During Covid-19, I had a telling conversation with a prospective client.
It went along the lines of “Look, we’ve been locked out of the office with Covid-19. Our MYOB accounting product isn’t set up to allow multiple users into the system at one time. So because there are four people in our finance team, each of us has got to bounce the other person in and out to do our work. It’s terribly frustrating and slow. We really want an ERP system that anybody can get into, at any time, remotely, and without limitations - so we can just get on with our jobs.”
Fair call, I say.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard of this issue. I’ve come across other situations where clients are restricted to one user per session. While the prospective client mentioned MYOB, it’s a problem common to other accounting solutions used by small-medium businesses. And it’s a genuine constraint to their ability to do business and grow.
Gulp, how much?
To get around it, these businesses are faced with buying an ERP, which is quite a sizable investment compared to MYOB or Xero. It’s a quantum leap for most to go from $50 per month to an outlay of say $80,000 for the implementation and then ongoing monthly costs.
So why would they bother?
We’ve all just emerged from an intensive period of working from home, which has highlighted the capabilities and limitations of our business applications. Many businesses have suffered from similar issues as my prospect - be it from the restrictions of their accounting product, the way their VPN has been set up, or just not having enough software licenses. The positive outcome of the pandemic (I’m a silver lining kind of guy) was that it showed the value of running your business in the cloud, with software designed for just that.
Many ERPs have been repurposed from on-premises solutions to run in the cloud.
Unfortunately, it’s not been much more than a facelift in some cases, a new ‘look’ overlaid on clunky old technology or architecture. They’ll work adequately if you’ve got fibre or broadband, but it can be tricky to extract/input data in the system. And they’re notoriously difficult to integrate with other applications. They rarely have a modern API, so they don’t talk to other systems. Plus, they often have issues with native functionality around warehouse management and mobility (yep, they look pretty bad on a smart device).
However, true cloud applications are born in the cloud. They were designed to run on the limited internet connections from 20 years ago - they had to be fast and reliable in times of poor connectivity, but still provide full functionality and mobility from the outset. As you can imagine, they outperform those facelift solutions which are playing catch up.
But back to my earlier point - is it worth moving to an ERP if you are a small business?
A cloud-based ERP brings to a small business so much more than an accounting package. As well as the financials, you get inventory, purchasing, reporting, CRM, and more. All in one beautifully interconnected package.
So yes, you are paying more, but you don’t have to invest in the other business solutions you need, and then try to integrate them, or use Excel spreadsheets to collate information from the system and do manual reporting.
With an ERP, you simply get more bang for your buck.
Now, back to the prospect I was talking about right at the beginning.
The business acknowledged the need to modernise their business and make that leap into the enterprise space. So they knew that they needed an ERP to support that move. And Covid-19 made it evident to them they needed to be more resilient should we go through another crisis - be it earthquake or pandemic.
For them, it was about survival. It was about being ready to bounce back or scale down as needed. To tackle problems head-on with up-to-the-minute reporting. And to work productively and efficiently from anywhere. Or even scale down premises to a hot-desk centre as more employees opt to work from home as a lifestyle choice (it wouldn’t take long to recoup $80,000 spent on a new ERP given commercial rental rates!).
Suffice to say, the prospective client isn’t one anymore. He’s now a signed-the-dotted-line client.
I’m going to finish off by referencing a Ted Talk by Dan Pink where he discussed motivation and results-orientated performance metrics. He said that it doesn’t matter where you are and what you do, what really matters - what ONLY matters - are the results you get.
And that resonated with me. Putting it simply, businesses need results, and results are in part an outcome of good systems to support people and their roles. Point being, if you really put people first ensure you have the supporting solution.
So I’m looking at post-Covid-19 as a very positive time. It’s not a down and out; it’s a hallelujah moment that has forced us to modernise and to be resilient.
Today, you can run your entire business on a smartphone. A cloud-based ERP delivers on the dream of 24/7 access to the information you need to make decisions. And get results.
Sales Executive, Fusion5