It’s hard to believe we are already over a month into 2018. For many businesses, January marks not only the beginning of the calendar year but also the beginning of the fiscal year which means new budgets, new projects and a clear plan for what’s ahead in 2018. If replacing introductory or legacy software is a part of your strategic plans for 2018, it is important to approach the project with the right mindset in order to be successful in making a change. One of the biggest mistakes company’s make when looking to upgrade back-end software systems is not dedicating enough time or resources to the project. The right inventory accounting software package will help grow your business and automate processes – and will ideally grow with your company over the next 5-10 years. That being said, it is important to dedicate the time to make the right decision. Below we have some tips to help your business successfully change its inventory accounting software in 2018.
(1) Educate yourself on what products are available in the market.
Before making a significant investment, it is the best practise to do extensive research on available products and services in the market. This applies to both personal purchases (such as buying a car or a house) as well as business purchases (such as buying a new piece of equipment or software solution). Reading reviews, speaking with existing customers, researching brands, comparing prices and looking up substitute products is now commonplace among consumers and businesses when purchasing product of any dollar value – and according to research by Retail Drive, more and more consumers are searching for this information from mobile devices while in store. For purchases that don’t require you to visit a physical location, it is important to spend the time performing initial research before speaking with sales reps or calling to make inquiries about a product. When it comes to inventory accounting software, initial research ensures you’re not wasting your time evaluating solutions that are not a good fit. As a starting point and before engaging with software vendors, try to find information about the following:
Different Software Tiers
Will your business benefit most from an introductory level solution (such as QuickBooks) or an enterprise level solution (such as Blue Link ERP)? Not only will introductory and enterprise software vary in terms of functionality and cost, but the implementation, timeframe and sales process will also vary. There is no point in trying to compare systems across the different software tiers and therefore it is important to first identify which type of solution is best for your business. This will depend on factors such as functionality requirements, future strategic plans, and budget.
Cloud vs. On-Premises
Although cloud-based solutions are continuing to dominate the market, in certain circumstances it still makes more sense to implement enterprise software on-premises. If you’re unsure of the differences, do your research and make sure you understand all the implications of choosing one method over another – and consider working with a vendor that provides both options in order to be more flexible as your business evolves into the future.
Download our Cloud vs. On-Premises Costs Comparison eBook to Learn More.
Industry Specific Solutions and Functionality
Although for the most part, most wholesale and distribution businesses will operate the same, there are certain industries that require additional functionality. For example, the pharmaceutical distribution industry is heavily regulated by the DEA and FDA requiring specific functionality such as transaction reporting, lot tracking, and serialization. Working with a vendor that provides industry-specific functionality not only helps manage your specific business requirements, it also means that they can provide expert advice on how to succeed in a market where they have a lot of experience.
(2) Be mindful of timeframes.
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Although I’m not sure Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was referring to software implementations when he coined this quote, the same applies when working on any project. In order to be successful, it is important to create a plan and stick to it. Implementing new software is not going to happen overnight. Not only because software vendors typically schedule projects anywhere from 3-5 months in advance, but because change management in an organization also takes time. No matter how user-friendly the software is, implementing a new inventory accounting solution requires significant change as employees learn to integrate the new software into their everyday processes and across departments. Make sure you have a plan in mind, timeframes for accomplishing certain milestones and information on which employees are responsible for which aspects of the project.
(3) Invest in the right people.
Enterprise level inventory accounting software streamlines processes across all departments – from inventory, to accounting, to warehouse functions, to purchasing, to invoicing – and everything in between. In order to properly integrate new technology into everyday tasks, proper change management tactics need to be employed. The first step to ensuring employees are onboard for the change is to assign tasks and leadership roles to the right people. Assign someone with decision making power as a project lead in order to ensure the project stays on track. This person needs to understand business operations across all departments, be engaged and take ownership of the project and have visible support from management and the final decision makers.