You've evaluated various alternatives and have finally decided on an open source ERP software. The decision has not been easy as you want to invest only in a product that genuinely helps your business.The last thing you want is to run the business to the ground or at the very least, significantly disrupt its operations because your business went for a cloud based accounting software. Today we'll look at some of the ways that you can start preparing your small business for cloud accounting
# 1). Proactively manage the transition
If your small business has been utilising spreadsheets and other silo applications to manage business data, then the switch to an integrated solution will need to be proactively managed.Having an integrated solution will provide immense benefits but will initially present its own challenges.
To get an idea of this, let’s imagine a scenario where the company's sales reps managed their sales opportunities pipeline on individual spreadsheets. With an integrated solution, all their sales opportunities are now in one central database, accessible to the entire team. A decision will have to be made during the preparation of the ERP implementation on how this will be managed. Will restriction of access apply to individual sales rep or will they all access each other’s opportunities? Considerations will have to be made on the consequences of each decision and what they mean. What your business decides will be based on its own internal factors such as organizational culture, internal policy etc.What this scenario highlights is for the need of comprehensive planning. This can be accomplished by fully understanding where the business is currently in relation to its data and information needs and where it aims to be after the solution is in place. Whilst the first aspect is obvious to the business; the second is not as it may be unfamiliar with proposed solution. This is where an experienced partner will be able to assist by providing strategy and optimization to help minimise project risks.
# 2) Evaluate and review of business processes.
Evaluating business processes is one of the high risk area in the adoption of your ERP software. No matter how good the cloud accounting software is, it is needless to point out that the implementation will be a failure if the business processes are not properly translated into ERP software functions. The challenges met in the evaluation and review of business processes vary, but can be largely attributed to ambiguity in language which boils down to this: people generally do not mean what they say. This is not to say that they purposefully misrepresent their requirements, but few non-technical users are able to precisely articulate their functions and what they need in relation to the accounting ERP Accounting software functions. If the small business has the skills in-house with the experience and expertise to gather, document and implement the requirements on the cloud ERP software , then this phase is a breeze and just a another thing to be crossed off the checklist during the preparation. One consideration to remember is that certain expertise can only be gained by working with a product over a period of time. Because of the technical nature of ERP software, it is unrealistic to expect an individual to become an overnight expert.
If deep ERP Accounting implementation skills are unavailable in-house, then the business will need to engage a trusted partner with the in-depth ERP Accounting product knowledge who is able to assist by providing guidance and best practice recommendations. It’s preferable that this partner has experience with other ERP accounting software, not just the single cloud based ERP software, so that the recommendations are not limited to a particular product, but that the partner brings the best of what other software also provide.This last element is key to open source ERP software implementations where the source code is readily available and can be modified to further suit the business requirements.
#3) Be flexible
As you prepare for the implementation of your open source ERP software, keep an open mind and be receptive to new ways of doing things. Just because your business has done something in a certain way for so long does not mean it must continue to do it in exactly the same way even with the new solution in place. Good software introduces best practice and if you have selected the right one, it will come with its own best practice built into it. One of the most common frustrations voiced by businesses that come from manual systems is the inability to modify customer invoices after they have been added on the system. Sound ERP software should never permit this for various number of reasons that include amongst others: maintenance of data integrity. The same applies for the modification of inventory codes, general ledger accounts etc.
The desire to have things exactly the same as they were before the new accounting software was implemented results in businesses prematurely customizing the software before they have fully experienced the way it processes and reports data . Because the entire operations of the ERP software are not fully understood before and just after the implementation, the knee jerk response is that of trying to get away from understanding the software by customizing it so much until it is like the manual system or if that proves to be not possible; export every transaction to a format that’s identical to the manual system that the business is moving away from. The motive for these actions is familiarity. People get accustomed to the familiar and find it difficult to adjust to the new way of doing things. Whilst there is no silver bullet to remedy this response: it is good to be mindful of it to avoid wasteful expenditure on function customizations and reports that may eventually not be used after the people have gained deeper understanding of the system. This is where an experienced ERP implementation partner can save your small business money by providing assistance and drive faster time to value.The rule of thumb is to wait three months after "going live" on the ERP software before investing in custom development.Treating advanced custom development (advanced development being anything more than four man days) as part of phase two of the ERP software implementation is not only prudent but businesses that heed this advice more often than not save financially.
In closing, remember that the discussions around your business processes are far more important than the ERP software you end up putting in place. Proper planning and execution will provide significant benefits to your ERP project success as you take your business to the next level.