With a global pandemic sending the world into a spin, flexible arrangements including working from home have become the new norm.  Initially, individuals invested in home office equipment, including desks, chairs and workstations to continue work as usual. As we slowly see the ease of restrictions and people return to offices, it is clear that flexible work options may be hear to stay.

The forced requirement to work from home has highlighted the benefits and ability of staff to maintain productivity whether they are at home or in the office.  As a result, the need for cloud-based solutions has increased to allow access to data from any location.

What are the benefits of cloud-based software?

One of the biggest challenges companies face is access to accurate data.  Research from Frost & Sullivan research reports that 75 per cent of Australia and New Zealand organisations are not confident that their data is accurate, complete and timely. This leads to an inability to respond to customer requests in real-time, along with poor workplace communication, resulting in lost customers and lack of productivity.

Over 80 per cent of organisations believe that better management of data would lead to improved customer experience, better business intelligence and better decision making. This is the benefit cloud-based software offers.

Why should you adopt cloud-based software like NetSuite?

With a global pandemic shaking up the economy and the workplace environment, the way businesses engage both with staff and their customers has taken a drastic turn. With no vaccine likely for the foreseeable future, it’s safe to say social distancing and the ability to work from home has sparked a new era of agile workplaces that is here to stay.

For businesses, cloud-based software offers the following:

Integration: customers are now, more than ever, looking for a completely online experience, which requires integration from the order through to purchase and then fulfilment. An authentic Omnichannel experience is possible with cloud-based software.

Choice: with the economy taking a turn, purse strings have tightened, and people are now more discerning about what they buy. They are looking for choice, and the ability to personalise their order to their desire, all done online with fast delivery.

Experience: one of the stand out challenges businesses face is how to improve the customer experience. In light of COVID-19, the ability to connect with the customer online is now more critical than ever. By providing a positive customer experience, you can create new growth opportunities. Cloud-based software offers this with real-time integrated and well-managed data.

Efficiency: there is a need for organisations to become more efficient and effective when it comes to dealing with customers through their buying cycle. Cloud-based software offers the ability to automate the customer interaction with back-office functions, to provide a 24/7 service at a low cost.

Flexibility: with working from home the new norm, there is an increased need to offer employees the right tools to perform their jobs. Cloud-based software connects everyone in the office and enables increased communication with access to required documents, from anywhere, at any time.

Speed: cloud solutions are fast to implement, with cost models that are directly related to activity and size—thus enabling growth and controlling costs.

What are the specific advantages of NetSuite when working from home?

Easy access to data: no matter where staff are located, data is always available and accessible. This enables a fast response for both customer information and reporting purposes.

Easy to expand: as your organisation grows, you can grow with it, increasing the number of users as you go. It means you can have employees placed anywhere around the world, at home or the office, all with the same access to the platform, making full use of its functionality.

Easy to implement: by adopting the best practices, the solution can be implemented quickly and easily. You are presented with a unique opportunity to take advantage of global best practices and apply these to your organisation to see the NetSuite and running as quickly as possible.

Easy on expenditure: you can keep costs low with no infrastructure costs, no need for expensive IT specialists and no upgrade fees. Cloud-based software costs are licence based, avoiding carrying capital costs on the balance sheet and delivering fast return on investment.  This is particularly important if your businesses has been significantly impacted by Covid-19.

Easy to access: NetSuite can be accessed anywhere, anytime on most devices. In the current COVID-19 pandemic, it offers your employees to the freedom to work from home and safely self-isolate, while still having access to all the materials they need. As the world begins to reopen in time, it offers flexibility for people to travel and work offsite as required.

While Australia is slowly opening back up again and kicking the economy into gear, it is clear that the effect of lockdown will be long-lasting, changing the way organisations operate and communicate with their customers. With information comes a unique ability to adapt and pivot in line with these changes, offering flexibility to employees and the ability to perform their job from anywhere. NetSuite is the tool that will allow your organisation to create a competitive advantage and withstand any future disruptions.

In March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic sent our economy into free fall. Now, just three months later we are starting to come out the other side and businesses are beginning to reopen once again.

For businesses, what started as a problem could be an opportunity—a valuable chance to reassess your strategy and operations to place yourself on the road to recovery.

To do this, businesses need to take decisive action focussing on areas such as their business model, cash flow, health and safety, forecasting, customer relationships, packaging/pricing/payments and business alignment.

Is your business model still relevant?

An essential first step is to take a look at your business and assess what has and has not changed due to the pandemic.  Due to restrictions, many companies were forced to rethink their business models to survive.  Many had to move to online sales and expand into new markets.  Businesses need to review their current business models, their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and how they have changed in the aftermath of Covid-19. This will give you a good understanding of where you are now, what changes have worked, what hasn’t and what needs to happen next.

Determine how customer behaviour may have changed due to the pandemic. Which of your customer segments are still buying and still engaged? Once you know where the sales are currently coming from, focus your resources into this area. It can also help to talk to your customers and prospects, listen to their concerns and challenges and see if you can meet them.

Where does your cashflow stand right now? 

Take the time to check in on your cash flow and where it stands right now. Use past data to run multiple scenarios, assuming:

1. Your sales don’t pick up again for the rest of the year.
2. This revenue shortfall persists into 2021.
3. The decline in revenue accelerates through the end of the year.

By examining these scenarios, you can plan and manage expectations of what is to come, to get your business through to the next stage. If you are a venture-backed company, talk to your investors about raising additional funds, or investigate venture debt to keep you going in the current climate.

How has the pandemic impacted your health, safety and legal requirements?

The way your business operates will undergo some change as a result of the pandemic.  For some businesses, changes are required to maintain social distancing.  For others, it may require significant re-organisation and change to the way they do business. All businesses must be aware of all health, safety and legal issues that could arise with the return to work in terms of customers, employees and suppliers. You will need to introduce a Covid-19 safety management plan which may include changes to the working environment, the addition of sanitation products as implementing signage to reinforce the requirements for employees to return to work safely.

Technology can be a tremendous asset during this period, allowing the introduction of a contact tracing application and other such health and safety measures. Consider all scenarios and play them out. What will you do if an employee contracts Covid-19? How will you communicate with the rest of the office? It’s essential to make sure you stay up to date with changing government guidelines at all times.

Take a fresh look at your forecasts

Forecasting is hard enough, let alone during such uncertain times. Your business needs to take a fresh look at its forecast for sales, expenses and cash flow and update your assumptions based on figures from the past few months. Model the cash flow, burn rate and liquidity under multiple scenarios: if the revenue declines 20% for the rest of the year; or 30%; or 50%.

All payments and costs within the business need to be reassessed. This includes taking a look at bonuses, commission rates and salaries. Think about your supply chains and whether they have been impacted and what this means for future sales. Your forecasting needs to delve further into other risks to your business, such as new interruptions, employees getting sick and health outbreaks.

Customer relationships are critical at this point

While this may seem difficult in the current climate, customer relationships need to be a priority. Whether you are selling a product or a service, you need to maintain and build on existing customer relationships.

This doesn’t always mean trying to sell more to your current customer base.  It’s about being empathetic to the current needs of your customer base and reaching out to those who may be doing it tough. Customer relationships are built on the principles of know, like and trust. By reaching out during a time of need, and offering your help and support, you can build strong customer loyalty and ensure those customers will come back. Actions like this will be key to the growth of your business as things open up.

How can you re-package your product or service to improve your offering?

Now is the time to take a fresh look at your product or service and to reassess your offer.

Think for the long term about how you can continue to add value for your customers without losing them. Here are some things to think about:

  • Can you offer a bundling package for your products and services? This increases loyalty while still protecting your margins.
  • Can you offer a discount? This can draw demand and even bring in new customers currently on the fence.
  • Do you offer payment term flexibility? Allowing people to pay online or make use of services such as Afterpay can benefit your business.

Get everyone focused on the task at hand

Once you have gone through your business and seen where you currently stand and what actions you plan to take for the future, it is a chance to get your business aligned and focused. Adopt an open communication policy in the workplace with employees, partners and customers. Customer experience and gratification are important for your success, especially in these challenging times. In fact, with Covid-19, the customer is the only thing that matters.

Remember, everyone is feeling unsure in these times. From your employees through to suppliers, the whole world has been affected by this pandemic. By being open and honest, you are letting people know what they can expect and share a clear vision moving forward. This is both motivating and reassuring, giving your business the best step forward.

During times of uncertainty, such as those that we are experiencing now, it is more important than ever to be able to adapt quickly to any changes that take place. Being able to adapt is possible if you have the right inventory management solution in place.

Starting A New Business

While it might seem counter-intuitive to be starting a business during the Coronavirus pandemic, there are still market opportunities.  The same issues still affect new businesses now as they did before such as building market share, setting up shop (probably online), finding staff, choosing product lines and then attracting customers.

Once this period of your business settles down, you may need to look into scaling up, expanding into other markets, building customers and more.

Growing your business may involve:

  • Expanding into new locations
  • Selling more online
  • Taking on new product lines and suppliers
  • Creating more robust alignments with suppliers
  • Developing a ‘leaner’ inventory approach (i.e., reducing inventory levels while minimising stock-outs).
  • Finding new ways to drive costs out of the distribution process

It is during this phase of your business planning that you need to be investing in the right inventory management solution to meet your current needs, and adapt to any changing needs as your business grows. That technology needs to be flexible, scalable, adaptable and cloud-based.

Easing Distributor Pain Points With Technology

As a distributor, one of your goals is achieving optimal inventory levels, but this is a delicate balance. If you buy too little, you end up with stock-outs, buy too much, and your carrying costs go up.

By implementing the right technology, you can put in place a good management strategy that satisfies customer demands, while also reducing (or eliminating):

  • High inventory costs
  • Uncertainty due to fluctuations in demand
  • Risk of loss
  • Stock-outs
  • Inventory turnover rates
  • Unnecessary order duplications
  • High levels of working capital tied up in inventory
  • Excessive storage costs
  • Imbalanced shipment lead times
  • Lost customers
  • Loss of materials due to carelessness or pilferage

These problems can contribute to substantial financial losses for your business. But the good news – they can be avoided using a scalable inventory management platform that provides information in real-time.

This includes product ordering, storage and control, ensuring you have the right quantities in the right place at the right time. You can monitor the movement of every product from distributor to end-user, with detailed record-keeping provided for every product.

The History Of Good Inventory Management

If you leave your inventory management to chance, it will not only tie up cash in your business but will likely have negative financial consequences for you.

For example: when you overstock in anticipation of future demand, you take the risk that your business is left with ‘dead stock’. This consumes working capital and also uses physical space just sitting there. There is no guarantee that you will be able to move these products in the future.

On the other hand, if you don’t hold enough inventory, you risk running out when your customer’s ask for the goods. This has now left you with lost business and unhappy customers, who may choose not to buy from you again.

In the past, companies have tried to avoid either of these two scenarios by performing physical warehouse counts, which are then reconciled against paper or batch-based systems. Most businesses would perform these checks on a scheduled basis, using the results to updated inventory figures.

The Problem With Out-Dated Technology

You’re all too aware that at some point, your business will outgrow the technology you started with. Whether you are looking to upgrade as your business has grown, or are looking to integrate systems.

Here are some telltale signs that your inventory management system isn’t working:

  • Complicated, time-consuming inventory reconciliation process.
  • Overstocking to ensure that the right amount of product is on-hand when needed.
  • Always having to manually change physical counts to reflect actual in-stock positions.
  • Mismanaged inventory levels
  • High levels of human error (i.e., due to manual data entry processes).
  • Inability to handle an increased number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) as your distributorship grows.
  • No metrics to leverage to confidently optimise inventory.
  • Too much obsolete inventory in the warehouse or distribution centre (DC).
  • Poor demand forecasting.

Whatever the reason, the last thing you want is to be spending time and money manually changing all this over. You also can’t afford to work with a solution that doesn’t adjust to your current and future technology needs. For a company that is growing, the right technology can help gain better economies of scale and improve processes with less human labour.

These days, scalable software exists to do all of this for you, updating in real-time with information readily shares with all users and stakeholders across multiple business units and locations.

Introducing Scalable Software

When it comes to the software realm, the word ‘scalable’ refers to the fact that the system doesn’t need to be redesigned to maintain its high performance when its workload increases.

Whether your business is growing and you have more users on the system, or there is a need for higher storage capacity or any other event that pushes the software past the capacity it was introduced in, the software will change with your company.

There are so many benefits that come with this. If you are just starting or moving into a new market, you can choose a scalable inventory management solution that provides what you need at that point in time. This lowers your costs and means less user trainer. As you grow, the software will adapt to your business. It keeps the complexities to a minimum while leaving the door open for changing requirements – all without a high upfront investment.

Start Slow

When it comes to introducing scalable software into your business, the idea is to walk, then crawl, then run. Using a step-by-step approach, you will be building your inventory management system on a strong foundation and set yourself up for future success in the process.

Once in place, you will reap the benefits of full visibility into your inventory, affording you the ability to make fast, accurate decisions in regards to the allocation of orders and products. To find the right inventory management system for you, it’s essential to assess your current needs and plans for future growth.

Here are some key questions to ask:

1. What are we using right now, and how is it working for us?
2. What are our current solutions’ limitations?
3. What will we need one to five years from now?

Whether you are just starting, or are looking to branch out into a broader market, an automated inventory system that you can build upon along the way will make all the difference.

Armed with accurate inventory data that is recorded, tracked and optimised, enables you to reduce costs, minimise waste, meet customers’ expectations and predict future demands. You can protect yourself from fluctuations in demand, reduce the risk of loss, minimise administrative workloads and avoid ordering duplications. Most importantly, you can ensure your customers get their shipments on time, which is a must for any growing distributor.

Categories
NetSuite

Managing business uncertainty during a crisis.

Tiernan OConnor
May 7th, 2020

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Change is a constant in business. When faced with exceptional events, as we have seen with the COVID-19 global pandemic, it is up to leaders to take a hard look at their tools, systems, process and strategies to redirect and get back on the path of success.

Steering a company during these challenging and uncertain times involves focusing on three things:

Visibility: what can you see right now?
Control: what can you control right now?
Agility: how agile can you be right now?

Not all businesses are affected equally during adverse times, but this framework will benefit leaders who understand they must significantly change their approach to keep the company as healthy as possible.Visibility: What can you see right now?

While access to capital is important at all times, it is even more so during a crisis. If your supply chain has been disrupted, this will have an immediate effect on your cash flow. With no reserves on hand to access, liquidity can become a problem.

If you are going through challenging times, the first thing to do is take a stock of resources on hand, liabilities and outstanding receivables. Based on this information you can take a guess estimate of how much cash you will need to sustain operations for various time frames. Consider how long it will be before you will be back to operating as normal, and factor this into your estimates.

With up-to-date information on hand you can determine what steps need to be taken to keep the business as healthy as possible.

Here is a visibility checklist to help you out:

  • Update your balance sheet to determine total assets.
  • Determine liabilities, considering which payments can be put off.
  • Determine your short-term cash requirements.
  • Evaluate receivables in light of current businesses conditions.
  • Play out most-likely scenarios based on the figures on hand to quantify the impact to your profit and loss, cash flow and balance sheet of short, medium and long-term disruptions.

Control: What can you control right now?

While it can be all too tempting to focus on the negatives of your situation and things that are out of your hands, it is much more practical to focus on the areas you can control. There are three key areas to draw your attention to:

Process

Many businesses operate on a 12-month budget cycle, but when faced with unforeseen challenges, the focus needs to shift to immediate priorities. Make payroll, cut costs and maintain liquidity.

The key is communication; the more you establish clear goals and objectives, the more your team understands where they stand and what they need to do. Now is the time to eliminate any inefficiencies by redesigning poor processes and automating tasks. This will put your company in a better position for long-term growth.

Performance

When faced with economic uncertainty, monitoring key performance indicators is vitally important. It needs to be done in real-time, so you can see what is happening as it happens and spot any issues while there is still time adjust.

  • Make sure you address any late customer payments as quickly as possible, understanding they may also be affected.
  • If you products and/or services are still in demand, ensure you can keep up supply.
  • Look at your gross profit margin, customer satisfaction and general and administrative costs as a percentage of your current revenue.

People

When critical events occur, it can throw chaos into the wind with your employees and affect their productivity. Communication is key. Let them know what is happening, even when the news isn’t good. They will appreciate knowing the truth and knowing where they stand in the crisis. Retaining your employees will put you in a much better position moving forward. Here are some things to consider:

  • If you need to cut down on labour costs, consider cutting hours or offering unpaid leave rather than layoffs. You can even look at reducing salaries based on ranges, so the lowest paid are least effected.
  • Look at any Government programs that can help, like the ones mentioned above for the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • If you do need to lay off workers, look at what support you can offer them.

Agility: How agile can you be right now?

It’s important to remember that while crises are challenging, they don’t last forever. Eventually, you will find a new normal at the end of it, and it is a matter of positioning yourself for success for when opportunities appear.

By following the steps above, you will now have a hand on the short-term issues. Now is it time to think of the future. A slowdown in the company could be the perfect opportunity to implement new and innovative ideas. You need to time your investments with an eye toward recovery, so you are in a position to take full advantage of the growth that will inevitably return.

Here are is a checklist to help you prepare:

  • Speak to your employees. They know your business, they know your customers and may have some great ideas.
  • Think about areas you can train your employees, so they have new skills when growth returns.
  • Look at new ways to combine your products and services and how to enhance them.
  • Rethink pricing strategies. Look at how software companies are succeeding with product-led growth.
  • Analyse new markets you could break into.
  • Wring out as many supply chain inefficiencies as possible.

Where to find help

If you are after some resources to help you plan out different scenarios during COVID-19, check these out:

Struggling to make ends meet? Consider all your options, including:

  • Open conversations with credit providers about cash injections.
  • Speak to your suppliers, landlords, lenders, tax authorities and insurers who all have a vested interested in your business and ask if they may be willing to help.
  • Take a look at any Government Stimulus Packages you qualify for. During COVID-19, Federal Government Programs are helping support Australian businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees through the JobKeeper and JobSeeker Payment Program, Cash Flow Boosts for Employers, Business Investment Backing, Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses. Individual states have also set up their own programs.

Eventually, the crises will come to an end and you will have the opportunity to grow the business. Managing through these times is an art and a science. You need to keep tight control of the cash and eagle eye on the balance sheet. Listen to employees, customers, shareholders and other stakeholders and openly communicate.

You can take some of the guessing out of the equation with NetSuite. We help businesses reduce uncertainty in uncertain times by providing real-time, anywhere, visibility and control of your financials, payroll, projects, inventory and suppliers. With this information, you will be in the best position to make smart decisions with confidence.

Most companies live by the mantra “cash is king”. Cash flow is what keeps a business alive, and is the reason so many businesses fail within the first few years.

It’s also the reason that accounting software is one of the first pieces of business software companies purchase. But is this the right choice for every business? If your business manages inventory and distribution, you need to consider how you are going to manage your financials and inventory for the longer term. Ask yourself, how will you manage your financials as your business grows?  What impact will opening a new location or new warehousing facilities have on your current business management software? These issues must be considered when making these decisions when starting your business.

In this article, we take a look at different account software and how effective it is for your business, while also taking into account the changing customer needs as technology advances. It is no secret that companies have changed significantly over the last decade, and the simple truth: if you aren’t keeping up, you are losing out.

Are Accounting Packages worth it?

Standard accounting packages provide basic functionality, offering a chartering of accounts, along with a method of managing relationships with vendors and customers. This is all provided at an attractive price point, making it appear as a practical solution for many businesses in their initial years.

But the truth is, innovations are evolving faster than ever, and with it, so is customer expectations. With competition higher than ever, if you aren’t keeping up with these expectations, it will be a struggle to keep your business afloat.

Times have changed, and the internet is leading the way for the adoption of new business models. Business decisions are now driven by key performance data – rather than historical practices or guesses. Being able to see the critical information you need in real-time can make all the difference to whether your business thrives.

How to Determine if an Accounting System is Failing Your Business

Change doesn’t come easily to everyone, and if you are set in your systems and beliefs, it can be even harder. Whether you find yourself overwhelmed at the daunting task of switching software or simply don’t believe you can find an affordable solution to meet your needs, choosing to just ‘make do’ can be harmful to your business. It can be very costly in the long run.

Here are four signs that your accounting system might be failing your business:

  • It’s too hard to find out what’s happening across your organisation in real-time.
  • Limited visibility into key metrics.
  • Limited functionality that won’t keep pace with modern requirements.
  • Inability to scale as you expand your business to multiple locations.

Finding the right software can be a timely process. You need to consider your business needs and do some research into the different offerings out there. We take a look at one of the most-effective accounting suites that provide a real-time overview of your business and enables you to keep up with the inevitable changes.

Why Choose a Unified Suite?

NetSuite is a powerful cloud solution that offers a unified suite of applications. It provides many benefits, such as linking key business processes together and allowing the whole company to view operations.

By having all inventory and financial data on the same platform, companies are present with a competitive edge. This allows you to plan effectively, execute with a degree of predictability, which in turn minimises labour costs and errors that can occur.

A well-implemented cloud-based system means that financial activities appear as soon as they are triggered. You can also access your account, anywhere, anytime, so decisions can be made quickly. Whether your performance indicators are adverse or favourable, you can act. With NetSuite, you have a clear sight of all the information you need to make decisions in real-time, rather than relying on back-dated information to make guesses for the future. It is the difference between succeeding or losing out.

What is a Cloud Solution?

When you choose a cloud-based vendor for your business, you not only receive the software to use for their business but a service as well. NetSuite takes responsibility for not only the software it supplies but the underlying technical infrastructure needed to access the solution.

That includes the server hardware and database maintenance and administration, document storage, technical upgrades, and the ongoing enhancements customers need. That is an entirely different way of providing a system than what has been traditionally offered where, for all practical purposes, it is the customer’s responsibility to upkeep their systems on infrastructure they must initially purchase, but also maintain.

So, you may be asking, what does this mean for you?

Essentially, a vendor that offers Software-as-a-Service has one goal in mind: to assure their customer’s success. If they don’t, you as the customer will move on to another vendor. This means you can ensure your needs will be met, backed by meaningful service level agreements. It’s a win-win for your business and a significant change from the way things used to operate. Changing to a cloud service offers nothing but benefits.

The User Interface

One of the most daunting aspects that comes with a new program is working out how to use it effectively. It is one thing to adopt new technology for your business, but if you aren’t using it to its full extent, then it is not only a waste of money, but you will once again fall behind.

NetSuite’s dashboard is oriented around a user’s day-to-day tasks, which allows for the most efficient consumption of information throughout the organisation.

Case Study – BajaRack Australia

Take the case study of BajaRack, a DWR client who are a specialist manufacturer, distributor and retailer of 4WD accessories. BajaRack has a head office in San Diego, California with a manufacturing plant in Ensenada, Mexico.  They have a sole distributor in Australia who are based on the NSW Central Coast.

After a soft launch in Australia, BajaRack experienced significant sales growth in a short period of time.  This highlighted their need to find a single, multi-purpose business platform that would allow them to manage stock movements, sales activity, invoicing, warranty information and CRM functionality in one place.  To help with these business issues, they turned to DWR for help.

With NetSuite, Bajarack found a unified, real-time system of record for financials, inventory management, order processing, CRM and eCommerce. The implementation and configuration of NetSuite by DWR completely transformed their business, allowing them to take their business to the next level.

Download a copy of the case study here – BajaRack Case Study.

Make the Move

Take a look at your business technologies as they currently are, and think about where you are losing out. Are you using historical information to make future decisions? Your competition certainly isn’t, so if you want to stay ahead, you shouldn’t be either.

While it can seem daunting at first, once the switch is made, you won’t look back. It will give your business the boost it needs to stand out in a competitive market. It also means that you can keep up with technological innovations, rather than being left behind.

To discuss how NetSuite can help your business grow, email us at info@dwr.com.au or fill out our contact form today.

Whether you are big or small, the challenges faced when growing your professional services business are similar. These challenges come from both inside and outside the organisation.

Inside, two common technology issues put the brakes on growth. The first is an overreliance on spreadsheets; the second is the use of standalone software systems that were developed in-house or introduced to fix a defined business problem.

Outside the organisation, growth can be affected by availability and the ability to retain talent – a challenge which is common in several business sectors. Increased regulations and compliance obligations also place an additional burden on professional services with changes often requiring changes to business systems and processes.

In professional services, technology and people are the keys to success.

When it comes to managing a growing professional services business, the overuse of spreadsheets is a common problem. Don’t get us wrong, spreadsheets are great, and they do their job – to a degree. However, when finance, operations, sales and HR teams all use different systems, different reporting processes and standalone software, business leaders become frustrated that they are unable to view the business as a whole because of the lack of synergy between systems.   This is where a unified system like NetSuite has the advantage.

What is the key to growing a professional services business?

If you are looking to grow your professional services business, you need a clear plan and goal in mind. And you need to look beyond the spreadsheets.

First, you must identify its strategic goal and aims, along with risks and weaknesses. Staffing, technology and focus are the keys to success. Your strategic focus starts with a vision. To begin with, it is better to focus on one or two things that will achieve the vision, rather than diluting the efforts of the business to attempt several objectives.

Today, organisations need partnerships to be successful in achieving their vision. Technology can assist professional services organisations in cementing those partnerships, either through collaboration tools or even sharing of resources. The ability to share information and seamlessly integrate processes between organisations will become more and more useful as the complexity and depth of those partnerships grow.

This integration cannot be achieved by using disparate systems and spreadsheets.  A unified view of the business is required and the ability to share and integrate that information with potential partners.

Enabling growth through existing and new customer acquisition

Growth is achieved by increasing your customer base and identifying new opportunities with existing customers.  This might sound obvious, but what tools are in place to help account managers identify new opportunities?  What visibility do sales staff have over the marketing funnel and what information do they receive to identify opportunities?

Let’s take a look at this process in more detail: consider the customer journey; it starts with an email marketing campaign that is tracked through the sales process using CRM. This then becomes an opportunity, and more information is added to it. This customer information then becomes fundamental in delivering the project. Finally, it ends up with a customer referral for a new opportunity that feeds the marketing engine. With NetSuite, the customer journey can be tracked from the beginning to the end of the engagement giving sales staff a clear view of any new sales opportunities.

It’s true that smaller organisations can run their projects and resources on a single spreadsheet; however, as they grow, this strategy is no longer viable. A modern professional services business needs to look forward, not just for sales and marketing but for resource and talent planning.

Finally, long-term growth comes down to having the right people.  Skills need to be balanced with personality. Marcus Buckingham coined the phrase “Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.” He explained that in checkers, players use pieces that are uniform in nature, in chess, each piece is different, and you need to know how to use each piece to play. It is similar to human management. The former treats people as mere entries on a ledger, the latter as having different skills that will help complete projects. Having managers that understand this and systems to track and complement that knowledge is a must for a growing professional services company.

Having the right people is also part of understanding the project pipeline and its resource requirements.

  • What is in the sales pipeline?
  • What projects are about to be signed off?
  • What resources are required?

The further ahead resourcing managers can see requirements, the more accurate their hiring decisions are. Adopting NetSuite can help bring that information to the managers that need it.

Growing Internationally

 Of course, another growth opportunity is considering entering international markets, but this is difficult unless a degree of preparation has been undertaken. Some of the challenges you will face include cultural differences, language barriers and legal or financial compliance. Localised tax and international and local accounting regulations also need to be met.

A modern cloud-based ERP like NetSuite enables organisations to use a single system across all companies and territories. Consolidation is no longer achieved through spreadsheets and emails, but finance professionals can see across all financial data from countries and see the true cost of delivering multinational projects.

Naturally, technology can’t solve everything, but it can certainly help. As a business, you need to ask continuously: will our current systems and processes cope with our growth? Will they scale—both in size and complexity? An organisation that has its processes defined by spreadsheets will reach a point where processes start to fail. It will need to implement a solution like NetSuite that can automate processes to enable further growth.

How can NetSuite and DWR help?

Implementing new software to support a professional services business is a complex decision.   Not all companies are the same and important consideration needs to be given to a businesses specific requirements and NetSuite should be configured to suit those requirements.

One thing is for sure, heavy reliance on spreadsheets for both reporting and management of projects will stifle growth. The benefits of implementing a unified system such as NetSuite will set a platform to allow professional services businesses to both identify and leverage opportunities in the future.

To discuss how NetSuite can help your business grow, email us at info@dwr.com.au or fill out our contact form today.

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NetSuite

DWR awarded Highest Growth Partner for 2019

Nigel Wooden
February 20th, 2020

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At the 2019 NetSuite ANZ Partner Awards recently, DWR were recognised for their excellence winning the Highest Growth Partner Award for 2019.

The awards were held on Monday 17th February at Squires Landing in Circular Quay at the start of SuiteConnect Sydney.  SuiteConnect brings together hundreds of NetSuite users, partners, press and industry leaders and is regarded as the #1 Cloud ERP event in our region.

Speaking of the win, Nigel Wooden said “It’s fantastic to be recognised for the projects we have worked on in 2019.  2019 was a great year for us and our team work tirelessly to deliver solid outcomes for our clients. This is great recognition for their effort”

We have received some great media coverage regarding the award:

DWR are looking forward to continuing their growth in 2020.

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NetSuite

ERP Software or Accounting Software: Which Is Better?

Nigel Wooden
February 1st, 2020

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Cloud computing has made the cost of software cheaper and more modular. As a result, ERP and Accounting Software are now both jockeying for position among both small enterprise and SMB companies. As Forrest Burnson put it,  the cloud has made it “a lot easier for SMBs to treat ERP more like an operating expense, instead of a capital expenditure.”

However, knowing which type of platform can benefit your business requires a bit of research. Knowing the difference between Accounting Software and full Enterprise Resource Planning can help smooth an otherwise rocky transition. In this article we take a look at both technology platforms and recommend how, when and why businesses should make the transition from accounting software to a full ERP like NetSuite.

More than just the General Ledger

Prior to the rise of cloud based software and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), Accounting Software focused specifically on the General Ledger; debits, credits and financial statements for businesses big and small. They filled a highly specific role, and they filled it well.

Familiar to Small Business in this area are products like MYOB, Quickbooks and more recent companies like Xero. These services provide accurate and essential accounting software targeted at Small Business and lower end SMBs and designed to make the General Ledger easier to track and manage at an affordable price for smaller businesses.

However, as the marketplace has become more crowded and the needs of companies have evolved, the line between what an SMB needs and what is essential to an enterprise level organisation has also blurred. Accounting Software players broadened their scope to try and include more features. Now, it’s not uncommon to find the following included in Accounting Software platforms:

  • Payroll
  • Quote generation
  • Invoicing and Payments
  • Purchase Order generation and reconciliation
  • Inventory integration
  • …and more.

Previously, even more advanced features were associated with ERP platforms.

Why is Accounting Software moving into the ERP space, and is it enough for SMB or Enterprise level organisations to stick with Accounting Software rather than making the switch to a full ERP?

We’ll get to that, but first, let’s take a look at how the cloud is changing the way software platforms do business in the eCommerce industry.

How the cloud has changed the way ERP and Accounting Software interact

The move to cloud and hybrid hosted platforms has been a boon for businesses across the board. True Cloud architecture not only make it easier for newly engineered software platform companies to ensure version control and bug patching happens smoothly and holistically, but also provides efficient and scalable options for their customers; budget conscious businesses that want to ensure maximum ROI.

This means that an ERP can scale down and offer modular benefits to an SMB, directly competing with Accounting Software and offering several forward moving benefits that potentially make Accounting Software less valuable.

Integrated architecture

Cloud hosted software, also called SaaS (Software as a Service) integrates better with other SaaS platforms. With companies beholden to many pieces of software, integration and data synchronisation is essential. To achieve this, cloud hosted platforms use APIs to communicate better across the network.

At face value the benefits are clear; CRMs can talk easily with Accounting Software , Inventory Management and eCommerce. Apps that don’t integrate quickly find themselves left out of the market, and this pushes software vendors to keep providing excellent integration and top level software service.

However, with so many different systems communicating through layers of network infrastructure, these new methods present their own risks. It is here that we find the main challenges for both vendors and businesses, and unearth the primary motivations for the crossover in feature sets with ERP and Accounting Software.

Defining Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) in the cloud

Netsuite defines ERP as “A set of integrated applications that collect, store, manage, and interpret data from all sorts of business activities.”

An ERP’s exact function will depend largely on the type of business, but generally includes such activities as:

  • Sales & Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • SRP
  • Inventory Management
  • Shipping and Tracking
  • Payment
  • Data collection and reporting
  • And more.

A fully functioning ERP should cover the business workflow from lead/custom engagement to customer purchase to delivery, including stock management, post sale service and asset, equity and liability management. It serves as a central hub for eCommerce activities.

As an umbrella term, ERP can be seen to include Accounting Software within its purview. Here we come to the crux of the difference between a fully fledged ERP and an accounting software.

Owner operated

Most Accounting Software platforms have SMBs as their target demographic. Owner operated businesses that don’t have the need or resources for a fully fledged ERP, and instead are focused on tracking financials, tax, debits and credits.

SMB Accounting Software platforms are feature-light ERPs that are simpler to use for small businesses, but don’t provide the complexity and data fidelity of ERPs. However, with cloud hosted software, ERPs are beginning to offer their own versions of SMB relatable software.

Workflow security and approval

Accounting software generally has less customisation when it comes to secure access to workflows within the platform. With a focus on SMBs it’s a given that there’s less staff, less staff turnover, and overall less need to protect and secure data within the organisation.

Organisations that scale into enterprise are generally more concerned with access controls. Cloud based platforms with web portal access have to be even more careful about who and how access to particular workflows is managed.

In ERP parlance, this is often referred to as Full Access versus Approval Workflows. While modern accounting software does make some efforts towards user control, ERP platforms are generally have more granularity of control over their process and workflow management.

Interface interference

A big drawcard for SMB’s and enterprise organisations considering the transition to ERP from a pure accounting platform is the efficiency that comes with a single interface.

While an ERP shou;l consists of a single framework and workflows connecting features and processes, some of them may be third party, integration happens at the back end of the platform. Front end user interaction happens over a single interface. The benefits of this should be clear at an executive level, but let’s list some of them anyway:

  • Less staff training
  • More efficient workflows
  • Better data integration and reporting
  • Easier version control and patching.

Accounting software, with its more traditional focus on financial activity, can’t provide that same uniformity of interface. Your accounting software platform might have the capability to integrate with CRM and inventory software, but they are ultimately different pieces of software with different user experiences, GUIs and maintenance schedules. For an SMB where only a small group of staff are interacting with the software on a regular basis, this might not be a problem. For larger SMB or enterprise level activity, it means considerable waste in man hours when it comes to staff training and workflow.

Database integrity

The ERP versus Accounting Software debate has many ins and outs, but perhaps the most important to any business heading into the connected future is the integrity of data.

Accounting software isn’t less accurate than ERP by nature. In fact, good accounting software is all about accuracy. But the fact that accounting platforms themselves must share data between third party software to realise maximum benefits for an organisation puts Accounting Software at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to data fidelity.

ERPs are able to manage data loads more accurately than Accounting software. Instead of separate applications sharing, syncing and drawing information from individual databases, the ERP manages a single database to which multiple features, from CRM and inventory to financial, HR and Commission Management access, update and validate.

With the Internet of Things fast becoming a reality, enterprise level Big Data is going to require high fidelity to be of use to the organisation. While this might be primarily the purview of CTOs and CIOs, all C-Suite execs should consider how their current data collection and validation feeds into their big data analysis. These reasons could be motivating factors for both enterprise and SMBs for switching from Accounting Software to a full service ERP.

Accounting for change

Earlier, we touched on the propensity for accounting software platforms to introduce new features that take the platform outside of the specifics of the General Ledger. Now that we’ve dived into the functions of ERP, it’s a bit clearer why accounting software is growing outward into aspects of business not traditionally associated with accounting. Let’s examine further:

  • No platform wants to be redundant – In many ways, accounting software can be a victim of it’s own success. MYOB, Xero and friends help SMBs grow into enterprise level organisations. When they reach enterprise, they now look to ERP to manage business activity across the network. While that doesn’t immediately make accounting software redundant, it does make it beholden to an umbrella platform that could phase the accounting software out through deployment of it’s own accounting module.
  • Platforms need to keep growing – Business needs change and software platforms need to adopt. A business that isn’t growing is at risk. Accounting software platforms are feeling the pressure to innovate to acquire new customers.
  • API invasion – While APIs are integral to the interfacing of multiple platforms across the cloud, they also blur the lines between where one piece of software begins and the other ends. Data is power to software, and platforms that don’t innovate could see themselves API’d out of the equation.

Advantages and challenges of moving to ERP

For a small or medium business considering the move from accounting software to an ERP, the challenges can be seen to reflect the larger issues many SMBs face in making the leap to enterprise, a jump in scale that fundamentally changes the business workflow, increases staff, complexity, revenue and risk. A successful ERP implementation is a step towards a successful move from SMB to enterprise, but executives need to consider the following in their business strategy.

ERP Complexity: A blessing or a curse?

Anson Ang, Director at PMC says “At the very core of ERP is the centralization of data across various departments that comes with the integration.”

That centralisation leads to a number of on-paper benefits to ERP:

  • Unified database
  • Workflow visibility and integration
  • Efficiency across departments
  • Higher capacity.

But can these benefits be realised without disruption to business as usual?

ERPs are by their nature complex. Even the best implemented ERPs have many working parts and for an SMB making the jump to enterprise  resource allocation needs to be strongly considered. Avoid over-complication of smooth business practice by consulting with an ERP strategist to see which features of ERP you need and which might be redundant to your business workflows.

Costs of ERP implementation

WIth many working parts and responsibilities, ERP costs can be prohibitive to an SMB. Consider the following:

  • Ongoing licensing fees
  • Costs of hosting
  • Potential for incurred costs when scaling
  • Maintenance and staffing costs (I.E. IT contractors or staff).

Receiving value for money and return on investment means research into the costs and benefits of different ERP suites. Consulting with an experienced professional for a cost benefit analysis on ERP and your business.

Advantages of ERP to small and medium business

We’ve looked a lot at the distinction between ERP and Account Software as the delineation between enterprise and SMB, but are there advantages for small and medium businesses in using an ERP instead of, or in concert with, Accounting Software?

It today’s cloud hosted world, the answer is yes.

In fact, Small Business Computing reports up to 59% of SMB are considering implementing ERPs while not being enterprise level companies. Advantages cited include:

  • All data in one place
  • One overarching system
  • Less reliance on a combination of databases and platforms
  • Streamlined technology
  • Improved CRM

However the same data suggests that ERPs aren’t quite the norm in small businesses. While cloud computing has brought the price of ERPs down to levels scalable to SMBs, two thirds of SMBs aren’t using an ERP right now.

Which is for me – ERP or accounting software?

Some might say the simple answer to this question is if you are a small business then go with accounting software, and if you are an larger SMB or Enterprise, then go with the one that has word ‘enterprise’ in it (ERP).

However, we already know that’s no longer such an easy distinction. Consider the following questions and how they might apply to your business:

  • Does my current platform meet all my current and future needs?
  • What steps need to be taken to effectively transition from accounting software to ERP?
  • Will I still need my accounting software platform under the new ERP?

The most important element in any technology facing business (which is every business) is the forward strategy. Regardless of whether it’s now or in the future, your company will most likely want to move to an ERP at some point.

To speak with an expert in ERP about how they can benefit your organisation, contact the team at DWR today. They’ll be able to tailor a solution to suit your business needs, resulting in a more scaleable future for your organisation.

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NetSuite

Why B2B Features aren’t Right for B2C Processes

Tiernan OConnor
January 20th, 2020

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If you’re in a B2C business, you probably already know that B2B software features differ in significant ways from B2C solutions. Since customer demographics and the nature of the customer relationship tend to be very different, both B2B and B2C business needs to use features and process that are designed specifically for these processes.

Customer volumes

B2B process are usually designed for a modest volume of in-depth, complex customer relationships, whereas B2C solutions are designed to accommodatevery high volumes of transactions, orders, and customer accounts. Your reach as a B2C business may be far and wide, while a B2B business in the same industry might focus on as little as a few dozen key client relationships.

This can impact things like the amount of detail (form and fields that your sales personnel and contact centre staff fill out) in your CRM, along with the types of reports and analytics you can generate and carry out on your platform. For example, if a B2B process offers detailed reports for individual customers, a B2C process might focus on aggregate figures for a huge volume of customers rather than that same level of detail.

The lead generation process can be markedly different, with B2C businesses chasing far more leads than B2B organisations and therefore needing a platform that helps them track higher volumes of leads.

Level of personalisation

B2B businesses are concerned with a smaller volume of highly valued customers with higher per-transaction values. As a result, their order management, supply processing, and other operational software services are focused on more personalisation and information capture.

B2C organisations are usually concerned with less personalisation in the lead generation, sales, and ordering process. Of course, there may be exceptions to this when you have highly personalised product offerings, but often the personalisation will be automated through the eCommerce platform in the B2C, high volume environment. B2B aims for services with features such as those that let you track your customer relationships in detail can be superfluous and unused in B2C organisations.

Multiple corporate relationships

B2B often deliver features that let you track multiple corporate relationships. Typically the salesperson is dealing with everyone from marketing personnel and accounting staff, to senior management. The platform will allow you to track the key decision-makers and allow your sales staff to understand who are the decision-makers and influencers.

On the other hand, B2C transactions often involve just the consumer, so the buyer is actually the user, unlike in the B2B transaction. There are not multiple corporate relationships, so doesn’t need to have a feature for tracking multiple stakeholders on the customer’s side.

More complex and variable transactions

B2B transactions can be much more complex and involved than B2B, so software services – from sales and invoice functions to marketing and after-sales stages – tend to have more features that accommodate the complexities, variability, and personalisation. For B2C organisations, the sales process is typically high volume, uniform within customer segments or product lines, and less variable. As a B2C business, you probably won’t need the features that B2B process requires, which can include communications tools as well as recording and reporting features.

Longer sales/purchase cycles and contracts

B2B features are designed for longer-term sales cycles and contracts, with sales processes lasting months or even years. With the greater complexity and more personnel involved in the sales-decision process, B2B solutions offer features that allow you to track both complexity and long-time lags.

On the other hand, B2C features are designed to accommodate shorter sales times, which might last hours, days, or weeks. This might mean the platform is designed to assist with self-select e-commerce purchases, rapid in-store purchases, and contact-centre transactions. The amount of detail you would need to capture is probably much lower than a B2B transaction, and the focus would be on completing the transaction quickly rather than capturing complex information and facilitating an ongoing relationship.

Sales are complex business decisions

B2B software services are designed to reflect that B2B sales tend to be strictly business decisions that are guided by a chain of command or a team of people in the customer organisation. B2C transactions, however, may be driven by different factors, which can include spur of the moment purchases, viral marketing campaigns, emotions, and other drivers.

The B2B buyer is often looking for efficiency, expertise, after-sales support and training, and other benefits. B2C customers are the final users or consumers, and they might be looking for a great deal, emotional satisfaction, or entertainment rather than business benefits. Your solution as a B2C organisation should be designed to leverage the emotional impact or brand image of your marketing campaign to create a seamless brand experience for the consumer.

Technical and industry terms

B2B platforms can use industry terms and specialised language for a strong marketing impact. For B2C organisations, however, their consumer-facing software (such as an e-commerce site) probably would not benefit from the use of technical terms and language. In fact, the use of this could be off-putting to consumers. Simpler language in the design process of your customer-facing elements can be important for marketing outcomes, but B2B features are typically not designed for this.

Greater product customisation

B2B service platforms may be designed to offer more configurations to buyers, while B2C are typically focused on high volumes of uniform products. In a B2B environment, it can be necessary to offer this, but for B2C industries, these configuration features can be extraneous. Given this, it’s useful to consider whether or not you need product or service features on your B2C solution, and whether you might be paying for something that your customers and sales personnel will not actually end up using.

Direct contact with customers

B2B sales staff typically have direct contact with customers and develop in-depth, long-term relationships with these clients. In contrast, B2C organisations often use contact centres to manage high volumes of leads and sales or rely mainly on the e-commerce platform to support the lead-to-sale process. As a B2C business, you might find that some B2B software features and process are inadequate to support your call agents, who need to be able to access high volumes of detailed customer data for numerous calls each day.

Price negotiation

B2B sales processes often allow for price negotiation depending on the volumes and customer relationship, but B2C organisations usually sell at the same price to all customers. Given this, B2B payment tools and features can differ greatly from the uniform payment and pricing tools in, say, the e-commerce platform of a B2C business. Similarly, customers in B2C transactions will pay for their goods at the time of order, while B2B customers might be invoiced and be given a generous timeline for payment.

Segmentations and campaign management

The B2C sales process may require much more segmentation and campaign management than B2B. These tools can include engagement scores, surveys, purchase histories, brand preference, conversion propensity and other metrics.

Finding the right software

If you’re a B2C organisation that’s for some reason using a process designed for B2B, you’re probably paying (with $ or Time) for features you don’t need and not focusing on features, such as sophisticated analytics and reporting, that you can benefit from. Ultimately, keeping aware of the distinctions between the two sectors can help you choose a solution whose features closely aligned to your requirements and help you leverage your resources for the best possible operations and customer outcomes.

Contact the experts at DWR today to discuss which software features are right for your business.

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NetSuite

How to Choose the Right ERP Software System

Nigel Wooden
December 9th, 2019

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If your organisation has outgrown its ERP software, then you’re probably already thinking about implementing a new system. Given it’s a major process that requires substantial investment in time and capital, as well as a long-term commitment, you’ll want to choose carefully and make sure you end up with an ERP platform that matches your organisation’s requirements. The best possible outcome if you choose smart, is that you have an ERP that supports all your organisation’s functions and allows you to increase efficiency significantly.

1. Define current and future requirements (Not Solution)

The most important first step in choosing a new ERP system – one which you should take before you start researching vendors – is to assess your current and future requirements. You need to align these to your company objectives and your organisational function areas. This might be a formal process involving a number of people from relevant function areas, but it’s important to take this step in detail so you can achieve a good match with your current and future needs when it comes time to settle on an option.

One challenge we consistently come across is that the requirements are often developed in terms of solution instead of requirements. Often this thought pattern arises because an organisation is extremely wedded to the current “solution”. We often recommend that organisations identify the “good” components of the current solution and breakdown requirements that are actually required – not a like for like comparison, but identify the process that is taking place (not so much its actual steps).

Current requirements

Define what your current requirements are and assess how well they’re being met by your current ERP system, if you’re using one. For example, you might have a strong inventory management processes that you can build around. Outline any pain points you currently have, along with any strengths in your processes.

Future requirements

Outline what your future requirements are likely to be given your organisation’s strategic objectives. These might be efficiency goals, speed-to-market goals, and better accounting processes. Ask what you need out of an ERP system to achieve these objectives. Define the actual functionalities and features, including specific business processes and system requirements. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to let vendors know what you’re looking for.

Functional areas

Your functional areas can encompass accounting and financials, human capital or resource management, manufacturing and distribution, materials management, research and development, sales and inventory management, and supply chain management. It can also include customer service management, integration capabilities, and support. List the features and tools that each functional area might need.

2. Define the evaluation process

If you’re a large organisation, it’s vital to define who the key decision-makers will be and outline how you’ll be evaluating your ERP options. Collectively, the decision-makers need to understand each functional area and the required features in a new ERP. They need to be able to assess how well the proposed options actually align with the company’s overall and specific goals.

The decision-making team should undertake a formal process of review and analysis to evaluate the best option. This includes the first step of defining current and future requirements, communicating with vendors, and assessing how well ERP platforms match with requirements. You might want to have a formal time frame for the evaluation process to ensure you complete the evaluation with a specific time period and to avoid the process dragging out.

If you are a mid-sized organisation, then the capacity to get bogged down in data and evaluations is very real. Set up sessions with key people to explain the process, and clearly articulate that feedback is essential. Also bear in mind that the Project Sponsor or Key Decision maker has a lot more importance in this scenario and will need to be able to sell their decision effectively. 

3. Know What you are looking for

In our experience I see there are 2 types of business software approaches: a Product or a Solution.

A Product is where you sell out of the box applications that people can effectively plug and play. Eg MYOB, Xero, Waveapps etc. This product provides simple to use and can be run effectively out of the box wizard sign up etc

The second is the Solution, usually ERP, and traditionally markets to the top of SME’s and up. It addresses individual pain points and needs in the sales cycle. It is not plug and play, not wizard drive etc. It address your organisation’s pains and requirements.

A more in depth assessment of this can be read in our blog article Don’t Bring a Gun to a Knife Fight.

4. Budget

ERP software solutions can vary considerably when it comes to price. Work out what your budget is for your ERP requirements and check with vendors about how realistic your budget is given the level of functionality you require.

The sooner you can identify broad-brushed budget and an indicative cost of any ERP solution, the sooner you will be able to start to measure, assess, and balance out benefits against costs with some comfort.

Total cost of ownership

As you assess the ROI (Return On Investment) of an ERP systems, remember to factor in the total cost of ownership rather than simply the initial outlay. Costs will include obvious components implementation costs, configuration, training and migration, but may also include “downstream costs” such as  monitoring usage, not only hardware but ERP software upgrades, downtime and so on.

5. Be specific when asking for demos

In today’s world any ERP software worth considering should have a dedicated Youtube or video demonstration distribution network (as long as you can put up with the twang of the the presenters). In addition to being specific when asking for a demonstration, ensure you come as educated as possible to the actual demonstration of the software.

A good flexible ERP solution will be able to take your specifics and not only deliver a demonstration that fits your requirements but enhance that so you can identify the true benefits of what the technology provides.

It is very difficult for almost any resource to reasonably use a “Demo” account of an ERP system without an instant frustration factor overcoming them. Please ensure that you take this into account.

6. Consider mobile usability (now and into the future)

If you have a mobile workforce or teams that work on mobile devices, make sure the ERP fully supports smartphones and tablets. Consider whether you need the full range of features to be available on mobile devices or just the core functionalities of your ERP system. Work with the actual users on your team and have them test the demo versions to ensure they’re happy with the way the platform works on their devices.

7. Ask for testimonials and references

If you’re in a specialised industry, it can help to ask partner organisations for recommendations, testimonials and references. This can simplify the review process and allow you to find out more about ERP systems that you might otherwise not have heard about.

At the same time, make sure you ask the ERP solution vendor for references and testimonials from their existing customers. If you have the opportunity to do so, speak to these customers directly and find out as much as you can about their experience in using the ERP platform. Ask them about strengths, limitations, and possible areas of improvement so you can learn from their experience.

8. Ensure you understand the concept of “Configuration” and “Customisation” in terms of each solution

All ERPs will need some sort of Configuration and or Customisation. The key is understanding what is configuration and what customisation means. Modern ERP platforms allow mid level organisation to configure much more than previously and have built in tools that means you are customising in the ERP solution not outside it. In short, with a modern platform the merging of Configuration and Customisation has accelerated.

I see the definition as if the change is made, built or developed within the application – not outside – and it uses the tools provided, then it is configuration not customisation. Addressing this carefully in your specific demo will considerably improve your understanding of this.

Older legacy systems allow customisation that may not be integrated with new version, and leave your version locked because a third party solution that you used to customise the solution cannot move to windows 10, etc.

9. Future scalability and technology

Technology moves rapidly today, so ensure you include a step for assessing future scalability and technology longevity in your evaluation process. Changing to another ERP incurs costs and most organisations would probably prefer not to do it often. If the ERP system is based on newer technology, you can probably achieve a much longer working life with it.

The technology stack is not only critical to the best fit approach for your organisation, but if it’s not addressed effectively it may well place an anchor around your organisation’s neck for years to come.

Thorough understanding of today’s terminology, eg. around the term “cloud”, in respect to ERP is critical. Never before have I seen a word that is means such different things to so many different people, depending on their perspective.

Choosing the right ERP

Choosing an ERP can be a complex process, especially if you’re a mid sized organisation up with numerous functional areas. It’s crucial to assess your goals and pain points so that you end up with an ERP platform that truly supports your organisation at all levels and functional areas. A poorly chosen ERP can incur unnecessary costs and hinder your organisation’s performance, while the right ERP can drive higher productivity, efficiency, and profitability.

For more information on how an ERP can assist your organisation, contact the experts at DWR today.