Home / Blog / Getting to the bottom of the solution behind the solution :some considerations when selecting enterprise resource planning (ERP) software in South Africa.
You've sat through several product demos, asked the presenters clever questions and they have shown the way their enterprise resource planning (ERP) software addresses South African accounting regulations. They have told you that if you sign up in that month, your business will avoid the hefty price increase kicking in the following month. In the foremost of your mind, you are aware that your business urgently needs a solution to address its information woes that have begun to cost it time and more importantly money. You've looked at the all the other accounting software and wondered how they could all be different when surely they all do the same thing at the end of the day...right!
The idea of the solution behind the solution
What most people new to the ERP software industry fail to understand is the idea of the solution behind the solution. The solution behind the solution varies from product to product. For some, it’s the sound product architecture, for others it’s a robust database, others it’s a strong accounting engine, and the list goes on. Depending on your unique business requirements, it must navigate the waters to find and go with the right solution for its needs. A common complaint by those that purchased an ERP software that wasn't the right fit for them is that the system was overpriced. This is the case when a business purchases a “highly advanced- feature rich” ERP Accounting software and only go ahead to utilise twenty percent of its potential. Obviously when one hears such individuals bad mouth their system, one must evaluate such criticism and look at all accompanying facts. Unscrupulous sales reps will sell you what they are selling, even if they know it’s not the best fit for your business primarily because they earn most of their income via commission.There are real stories of where business have been sold point of sales systems as ERP Accounting Software only to look for the chart of accounts and be told that it’s not there but could be developed at a price!
Letting go of the old to move forward to the new.
On the other hand, are businesses that won't let go of the entry level off-the-shell accounting software that their business purchased the day they started to operate with a staff complement of three or less. We won't mention the businesses that continue managing their business data on spreadsheets despite the obvious risks. These businesses’ s put off the prospect of getting a new, better ERP software by opting for more costly custom development. No matter how many times it is said, one still comes across a business flushing money down the drain in custom development which varies by business but the most common we're coming across in South Africa is ecommerce website integration to clunky desktop back end software.
The best way to understand this situation is by likening it to a young family that purchased its small first car that was good for going to the shops, doing the trips to work, school and back home but now the family decides to go on an expedition across the Kalahari in that small family car.The family decides on not spending more than they think they should and enhance that car by fitting bigger wheels, raising the vehicle's clearance etc. Whilst perhaps the small family might make it to the Kalahari and back, their tool of choice is highly inappropriate. More likely the small car will break down and they will still spend a considerable amount on alternative transportation.
Before the advent of cloud computing, the hesitance to switch ERP accounting software was valid when one considered the hefty cost of acquiring expensive proprietary ERP accounting software. The same cannot be said when one considers the availability of free, open-source, cloud ERP accounting software. The only costs incurred (if any) will be for the implementation costs if professional assistance is sought to safeguard the project's success. The solution behind the solution of open source cloud ERP software is their agile development framework which allow for building of custom apps. When a business considers going cloud open source for their ERP, they must consider not only the current features available in the version of the ERP they are evaluating. Consideration must be given into future requirements. Unlike the young family that had budget restrictions when they purchased their first family car, small businesses do not have the same barrier when considering open source cloud ERP accounting software as these are essentially free.
Not all ERP Accounting Software is created equal
It must be pointed out that open source ERP software are not all the same as some solutions have missed the mark by neglecting the development framework which really is the solution behind the solution unseen by most end users. Simple things as adding custom fields, tables and objects (simply understood as related tables) is a key factor when evaluating accounting software. Evaluate the process of adding custom fields because when your business requires functionality that’s unavailable in the ERP Accounting software, that process is what will need to take place.
Furthermore, as you are purchasing just not for today, consider this; as your business plans to grow and expand, does the ERP Accounting software you are considering support workflows. Loosely stated, workflows are the business rules engine that assist with the processing of business transactions in the ERP Accounting software. Last but not least, what is the entire cost of adding an additional user? This cost can be, but is not limited to all related software licenses and hardware that they will need in order to access the ERP accounting software.
Whilst the above list is not exhaustive, it does provide for some basis in your consideration of an ERP software. Deciding on ERP software has traditionally been a difficult choice with long term cost consequences. With the advent of free open source ERP accounting software that allow you to try before adopting, this anxiety has somewhat been reduced. One of the ways that the perceived risk of cloud open-source ERPs can be done away with altogether is by engaging an experienced ERP Accounting implementation partner that can provide strategy, best practice and optimization.