The do-it-yourself (DIY) mindset has been around for a while now and is traditionally associated with home improvement projects and arts and crafts. However, thanks to the popularity of DIY topics on YouTube, podcasts, TV channels, websites, and in books, more and more industries are marketing to the DIYer and encouraging consumers and businesses to try things themselves first, before hiring professional help and seeking formal training. Although this culture is great for encouraging creativity and fostering an entrepreneurial mindset, in certain situations it can have dangerous consequences. Many prosperous start-up companies began operations as a result of not being able to find something in the marketplace and therefore resorting to creating it themselves. But there is a reason certain projects should be left to professionals as a way to ensure they are done properly – such as when it comes to re-wiring electrical during a home renovation. The same applies when it comes to inventory accounting software. In order for software to improve business processes and give your company a strategic advantage, it is best to seek professional help during the search and implementation.
DIY Data Migration
One aspect of the software upgrade process where businesses try to do-it-themselves applies to data migration. As a means to save money during the software implementation process, many companies ask about migrating their own data as opposed to receiving help from the vendor. Although this will theoretically save you costs from the vendor, it will usually end up costing the same in time spent manually moving data and fixing issues and in the form of an employee’s salary. Migrating your own data also presents its own set of issues such as:
- How do you update the data already migrated on the day you switch over “live” to the new system? How quickly can you get that done by yourself?
- How do you get opening balances, unpaid payables, uncollected receivables etc. across at go-live?
- What if you want to change product codes, categories, etc.?
- What happens if something goes wrong? Who are you going to be able to call?
In certain cases, such as for start-up businesses where there is virtually no historical data, it makes sense to move information yourself. But for most businesses, it is important to factor in data migration as a legitimate cost of the implementation, and enlist the help of the vendor.
Training is another part of the implementation that should not be done without the help of the software vendor. Proper training from the get-go, means a better working system and the ability to save costs elsewhere in the future. Even if you have experience working with inventory accounting software, every system is different and proper training will reduce the frustration of trying to figure things out yourself. At a minimum, it is important to train at least a couple of employees which can be identified as power users to then help train other employees. If you’re tech-savvy and a fast learner, training costs can still be reduced. Work with a vendor who charges based on the actual training done, as opposed to giving you a set fee and that way if you’re able to learn quickly and easily, the costs will be less. Keep in mind that even with proper training many users end up missing important features or using the system incorrectly due to information overload during the implementation process. This is why it is also important to consider additional training down the road.
Designing and managing a successful eCommerce site is not an easy feat. Aside from the technical knowledge required to ensure your website functions properly, you also need to design it in such a way that it is easily found by your target market. What works for people selling product on Etsy is not going to work for a growing retail business like Walmart. When it comes to eCommerce, the less expensive the option, the fewer features and toolsets available – which in today’s competitive marketplace is essentially as good as having no website. This is why it is important to fully understand your options for eCommerce and involve the help of your inventory accounting software vendor to find the right solution. Look for a vendor that can offer support by either integrating with an existing platform or provide you with a proprietary eCommerce solution – both on the B2B and B2C side. Once you have a working website it is important to then set-up proper integration with your back-end inventory accounting software. Manually downloading order information, entering it into a standalone accounting solution, updating inventory quantities and then updating the website is fine when dealing with a small number of web orders, but will quickly become overwhelming as your business grows. Working with a vendor or integration partner to help with eCommerce as opposed to trying to set up the integration yourself (or worse, manually updating data) means you can easily add other channels down the road. For example, if you decide to start selling through Amazon or eBay or working with other retail websites
DIY is great when it comes to painting furniture or fixing your deck. But trying to cut corners and do too much yourself during the implementation of inventory accounting software can have negative impacts on the success of the project. Be sure to listen to the advice offered by software vendors and be open to their input on getting a new system in place. Do your research and learn more about other ways to save time and money when buying software that will not have a negative impact.