’s not enough. Too often, vendors and their implementation partners will put out a deal that’s too good to be true.

Whether it’s discussing functionality that doesn’t exist, misrepresenting the risks, promising impossible implementation schedules, or undercutting costs, it’s easy to fall into a trap set by unscrupulous vendors.

How to get an honest answer.

Sometimes, getting an honest answer from your vendor isn’t as easy as you’d expect.

There’s a difference between companies who promise ‘easy implementations’ and competent implementers. The former glosses over details, the latter tells you it’s going to be hard and will walk your people through the pitfalls.

Learn more about some of the most common traps set, including the bait and switch, the unbelievably fast and easy implementation, the ‘unbeatable’ price (that fails to account for training), and the ‘sign and milk’ in the Acumatica blog, How to Protect Your Company Against Unscrupulous Cloud Business Application Vendor Practices & EULA Games.

Choose, negotiate, and finalize.

Getting from finalist to finalized is never an easy task, but with the right advice and partner, you can settle on a solution that matches your price, value, and risk expectations. You have the proposals, you’ve seen the products, and you’ve heard from customers—now it’s time to select.

If the proposal is within your budget and delivers everything you want and need, you are very fortunate. Negotiations can be done within reason, but remember that you can’t sacrifice needed functionality, support, or ease of use to save money. Remember, this is an investment in the future of your company, and a little bit of cost savings today could lead to years of lost revenue.

Whether you’re just starting out or are already on the cusp of a decision, we’re here to help. NexTec Group started out over a quarter-century ago because we saw that few companies were able to deliver successful software implementations.

Get to know more about our work with Acumatica, our recommended solution for companies outgrowing QuickBooks, check out the following resources below, can contact us for more information.

How to choose a software and implementation partner when you outgrow QuickBooks

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
outgrow QuickBooks implementation partner

The right partner is often one who is big and diverse enough to handle your needs, who has proven they can innovate, and who is ultimately honest about the challenges you will go through.

The process of outgrowing QuickBooks is both an exciting and challenging time, and it’s something that happens to nearly every business at some point. As you grow and realize that the product has become less of a solution and more of a challenge, knowing when and how to make the move is critical for your business.

Following previous blogs on the path to moving beyond QuickBooks—recognizing that the product isn’t able to deliver for your business, communicating a change and asking questions, securing executive buy-in, and comparing vendors by return on investment—we would today like to turn our attention to the process and best practices that go into finalizing the software choice and selecting an implementation partner.

These two concepts are intimately intertwined. The right software is the most obvious consideration, but the implementation partner can enhance or diminish what the software can do. Not all partners are created equal, and even the best solution for your business—if implemented poorly—can fail to provide the value you expect. So today, we’d like to explore the most necessary things to look for in a vendor and discuss a few secrets for finding a partner who puts your business first.

Choosing the right ERP solution for your needs.

ERP has been around for decades, so expect that nearly all ERP products have essentially the same core functionality, more or less. So, with that being the case, how does one choose the best system for a company’s specific needs? It all starts with understanding the “three-legged stool” of ERP.

Balancing three necessary criteria.

Like a real three-legged stool, a product will only stand if each leg is in working order. Lose one and it falls over. For ERP, these three legs are functionality, ease of use, and support:

  • Functionality: Match the specific functionality that you need today (per your requirements definition) with the ability to adapt the system to change when your needs change.
  • Ease of use: Evaluate the design of the user interface in how familiar and intuitive it is – it must be simple to learn and easy to use.
  • Support: Finally, the system developer and/or implementation partner must be reliable, trustworthy, and compatible with your needs and company culture.

Five most important elements of ERP.

In narrowing down your list, selecting the top three or so vendors you want to hear from, there are many things to look for. However, successful implementations can be distilled into the following criteria:

  • Functionality: While also one of the three legs of the ERP stool, functionality really just means, “does it do what it’s supposed to do, and if not, can it be customized to make it work?” Focus on software that fits your business. That is, it is successfully installed and in use at companies in your industry, preferably companies of about your size.
  • Maturity: While the beauty of the cloud is in its rapid update process, allowing your business to get new features twice per year, it’s important to work with a vendor who has been there before. It’s nice to have the “latest and greatest,” but it’s risky to be on the “bleeding edge” of technology. You should look for a system that has been field tested and proven in actual use… in your industry.
  • The Vendor Itself: Your ERP provider will be a partner for the long term, not just a supplier of a product. Be as sure as you can be that they will be around for the long haul. Check their financial stability – do they have the resources to support the product in the coming years?
  • User groups and software community: You need to be able to ask questions and get answers. Ideally, you should be able to find customers like yourself who have solved similar challenges. Whether they can help you find a customization or can answer a not-so-frequently asked question, the user community should be a good resource.

Choosing an implementation partner: A proposition that can make or break your ERP project.

As mentioned above, a vendor can provide the best product, but a poorly selected implementation partner could cause it all to fail. A good vendor will create a good partner program (ranked by CRN), but knowing what to look for from a partner will go a long way in ensuring your project is a success.

As a company who has been in this business for a quarter century, we have found that the right partner is often one who is big and diverse enough to handle your needs, who has proven they can innovate, and who is ultimately honest about the challenges you will go through.

  • Proven innovation in the VAR community: Becoming ‘certified’ is one thing; but having the experience to back it up is another. Bob Scott’s Insights VAR Stars is an annual listing of these value-added resellers who lead all others in growth, innovation, and industry leadership. NexTec is proud to be a mainstay on both the VAR Star list and the Top 100 VARs list.
  • Big enough to meet your scope, not too big to forget about you: While innovation is one thing, size is another—especially for midsized to large companies. A partner who has the scale, scope, and size to deliver services no matter how big you are, what you do, or where you are, but not someone too big that they treat you like just another project.
  • Experience and honesty: This is what makes it so important to find a partner who has been around the block, who has the skills to adapt to changes, and who can walk you through the process. When we launched NexTec, we did so because we noticed that software sellers that had never walked a mile in the customers’ shoes. Over the last 25 years of growth, we brought on some of the greatest minds in the business and kept them happy—our average consultant has 25 years’ experience in software, consulting, and industry.

When you begin to outgrow QuickBooks, you are facing one of the most exciting challenges that exists. It means that your business has grown, and you are ready for a solution that can take you to the next level. NexTec helps organizations just like you to move beyond QuickBooks and into a more robust accounting and ERP software designed to meet the needs of your business today, tomorrow, and ten years from now.

For our growing small and mid-size (SMB) clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our workcompare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Get to know NexTec

We chose NexTec because they were the only provider that spent the time getting to know and understand our business and our employees.” – Janet O’Neal, Planning and Control Manager (Kellogg Garden Products)

Since 1994, NexTec Group has been in the business of software, and as a leading reseller of Acumatica, we have helped customers just like you to realize the benefits of the product and implement the solution without any hiccups. Get to know more about our work herefind your local office, and contact us for a free consultation.

ERP solutions

Outgrowing QuickBooks: completing an ROI and vendor analysis

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
QuickBooks migration ROI analysis

One of the hardest parts of an ERP decision is whether or not you can afford to make a move now. However, if your business is growing rapidly, you may notice that even if the cost of your current product is extremely low—if you continue to push accounting software past its sell-by date, you are putting the future of your company at risk.

When you’re outgrowing an entry-level accounting software like QuickBooks, you begin to see the signs. The days get longer, the software starts processing a bit slower, and you begin to worry if your reports are as accurate as they should be.

If you’ve begun to notice any of these signs, congratulations, it means your business is growing! However, it also signals that your business needs to take its next steps, moving from accounting software to true enterprise resource planning software.

This is a time when inaction and haste are both risky. Move too slow and the migration process becomes more complex and costly. Move too fast with the wrong vendor or partner and you could face implementation failure—a situation in which you never recoup the investment promised.

Following our last blogs on communicating a change and securing buy-in from your executive team and end users, we would today like to turn our attention to the next step in your ERP journey: ROI and vendor analysis.

Getting the return you need: completing a return on investment (ROI) analysis.

One of the most important stages in the ERP decision journey, the ROI calculation process takes place at two stages for many companies. Early on, many companies will use an ROI calculator to decide whether an ERP upgrade makes sense. Later, you will take the information you receive from vendors in a quote to determine which one will provide you with a product that will pay for itself quickly.

Often, you may need to complete a capital expense justification (return on investment or ROI analysis) before committing to an ERP system. An ROI analysis identifies both direct and indirect benefits of an upgrade to give you a metrics-based argument on whether you can afford to make a move, how quickly such a move will pay for itself, and how much the investment will generate over its life.

This identifies the upfront costs pertaining to the investment, compares ongoing costs for your current and replacement product, and highlights the benefits associated with a decision.

Upfront costs: how much will it cost to purchase and implement a product?

One of the hardest parts of an ERP decision is whether or not you can afford to make a move now. However, if your business is growing rapidly, you may notice that even if the cost of your current product is extremely low—if you continue to push accounting software past its sell-by date, you are putting the future of your company at risk.

Calculating upfront costs will provide you information in pitching executives on a product and will allow you to compare vendors. When looking at ERP costs, include the following:

  • Computer hardware, operating system, database, networking, and tools including installation, startup and testing
  • Application software (ERP) license, installation, tailoring, data conversion/loading
  • Procedure development, testing and documentation
  • User training
  • Vendor and consultation assistance with implementation

A common mistake, however, is the assumption that hardware and licensing costs need to be paid up front. Not anymore. The cloud has lowered the initial costs of an ERP upgrade, greatly reducing the capital expenses that come from a move. Rather, businesses can pay a subscription fee over the life of the product.

Ongoing costs: how do different options stack up?

With an understanding of the implementation costs, now you need to turn your attention to the ongoing costs. A good basis for comparison between potential products, this analysis determines how much it will cost to run an IT department under both, how much each will cost in terms of licensing and maintenance fees, and how much it will cost to expand or extend the system.

Direct benefits of implementing ERP

Often the real selling point of a new ERP system comes from the benefits it provides. An ERP implementation offers direct benefits like cost savings, cost avoidance, revenue and profit. These come from four key areas:

  • Having greater visibility to demand and schedules.
  • Closer management of materials, equipment and personnel.
  • The ability to better manage workflow and production schedules.
  • Greater coordination of resources to efficiently deliver the right products in the right quantities at the right time.

For example, better management of inventory reduces cost of goods sold. It also prevents costs associated with last minute changes.

Indirect benefits of implementing ERP

It also offers a variety of indirect benefits. While productivity, integration, and minimal overtime are great in a cost-savings analysis, they also provide peace of mind for employees. An employee who doesn’t need to toil away for hours on a spreadsheet is going to feel more comfortable. Better accuracy is going to help you make more levelheaded decisions, and anytime access could even reduce the number of workers coming in sick this winter. Learn more about some of the peace of mind benefits of ERP here.

Talking to the right people: finding the right vendor for you.

With dozens of ERP options available, it can be overwhelming to sort through the pros and cons of all of them. Additionally, many vendors provide the same core functionality, making it challenging to find the right vendor.

Functionality may seem like the most basic requirement when looking for a solution. However, it can’t be the only requirement. Software needs to be usable, mature, and able to work with other products—all while offering a support network that can help you.

Functionality: does it do what it’s supposed to do?

One of the most important steps is to speak with users and document the must-have features, the ones you will need in the future, and the ones that are merely nice to have. Understanding what your people need is vital to adoption and necessary for documenting needs.

If you’ve already documented your needs, you will save a lot of time during this stage and be able to focus it on the other four categories.

Maturity: how long have they been in the business?

It’s nice to have the “latest and greatest,” but it’s risky to be on the “bleeding edge” of technology. You should look for a system that has been field tested and proven in actual use… in your industry. Finding a vendor who is both a proven commodity in the industry and one who has continually put its efforts into innovation is necessary for getting what you need—now and in the future. Look for a proven vendor who offers big updates consistently, often twice a year.

A vendor who is in it for the long run.

Your ERP provider will be a partner for the long term, not just a supplier of a product. Be as sure as you can be that they will be around for the long haul. Check their financial stability – do they have the resources to support the product in the coming years? Look at their track record for clues about how well they support customers and improve the product over time. A good place to look for this is through the Gartner Magic Quadrant, an analysis of market presence and ability to execute.

A community of partners ready to make the product work for you.

Look for a community consisting of implementation and consulting partners, satisfied users, as well as user groups, discussion threads and conferences. These resources provide considerable added value beyond what you get from the supplier.

Look for a vendor who has a highly-rated partner program, who puts a lot of effort into empowering partners, and find a partner who has the size and scope to help you. Read this blog to learn more.

Honesty and credibility.

If something sounds too good to be true, it just might be. In today’s cloud market, many vendors have repurposed their products to call them “cloud.” Often, however, these fake cloud products end up providing less than they promise, surprising you with less than adequate support, higher implementation costs, insufficient user training or additional costs for necessary software, services or assistance.

Do your due diligence and get to know the difference between true cloud and fake cloud here.

The journey beyond QuickBooks is a long but rewarding one.

When you begin to outgrow QuickBooks, you are facing one of the most exciting challenges that exists. However, knowing when and how to make a move is often a challenge, and as mentioned above, both haste and delay are dangerous. However, with the right information and advice, your move from QuickBooks to ERP could be a smooth transition that benefits your business for years or decades.

NexTec can help you understand your options. For our growing small and mid-size (SMB) clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our workcompare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Outgrowing QuickBooks Needs

Outgrowing QuickBooks: How to determine your current and future needs

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
Outgrowing QuickBooks Needs

Early discussions and needs documentation could help you to reduce costs and better understand who is best qualified to help you move from QuickBooks to a new solution.

Going from accounting software to Enterprise Resource Planning software is a big decision and an important step for growing businesses. This is an exciting time for your company, but it also might be a bit stressful—especially if you are pushing past the limits of your current product. However, at this stage, the only thing worse than inaction is hastily jumping into a decision without all of the facts—something you can overcome with a bit of planning.

Following our last two blogs documenting the warning signs and steps to communicate a change, we would today like to discuss another important concept: Understanding what you need.

In our last blog, we touched on the basics of communication, noting that by speaking with your users, you will be able to weed out bad fit products, increase project optimism, and instill a sense of project ownership among those most likely to balk at a change.

Notably, this isn’t all. Early discussions and needs documentation could help you to reduce costs and better understand who is best qualified to help you implement a solution.

Why it’s so important to know what you need before you implement

It’s well known that Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is an investment in the long-term future of your business, and while it will pay for itself over time, the price tag compared to an entry level product like QuickBooks may seem high.

However, these costs are nowhere near as high as the costs that pop up from last minute changes in the scope of a project—something common that occurs when companies rush into a project, only to get distracted by the bells and whistles that could be added.

Luckily, with the right planning and project framework, you can approach your project confidently and well informed, with a “broad strokes” strategy in place before you start looking at solutions.

Knowing where you are and where you expect to be in ten years

In this, it’s important to speak with team members, end users, and department representatives to determine where your business currently stands and where you want it to be.

Outlining a project strategy

After discussing the changes on the horizon with users, the next major step in the ERP planning process—before you even speak with vendors or implementation partners—is to outline the project strategy. In this step, you will only need to outline the general shape and form of your ERP selection and implementation project, later detailing specifics.

Project planning starts with a statement of the purpose of the project, the goals and objectives – another way to state the benefits, not necessarily in terms of monetary return but rather in how it will affect the organization and the users, their efficiency and effectiveness. In essence, what do you hope to achieve in your first few months with the software?

Documenting a starting point

From here, it pays to understand where your business currently sits. What systems do you have in place? How is your data structured? Ultimately, ask yourself, “where does the business stand?” In their guide to Navigating ERP Selection and Implementation, Acumatica notes that “one thing that is often neglected is to take baseline measurements, including things like:

  • Inventory levels by type (raw materials, work-in-process, finished goods by type)
  • Inventory accuracy
  • On-time production completion
  • Production lead time
  • Customer service level

Additionally, you should look at your current database, identify errors and deficiencies, and plan how much data clean-up is required and what it takes to get it done.

Discussing what features are important (both now and in the future)

Now comes the part where you and your users need to think about their ideal solution. What should a new ERP system accomplish? What processes can it automate? What kind of integration should it provide? What problems does the current system have that you can’t afford to have after implementation?

With the help of your end users and department representatives, identify the specific system functions needed in the new system and break them into the following four categories:

  • What is an absolute requirement?
  • Which capabilities are highly desirable?
  • What kind of functionality is not needed now but important in the foreseeable future?
  • Which features are cool or nice to have but are not essential?

The goal here is to think up a minimum viable product, knowing that many of those ‘nice to have features’ might be more affordable or easier to get than you think. Added to this, thanks to the flexibility of Cloud ERP, know that even if you don’t choose to implement a specific feature today, you can always add it in the future.

For example, if you’re a distributor looking to move into the eCommerce world but haven’t officially set out on the journey, you don’t need to implement the functionality at the outset. Not sure where to start? This free checklist will discuss some of the basic features included in ERP software and can be used throughout the entire process to compare products.

What’s next? The journey beyond QuickBooks

The decision to implement ERP at your growing business is not one to be taken lightly. However, with the right advice and product, the move to implement such a product can go more smoothly than you initially expected.

For our growing midsized clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our work, compare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: Securing the go-ahead from the C-suite

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
Outgrowing QuickBooks

Throughout the C-suite, you may have individuals who are skeptical of a software upgrade. This is especially true if the executives have never been part of an organization that used a solution beyond QuickBooks.

In the move from accounting software to Enterprise Resource Planning, it’s incredibly likely that you will face pushback, distraction, or other challenges. It’s an exciting time for your organization (you’re growing), but it can also be a stressful one (you’re about to embark on a major software project). These two competing factors often present challenges. However, if you can take the right steps leading up to an implementation, you will save yourself time and headaches.

Following our previous blogs documenting the warning signs and communications initiatives you should take on your path to fully-functional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, we would today like to explore a couple of the hardest and most crucial steps on the journey: Securing executive buy-in.

Pitching the investment: Securing executive approval for an ERP project

Companies start out with QuickBooks for a variety of reasons. It’s familiar for users and makes it easy if you choose to outsource your accounting work. It gives your first few accounting users a reasonably functional accounting solution for small business needs. Small businesses could buy and implement the software in an afternoon.

Most importantly for companies just starting out, however, is that it’s insanely affordable. As an accounting software, it’s not meant to do everything an ERP solution does.

Accounting software like QuickBooks is affordable in the same way that a studio apartment is more affordable than a three-bedroom house. Both offer a roof and walls, but each serves a different purpose. ERP software is the three-bedroom house. It does more, is ready for growth, and ultimately provides more comfort and utility.

Challenges in securing executive buy-in

Selling the idea to executives is a challenge, however. While you may know the struggles faced by end users, the extra hours it takes to generate a basic report, and the frustration experienced trying to bring everything into a spreadsheet, when you’re trying to pitch someone who isn’t on the front lines, they may not see the same value in an ERP investment as you. This is especially true if the executives have never been part of an organization that used a solution beyond QuickBooks or worse, have seen an ERP project fail.

Throughout the C-suite, you may have individuals who are skeptical of a software upgrade.

For example, your CEO, known for his or her big picture ideas, may not use the accounting software. The CMO may have his or her own agenda and feel that the organization should look towards something for the front office before the back office. The CFO, responsible as the gatekeeper and steward at the organization, may not feel the investment is worth the cost.

Getting the C-suite on board: Different rationales require different tactics

While all of these individuals (and others) may be skeptical, they are also among the biggest beneficiaries of ERP. Selling each of these is a process.

Convincing the CEO: Readily available insights

The CEO may not use accounting software. However, he or she would benefit greatly from real-time, customized dashboards that can present exactly where the company is. No more asking for a report and waiting hours or days to see it. Simply log in and see the big picture metrics.

Selling the CMO: Integration makes everyone’s job easier

The CMO might feel that the sales and marketing departments should be the top priority when it comes to business management software and think ERP is just fancy accounting software. Not the case. Today’s ERP includes or is designed to integrate with CRM, inventory, and business intelligence tools.

With accounting standards like ASC 606 impacting the entire company and requiring increased attention to the way contracts are managed, alignment between finance and sales will become an imperative. A simplified quote-to-cash process and easy performance obligation tracking will save the entire organization time.

Facing down the CFO: Improve finance productivity and satisfaction

While in many cases, the decision to move from accounting software to ERP is made by a CFO looking to make finance better equipped for company growth, sometimes you still need to do a bit of selling. In recent years, the role of the CFO has continued to evolve, and as the company grows, the responsibilities will continue to add up. CFOs are moving into operations, risk management, and more.

Now, rather than being the head accountant and chief of the ‘no department’, the CFO needs to increase visibility, control, and decision-making—three things ERP is known to help with. Added to this, the move to ERP Is going to save time for many people in the organization, including the finance department. With a current talent shortage in finance and accounting, a move to ERP will result in fewer late nights at the office and more satisfaction.

Informing the CIO: More security, less scud work

Another person who may be a driver of an ERP decision, the CIO may also be the person pushing back against a software change. The most likely of the group to have read an ERP implementation horror story or to have experienced failed software implementations previously, getting the CIO on board is either incredibly easy or annoyingly complicated.

Whether there’s pushback against the cloud or against the risk that comes from a complex software implementation, the CIO is another one to benefit from the move to ERP—especially in the cloud. Inherently more secure, cloud ERP will reduce the risk that the IT department faces. Added to this, cloud ERP is designed to reduce the amount of maintenance that the IT department has to accomplish, making for less time spent troubleshooting servers or hand coding and maintaining integrations.

Reel in the buy-in: Take time to talk ROI

While you may have everyone on board with the benefits of upgrading from QuickBooks or any other entry level accounting software, if you’re not talking about the costs associated with the benefits, you’re just pitching a pipedream. This is where ROI comes in.

Justifying a large expenditure requires estimating the cost of the investment, from licensing and implementing it to training users and maintaining the system. Cost (and timeframes) can be gleaned from your ERP vendor. The total cost is then weighed against the benefits of a new system.

Whether it’s in the form of reduced costs, better access to business opportunities, or improvements to employee and customer satisfaction, the decision to implement ERP often presents real, measurable benefits for your company.

In addition to the measurable financial benefits of a move to cloud ERP, you likely can present additional benefits—both tangible and intangible:

  • Improved customer satisfaction with faster response times
  • Increased data analysis and visibility for better decision making,
  • Improved employee productivity through more comprehensive and intuitive workflows.
  • Centralizing documentation online for constant availability of a single source of truth
  • Minimizing Accounts Receivable days outstanding

Calculating ROI should be done at a couple points in the ERP decision, but to get a high level overview of the benefits (without sending out for quotes from vendors), this free calculator from Acumatica will help you to understand the value of making a move to ERP, comparing it with your current expenditures. Simply enter a couple numbers about expenditures today, and it will help you to understand whether a move is beneficial.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: your next steps

When you begin to outgrow QuickBooks, you are facing one of the most exciting challenges that exists. It means that your business has grown and you are ready for a solution that can take you to the next level. NexTec helps organizations just like you to move beyond QuickBooks and into a more robust accounting and ERP software designed to meet the needs of your business today, tomorrow, and ten years from now.

For our growing small and mid-size (SMB) clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our work, compare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

Is QuickBooks quick enough to keep up with your growing business?

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

Outgrowing QuickBooks: Securing the go-ahead from the C-suite

Outgrowing QuickBooks

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
Outgrowing QuickBooks

Getting to know what your users want from your QuickBooks replacement will do two things. Not only will this help you to weed out certain products from the outset, it will help to increase optimism about the project.

When you outgrow entry-level software like QuickBooks, you know it. Your business starts to slow down, the lights at your office stay on a bit later each month, and you begin to worry if everything is accurate.

Following our last blog on the major warning signs that QuickBooks is failing to deliver for your business needs—namely spreadsheets, lack of visibility and auditability, and data instability—we would today like to turn our attention to your company’s first step in leading the charge to a new, viable, and innovative ERP solution: Communication.

Start talking with users

QuickBooks is built for simplicity and ease of use. Used by tens of millions of users at millions of small businesses worldwide, the company’s success in this market is also the reason it’s often hard to convince people it’s time to move on—many users haven’t seen better options.  For these users, manual and spreadsheet-laden processes and software crashes are considered part of life, and few people have seen the alternatives or next steps for growing businesses.

QuickBooks is familiar, and the reality is that there’s probably more than one person on your staff who has never used a different accounting solution. Change is stressful, and while the thought of more automation, flexibility, and functionality may be welcomed by some, others may dread or even fear the change.

To address this, you need to speak with (and listen to) those who use the product. Your goal here is not just to “rally the troops,” but to understand their concerns and get to know what features their ideal solution will have.

Rally the troops

Throughout the ERP implementation process, there will be many things that could lower morale and ultimately derail the project. Knowing this, it pays to start off with high—but tempered—hopes. Help users to understand that despite the challenges and stress that may come about throughout the implementation process, the company is moving to something better.

Allay fears

While many of your users will be optimistic about the move to automated and advanced software, some may fear for their livelihoods. Just as in the Industrial Revolution, people fear that automation would replace them, and the same fears pop up when you decide to move beyond QuickBooks. As you begin to communicate your company’s decision to select and implement new software, it’s vital to remind these people that these fears are unfounded.

Automation is going to give your people more freedom to help the business. Without the manual processes that exist, your team will have more time to analyze and deliver insight about data, providing context for decision-making. While some of your staff may need to learn new skills (communication, strategy, creativity, etc.), the decision to implement new ERP software will not result in massive staff cuts or layoffs.

Understand what your people want (and need)

Communication is a two-way street, and possibly the most important part of speaking with your users about this change is to listen. End users are the most heavily affected by a change in technology, and should play a major role in informing the functionality your product will have.

Getting to know what your users want from your QuickBooks replacement will do two things. Not only will this help you to weed out certain products from the outset, it will help to increase optimism about the project. Listening to the wants and needs of your staff will instill a sense of ownership in the project and reduce the likelihood they push back against some decision that didn’t include them.

The long journey to ERP starts with the right information and advice

Over the next few months, we at NexTec look forward to discussing the ongoing path to selecting a replacement for your underperforming QuickBooks product. While getting your users on board for a change is one key part of your decision, you will need to build a project team, discuss internally the budget and opportunities, discuss potential ROI, and more.

For our growing midsized clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our work, compare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

Outgrowing QuickBooks: Securing the go-ahead from the C-suite

Is QuickBooks quick enough to keep up with your growing business?

Is QuickBooks quick enough to keep up with your growing business

Is QuickBooks quick enough to keep up with your growing business?

By | ERP, Replace old software | No Comments
Outgrowing QuickBooks

Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, is the next logical step for growing businesses, allowing you to use a solution that can grow with your company, deliver increased functionality, and ease any growing pains that come about.

If you’re like many businesses, you started out with QuickBooks. An easy choice, the software is familiar, reliable, affordable, and easy to use—perfect for entry-level businesses who just need the basics. This software has become a mainstay at your organization and for many years has facilitated your business growth. There comes a time, however, when you begin to realize that you aren’t an early-stage business with basic accounting needs.

This is an exciting time for your company, however, now is not the time to rest on your laurels. Your “small business agility” got you where you are today, but if you hope to keep up the pace when you are ‘not so small’, you need data at your fingertips. While QuickBooks was able to get you to where you are today, there comes a time when you need more than accounting software.

The right tool for your journey: Fully-featured enterprise resource planning software

QuickBooks, whether you are using the desktop version, enterprise version, or QuickBooks Online, is designed to be an accounting software—great for small businesses with limited needs and accountants who need to complete simple tasks. Knowing this, while the product may make life easy when you have one, five, or ten users who only need to close the books each month, you are entering a stage in which you need more.

For example, this time last year, if a salesperson needed to check on the available inventory or a customer credit line, it was simple—send an email and get a response within minutes. Now, the number of salespeople has increased along with the number of customers—getting this information isn’t as easy. From here, filing the expense reports for your salespeople or staff adds another layer of complexity; what once was a simple email with receipts is now dozens of receipts, an expense policy, and a lot of extra work to see if each hotel stay and meal is reimbursable.

Say you need to generate a report for your board, an investor, or the CFO. How long will it take to complete and will it be 100% accurate when it’s done?  Start adding locations, working in different currencies and tax codes, and you realize, “we need more.”

Is it time for ERP?

For many small businesses, choosing QuickBooks was a rite of passage and honestly, the product is still the ideal small business solution. Much like your first apartment out of college, the software served its purpose. But now your family has grown and your needs have evolved; you need something that can deliver.

Enterprise resource planning software, or ERP, is the next logical step for growing businesses, allowing you to use a solution that can grow with your company, deliver increased functionality, and ease any growing pains that come about.

You need more reporting

As your business grows, you need to act fast if you hope to capitalize on an opportunity. Knowing this, you can’t afford to wait hours or even days to collect data, organize it, and turn it into something useful—you need information now.

One of the biggest benefits of moving to an enterprise resource planning solution is its ability to leverage real-time reporting and business intelligence, bringing together a wide range of data points to empower decision makers and make reporting easy.

So many spreadsheets

Excel is one of those tools that works well when you don’t need to process a lot of information. Once your business grows, it becomes harder and harder to organize your financials in these personal productivity tools.

  • Need to use data from another application? Spreadsheet.
  • Need to create a report? Spreadsheet.
  • Need to close the books? Spreadsheet.

With spreadsheets being so common in your accounting, you are getting neither the accuracy, timeliness, or visibility you need. If 88% of spreadsheets have errors, how can you be sure you are even making a decision with the right information? ERP is designed to handle the entirety of your business processing, automating a wide range of formerly manual processes and providing accuracy.

Audit ready?

When you’re buried in spreadsheets, you barely have enough information to make a managerial decision; considering yourself audit ready is a whole different ballgame. Growing companies face new risks and scrutiny, and having both a strong audit trail and clear picture of where you stand is critical. Another key benefit of ERP is its ability to provide both an audit trail and offer audit-ready financial statements, allowing you to rest easy knowing that changes are tracked and reports can handle scrutiny.

Outgrowing QuickBooks: your next steps

When you begin to outgrow QuickBooks, you are facing one of the most exciting challenges that exists. It means that your business has grown and you are ready for a solution that can take you to the next level. NexTec helps organizations just like you to move beyond QuickBooks and into a more robust accounting and ERP software designed to meet the needs of your business today, tomorrow, and ten years from now.

For our growing small and mid-size (SMB) clients, we recommend Acumatica, a solution that features flexible deployment, scalable resource-based pricing, and the functionality and usability you need. We invite you to learn more about our work, compare QuickBooks to Acumatica using this helpful tool, and contact us to discuss your needs and learn more about your next steps.

Additional QuickBooks migration resources

Outgrowing QuickBooks: Securing the go-ahead from the C-suite

Outgrowing QuickBooks: The early stages of communicating a change

Now available: How to measure ERP ROI

ROI in ERP: Clearing up the mysteries

By | Acumatica Cloud ERP, ERP, Replace old software | No Comments

An ERP project is a significant investment of time and resources, and you need to make your decision with as much confidence and knowledge about the project as possible. You can’t afford a blind spot, a surprise cost, an overrun, or any other common reason that an ERP project gets derailed. Making the decision requires planning and execution: you need justification, you need honest answers, and you need a partner whom you can hold accountable as they help you deploy and implement your software.

While we hope to be that partner, and are confident that we can be, we want you to get as much information as possible before you make your final decisions. This is why we would like to share with you two in-depth guides from our friends at Acumatica, designed to help you forge confidently ahead as you make your decision.

These two guides, the ERP project justification and the Seven hidden costs of ERP implementation will help you understand some of the risks and rewards as you move ahead with your ERP project.

ERP project justification

Even a back office project like ERP needs to pay for itself at some point. From cost savings to labor savings to avoidance of indirect costs, there are many opportunities for the project to break even quickly and start paying for itself. The Acumatica guide to ERP project justification can help you weigh your options, calculating costs, benefits, and more, including cost savings, cost avoidance, increased revenue, and higher profit.

Among the other benefits contributing to your return on an ERP investment:

  • Greater coordination of resources to deliver the right products in the right quantities at the right time
  • Greater visibility to demand and schedules
  • Better management of workflow and production schedules
  • Closer management of materials, equipment, and personnel

There are indirect benefits, too, which might prove unexpectedly valuable to your business:

  • Increased productivity from employee job satisfaction
  • Reliable processing and fewer surprises due to stable scheduling
  • Improved marketing and product deployment because of market analysis and information

Download the Enterprise Resource Planning Return on Investment guide today.

Download now

Seven hidden costs of an ERP implementation to watch for

With a project as complex as an ERP implementation, there are many places that unscrupulous vendors and channel partners may hide costs, add gray areas, and ultimately blindside a company with buried fees and labor costs. This guide, 7 hidden costs of ERP, will discuss with you expenses you may not expect during an implementation project, most notably:

  • Time: It takes time to plan, implement, understand, and use new solutions.
  • Training: Existing employees will need to be trained or retrained in system use, development, and documentation.
  • Tailoring: As your business changes, so will the way ERP can help streamline your business processes, and customization can require additional time and retraining.

While there are many other places costs can occur, these are three of the most common complaints and horror stories we’ve heard about unscrupulous partners and project derailments. We welcome you to learn more: download the Guide to hidden ERP costs.

Download now

Closing in on implementation: Forge confidently ahead with expert advice

As you close in on your final ERP decision, it’s important to have the advice from a partner who has been there before. As a leading Acumatica partner, we have helped companies of all sizes, focuses, and industries to implement award-winning ERP software from Acumatica, avoiding the hidden costs and reaping the rewards. Contact us to learn more.