It’s what every business owner aspires to: sustained and substantial growth which propels your small start-up into, if not the big league, then certainly the medium one. But along with growth, you’re likely to rapidly realise that the dollars-per-month accounting package, ideal when you started out, is no longer fit for purpose. With increased scale comes increased complexity; managing it effectively depends on the right systems and software. And done right, the big league is not only the next step, but it becomes a lot more likely.
The top four signs that your business is ready to make the leap from accounting package to enterprise resource management (ERP) software are harbingers – but not of doom. Pay attention to them and you could make the leap to better business.
1. Conquest: Spreadsheets filling the gaps
The first horseman is Conquest. Most folk would put ‘paperwork’ as the top sign of the need for more advanced business management software. But this is the second decade of the new century; a lot of internal paperwork has morphed into Excel spreadsheets (which is not to say paperwork isn’t a major bellwether).
Now, we’re not here to knock spreadsheets. They are an enormously useful tool. But when you find company information is being pulled out of the accounting system and put into spreadsheets, when there is endless rekeying of data from one location to another, and when ‘mission critical’ information is ‘somewhere in a spreadsheet’, then it is time to look at something a little more capable. After all, all company information should be in the system of record. If it isn’t, you’re putting yourself at risk, on the one hand, and you’re almost certainly not operating very efficiently on the other.
2. War: Multiple ‘point solutions’
The second horseman is War. Most companies start out with an accounting package. They then add a few extras as they go along, like a CRM system to keep track of customers, a point of sale solution, perhaps something to handle inventory, and another system for keeping track of manufacturing. Sound familiar?
With the proliferation and low cost of cloud services, it is easy to get multiple point solutions to help manage your company. It doesn’t even cost much. But in the same way that Excel spreadsheets all over the place make it exceedingly difficult to keep track of everything (and those gaps can be costly), multiple systems don’t contribute to visibility. It also routinely means you’re flipping between multiple screens, performing ‘swivel chair integration’ (that’s when you look at one screen, whip your chair around, and type it into another). It’s not efficient. It’s not even easy to get a handle on exactly how much you’re spending on software. And it is time to look at something beefier.
3. Pestilence: Visibility is difficult (and oh-so-desirable)
The third horseman is Pestilence. The bigger and more complex your company gets, the more you want to know what’s going on at any given time. Spreadsheets and multiple disparate systems don’t foster visibility. In fact, they do quite the opposite (and let’s bear in mind the great fallibility of the spreadsheet, which is at the same time its enduring strength: they are super flexible. Which means they can be manipulated, for better or worse). When you find yourself wanting to know what’s going on, and yet it takes days or weeks to get that view, only for the realisation to kick in that it is already outdated, it’s time for better software. Imagine getting the information with a mouse click; that’s what you want (and can have with ERP software).
5. Death: Reporting and forecasting are a major headache
The fourth horseman is Death. Feel the migraine coming on just reading that heading? This is an all-too-common problem for the businesses bulging at the seams. There’s a lot going on, production is running flat out, sales are through the roof, people are running around all over the place…but what does profitability look like? How much should production ramp up for next month, next quarter or next year? Which customers are performing best? How’s inventory looking? Which territories are performing, and which need more attention?
Reporting and forecasting grow in stature along with your company. With more customers depending on your products or services, there’s more at stake. The bank needs more information from you. So do your investors, partners and suppliers. If you’re struggling to keep up, and if whenever you’re asked for some detail or another, the initial reaction is to throw your hands up in despair…you guessed it. The accounting software, which no doubt has served you well over the years, is due an upgrade. It’s time to look at an ERP solution.
If some, any or all these issues sound familiar, give us a call. We’ll be happy to chat about why and how a suitable ERP solution can help – and give you the time to work on, rather than in your business.