Category

Replace old software

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.

New guides available: Tips for selecting your ERP system

Two guides discuss how to whittle down your ERP shortlist

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

The right ERP system can position your business for success. The wrong one can hold your organization back, swamping employees and end users with laborious manual work and inefficient processes that prevent them from informing the decisions of business leaders. Knowing that the ERP decision, deployment, and implementation process is one of the most complex tasks that a company can complete, it pays to do it right the first time, so that you aren’t having this discussion in two years.

In our last article, we discussed how to identify when it’s time to make a move to a new ERP system and how to decide whether the cloud is right for you, and today, we would like to share with you some insider knowledge on narrowing down your list of potential vendors and selecting an ERP software that fits your needs.

How to find an ERP solution that fits your business needs

Many ERP systems are similar—offering similar benefits, features, and functionality, but as they say, “the devil is in the details.” With so many moving parts in ERP, a single function can save tens of hours each week for some organizations while missing a feature imperative to others.

These small differences add up, and over time, departments will weigh in on what they need and how to provide it to them with the ERP solution that meets their needs. From here, you need to weigh the pros and cons they present in order to make an informed decision. This is why we would like to share with you this guide, How to Find Out What ERP Best Fits Your Needs, designed to help you weed out incorrect fits and choose the option best for your business. This guide will help you to assess an ERP system for the following five promises:

  • Functionality: Does it fit the usability needs of your industry and business?
  • Product maturity: Does it have a track record of reliability?
  • Software provider: Are they a stable company that will be around for the long haul?
  • Community: Is there a community consisting of implementation and consulting partners, satisfied users, as well as user groups, discussion threads, and conferences?
  • Truth in advertising: Are you being low-balled into accepting an inferior product?

Get more information on making a smarter ERP decision by downloading How to find out what ERP best fits your needs for free.

Download now

10 tips for smarter ERP selection

You’re not the only one who thinks your business is the best at what it does. Your potential ERP vendor does as well. While many are happy to say that they are the best at what they do, as we said before, the right solution for one company might not be the right solution for yours. The Acumatica guide, 10 Tips for Smarter ERP Selection shares the ten most important things you need to consider when evaluating vendors, sharing with you how to:

  • Know the big issues
  • Make a list and check it twice
  • Focus
  • Zero in
  • Recognize that easy-to-use is not a cliché
  • Get the full price
  • Check references
  • Control the demo
  • Not be penny wise and pound foolish
  • Put your “A” team on the project

Learn more about narrowing down your list with the free Acumatica guide, 10 Tips for Smarter ERP Selection.

Download now

The decision is yours: Get expert advice from NexTec

While you can’t hang your hat on two guides, these are good starting points as you look to narrow down your list of vendors from ten to two to one. As you make the move to select your next ERP vendor, the most important thing to remember is this: avoid the hype. If you have any questions during your ERP journey, we welcome you to contact us with any questions that may arise.

New guide available: When should you replace your ERP?

How do you know when it’s time to replace your ERP?

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

Sometimes, making a switch is easy. However, as is the case in replacing an aging enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, making a replacement is akin to a heart replacement. Just as the human body can’t survive without a heart, the modern business can’t survive without an ERP solution, and making a replacement for either is complex, but in some cases is absolutely necessary to the long-term health of the patient.

The difference however, between a heart replacement and an ERP replacement is that the supply of hearts is limited—there’s probably only one heart available that’s a match—there are many different ERP options with many different people holding opinions on which one is “right.” In this, you will hear a lot of noise from end users, decision influencers, vendors, partners, and more on how to proceed and what to select. This is why we would like to share with you two new guides to help you know when it’s time to upgrade your ERP system and whether the Cloud is the right deployment option for your business.

Is now the time to replace your ERP solution?

Whether you’ve outgrown or outlived the life of your current ERP system, you will start to notice that once-easy tasks are now taking a long time to process and complete. Once you start to see these failures, two of the most dangerous courses of action are a) inaction, and b) hastily jumping into an ERP decision.

This is why it pays to be proactive, knowing the warning signs before they start to cripple your business so that you can start the discussion before it’s too late. This guide, When should you replace your ERP system, shares the warning signs, including:

  • It does not support the needs of the business (lacks functionality, is hard to use, response time is too slow)
  • Operating costs are too high
  • You rely on spreadsheets to get things done
  • Executives get little useful insight from the system (lack of dashboards, self-service BI, or they are difficult to use)

Additionally, this guide shares some of the basic benefits of what a modern ERP solution can do for your business:

  • Increase sales and improve customer service
  • Improve cash management and reduce outstanding receivables
  • Reduce purchasing and production costs; increase efficiency
  • Improve inventory turnover
  • Better utilize people, equipment, and materials

Download the free When It’s Time to Upgrade Your ERP System guide to learn more.

Download guide

Is the Cloud the right deployment option for ERP?

If you’ve realized that now is the time to make a move, the next decision is on the deployment model: Cloud, Hosted, or On-Premises. From personal use to multinational enterprise, the cloud has become a major talking point, especially as it pertains to ERP. This guide, Is the Cloud Right for My Business, shares a few considerations you need to make if you are considering the cloud for your ERP system.

Among the takeaways:

  • When done right, a cloud ERP deployment should be invisible to system users
  • When looking at software, consider the software first, then the deployment option. Making the deployment option first limits your software choices, and could trap you with the wrong software.
  • Cloud computing doesn’t necessarily cost less (or more) than conventional on-premise deployment.

To learn more, download the entire guide, Should I Move My ERP to the Cloud.

Download guide

Getting the answers: Speak with an expert today

As we mentioned above, the most dangerous course of action is a hasty decision. The second most dangerous is inaction. This is why it’s important to start looking at options now, so you know what questions to ask and to prepare for pitfalls and challenges that come with every ERP deployment and implementation. If you have any questions about the move to ERP, contact NexTec Group for information, or learn more about Acumatica.

ERP solution

Your definitive guide to Cloud ERP, part 1: Removing the fog from the Cloud

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

Cloud tools give your employees access to shared data and systems wherever they are and on any device.

Cloud technology is a critical transformative opportunity for businesses that rely on multiple users of multiple computing systems. Cloud-based services provide significant advantages for decision-makers, can reduce operating costs, and improve overall efficiency and integration.

Understanding the ways cloud computing can improve your business, the types of cloud services and how to best use cloud technology can help determine the best solutions for your organization.

Cloud computing refers to location-independent technology that uses remote platforms to deliver software services, storage, and systems. The technology allows for scalable IT systems growth and delivery models that allow for flexibility and customization.

In Your Definitive Guide to Cloud ERP – Part 1 – Removing the Fog from the Cloud, we take a closer look at how to understand the benefits of cloud computing and the types of functionality available.

The unknown versus the unknowable

Businesses want to mitigate risk and understand as many variables as possible when evaluating new business processes. The desire for cloud computing may seem good in concept but risky in practice.

However, cloud computing actually provides more certainty and predictability, especially for growing companies. Cloud computing allows for rapid scalability without the need for significant lags in technology deployment. It provides predictable financial planning with services that will grow as the company grows. It also provides your system administrators and IT teams with more flexibility to integrate systems in a shared space where software tools can more easily share information.

For companies with a high level of customized features in various software products, cloud computing allows for modifications to be delivered quickly to end users without the expensive tasks of individualized deployment and training.

Key advantages to cloud computing

Here are some of the core advantages to using cloud computing:

  1. Reduced computing costsWith cloud computing, there’s no need for large capital expenditures for hardware and software. Predictable technology costs allow for more accurate forecasting. In addition, cloud computing reduces the need for IT staff on premises to maintain servers, install software and updates and troubleshoot. Finally, there are fewer space demands for servers and utility costs for keeping server rooms cool and secure.
  2. ScalabilityWith cloud computing, your server, storage, and user needs can be addressed as your business grows. There is no need to overspend on unused capacity or to have expansion delayed due to the inability to expand infrastructure fast enough.
  3. ReliabilityCloud computing provides nearly always-on capabilities through built-in redundancies. Your data and systems are backed up so that server maintenance does not force your company’s systems to be offline very often if at all.
  4. Centralized dataCloud platforms allow for your data to be in one and accessible in consistent formats among multiple users. It also easily integrates data and reporting with common applications, such as Outlook and Microsoft Office. This provides one version of the truth because the data is centralized.
  5. Mobile access. Cloud-based systems make it much easier for employees to access systems and data from remote locations and from mobile devices. This flexibility, especially with remotely based consultants, employees or suppliers, means more efficiency and access. Collaboration is better, too, with teams located around the world able to work from the same information simultaneously and in real time.
  6. Greener operations. Your company’s carbon footprint is far less with fewer shared server space. There’s no need to install on-site systems in multiple locations, with the requisite cooling costs and environmental impact.
  7. Improved security. Top cloud computing providers offer virtual and physical security that would be costly for in-house operations. Redundant storage, top-flight data protections and backup plans and equipment to ensure business continuity give you peace of mind. Even in natural disasters, your company can continue to operate seamlessly from anywhere.
  8. Better customer service. With reliable systems and data, your team can respond to customer needs, issues and concerns promptly and in real time from multiple locations, multiple users and comprehensively.
  9. Simpler, faster deployment. Cloud solutions mean that new tools can be used faster, with less need for implementation time, build-outs, capital spends, and additional staff. Cloud resources can be deployed rapidly.

Types and functions of cloud services

There are several different models for cloud computing services. Here is a look at the major differences in types of cloud services:

  • Public. A public cloud is a bit of a misnomer but refers to those services where the computing infrastructure is shared among multiple clients of the providing cloud company. Servers, storage, and data are stored at off-site locations and the client has no physical control of the infrastructure. Public clouds are less expensive but run a higher security risk, given the higher number of users.
    Public systems are also not conducive the software systems that are highly customizable or need to be integrated with other packages.
  • Private. In private cloud structures, there is one client, customer or organization using the off-premises cloud services. The services are not shared with any other customer. Security is better with limited access to the cloud servers and data. This also provides more flexibility for customizations, plugins, and integrations to other systems.
  • Hybrid. Companies may choose to keep some services on-premises, such as customer service or financial systems, while other software tools may be stored on private or public servers. Others may choose to keep systems on a combination of public and private cloud systems.

Functionality is another key factor in determining which type of cloud services to consider. Here are the main functions that are increasingly migrating to cloud solutions:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS). If you use Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, or any number of other commercial services that provide access to applications and storage, you are using SaaS tools. Designed largely for end users, SaaS functions provide multiple users to access data and perform tasks. Some customer relationship management, project management, and financial management software packages are using SaaS delivery models. The advantages are considerable: IT staff don’t need to install updates on every end client machine or device, data is shared commonly and training can be delivered uniformly to all users.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS). These services are used for application development and deployment platforms. When a company needs to use operating systems, programming languages, databases and web servers, this model is ideal and primarily used by developers. It allows for frequent operating system upgrades and collaborative programming development across multiple people or teams. Services can come from multiple sources and be integrated here.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This is the most common cloud structure. It provides ample storage capacity and virtual server space for companies to use for multiple functionalities.
Cloud ERP

Cloud computing offers cost and staff savings and flexible growth.

Enterprise resource planning and the cloud

For manufacturers, financial services companies and communications companies, enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a powerful option. With ERP systems, companies can integrate systems across the company, from marketing and sales to finance to operations to distribution.

Cloud ERP is growing among manufacturers. A seminal Gartner study that examined cloud ERP adoption through 2023 had some powerful findings:

  • 47 percent of organizations expected to move to cloud ERP solutions by 2019. Twenty-six percent expected to have cloud ERPs by the end of 2016.
  • Small and midsized companies were embracing cloud ERP solutions at a greater rate than larger entities.
  • Cloud ERP adoption within five years was highest among organizations based in Asia and the Pacific Rim (more than 60 percent), followed by North America (55 percent) and Europe and the Middle East (50 percent).

There are occasions when on-premises ERP solutions make sense. In some cases, regulatory requirements disallow off-site installations. If users have limited or slow internet access or there are extensive customizations, then an on-site solution is also likely the better option.

Consider, however, the technical advantages of a cloud ERP solution. As the below chart indicates, the ease of use, costs, and flexibility are significantly improved in the cloud.

 Technology On Premises Cloud
Mobile devlces Retrofiting for limited functions Built-in functionality
Hardware On-site Remotely stored
Hardware maintenance Your responsibility Provider responsibility
Addtl. hardware capability You purchase upgrades Included in subscription
Application software Installed on your servers Provider responsibility
Software maintenance/upgrades Your IT team installs, manages bug fixes Provider responsibility
Preferred deployment On your servers On provider servers
Optional deployment  None In private cloud or on your servers

 

We work closely with companies to identify their ERP needs and recommend the proper and appropriate solution. Our consultants have deep product knowledge of many ERP solutions, including top options such as Sage X3 Cloud, Acumatica Cloud, and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

If you’re considering a cloud ERP solution for your company, learn how NexTec can help you find and implement the right product for your needs. For more information about NexTec, download the NexTec Corporate Brochure.