Before we started this process, I did a lot of research on companies that did this kind of work, ERP work. I found ERP Advisors Group initially on YouTube and thought to myself, “These guys know what they're talking about. Let's bring them into the mix.” It happened just by Googling ERP migration strategies and trying to get opinions on should we change from our current software or not. I reached out, made contact, started talking with Erica, and here we are today.
What led us to this process, is that our current software had issues that triggered our desire to change, as well as some ancillary applications around the software. Another trigger for us to start this process was the costs related to our software. Our owner, which is a private equity firm, asked if there are better solutions out there that were more economical than what we were using, and the answer generally was, yes, probably. So with that, a couple years ago we ran the process internally to see if we could find an application that met the need that our software currently fills. At the time, we did it and felt as though some of the cloud strategies, which are primarily what we were focused on, were still in their infancy. We focused on one software specifically, and at the time it just didn't seem to be mature enough, in addition to some of the costs that we put together, it wasn't economical at that time. However, because of the licensing strategy we've had with our software, as we continue to grow, it's becoming more apparent that there is probably better solutions and more economical solutions to fit our needs.
What I found interesting during the process was that the solutions we had looked at a couple of years ago were essentially the same solutions ERP Advisors Group recommended to us, including a few new ones. We looked at some of the tier one solutions, two of which we didn't feel like were a good fit for us, and ultimately ERP Advisors Group basically came back and said the same thing. They felt that the middle-tier solutions are better fit for our company.
We are not ERP specialists, but we have technical skill sets where we can operate our system from a technical perspective, but we knew we needed help and needed someone who was in this day in and day out. Someone who knows what the real world of the various software platforms is, rather than just hearing a spiel from salespeople.
Over the course of my career, I've learned to take sales pitches with a grain of salt because they'll sell you the world, when in reality, what they are selling might not function the way that the sales guys pitched it. Because of this we knew we wanted to find someone that we trusted to help us and would be an advocate for us rather than a salesperson that has a completely different motive than someone like ERP Advisors Group.
I think we had spoken to a handful advisory companies at the beginning of this process. We had our senior management team, and our CEO was even involved in this search to find the right fit. Our team picked ERP Advisors Group because we felt it was the right blend of expertise and knowledge, and EAG also had very competitive costs in terms of some of the other folks that we looked at.
Our biggest driver criteria was that ERP Advisors Group was not going to come into our project from a sales perspective; they are not an advocate for the software companies, they are an advocate for our organization and that was what we were looking for. We needed that expertise to help drive where we are headed, wherever that might be.
I believe ERP Advisors Group is going to be helpful in clarifying what the negotiation key points are, if we get to the point where we're going to buy another software package and understanding the ins and outs of each of these companies’ that we're going to be working with negotiation strategies. We know some level, but again we don't go buy ERP products every day. There are companies that we deal with all the time, like our vendors, so we understand the inner workings of that and how to negotiate with them, but not with the different companies that sell software.
A key point that held us back was when we would ask for quotes from various software companies. We would get quotes back that would be twice the cost of our current software. That made us ask, what's going on here? But in talking with Shawn and Quentin, they advised us that we could get better pricing. That by positioning ourselves better we can negotiate better costs. This strategy, which ERP Advisor does all the time, was a big benefit to working with their team.
In general, our current software meets our needs. It’s not that the software doesn't function the way we needed it to function, it does. It's a robust product, and it certainly meets our needs from a business perspective. Where it is falling short is with the contract that had been negotiated nearly twenty years ago that was relevant at that time because our business model was much different than it is now; however, our industry is incredibly dynamic, and so the business model that we have today is wildly different than it was then. The software contract we're in now doesn't meet those needs any longer. So, we went to our provider several years ago asking for some amendments to the contract that was more aligned with our business channel today and they basically said look, we're not going to give up revenue for you guys for any reason.
We had to evaluate that, while our current software was working, we aren’t happy with what it costs to maintain. We decided then to get some competitive costs, and after getting the competitive costs they didn't really show that we were going to be able to save any money.
The other reason that we're really considering moving off our current platform is we know that it's kind of long in the tooth and that it's not going to be around forever, and our provider keeps kicking the can down the road on the support dates.
Fortunately for us, they did extend the support, but with that being said, we knew there was a shelf life. This was our opportunity to see if there are better solutions out there that were more economical, and we can get away from that day when we know that our software is not going to be supported any longer.
I was particularly interested in ERP Advisors Group’s Legacy Software Review series since we are on one of those legacy systems. I watched the episode where they were talking specifically about our current platform.
One of the biggest challenges that we had looking at other providers was the scope and breadth of our current product. They have so many different modules in, and I think we use them all except for the HR portion. We use some of the treasury functions, we use projects, we also use the expense module. Some of the other ERP products that we were looking at, they just didn't offer those particular functions. We would have then had to get a third-party product and then build integration with whatever the new solution was going to be to continue down the road with the same functionality.
We know that when you start bringing in three or four other third party solutions, the costs start to go up. I have a really small team on the application side that supports our ERP platform, and I was concerned about moving them from one product now to a world where they would have to handle four or five products. We are aware that our costs will likely go up because we're going to have to bring in more skill sets to be able to facilitate managing that platform when it's all in our current software and we already have all the people that have those skills ready to go. That was another kind of hold back, but, again, it's just what's going to make the most sense for us long term and that's something that EAG is helping us with.
I'm sure Quentin and Shawn alike both hate to talk to me because I challenge a lot of the things that they say, but they're always really, really good about responding and giving me some examples of why this makes sense. Switching software is such a big change to the organization, I want to make sure we are making the absolute best decision for our company.
Literally, our current platform permeates every corner of our business and replacing is not a decision we're going to make lightly. And, it will ultimately fall back on me if changing to a new software doesn't work. I'm making sure that we uncover every stone and ask every question that comes up along the way, but again, ERP Advisors Group is really good, because this is what they know. Shawn is a wealth of knowledge, and we trust him, especially that he understands it at a level of depth that we could never even approach on our own.
Our future projects and our ability to do business are my biggest concerns. If we position our organization so that they can't do business effectively in the future, that's ultimately a bad thing, clearly. I don't want to rely specifically on my own thoughts and decisions, I want to bring in people that know what they're talking about to help us make that decision, to validate what we want and need to operate, and also to advise us on what is best for our business.
Our first interaction with ERP Advisors Group was Erica and she's obviously a sharp individual. She's got her ducks in a row and that was clear. She was very organized, and the communications were very, very good. Response time was very good. And so, when we were talking to other companies, we put together a scorecard for some of the things that were important.
Some of the things were firm, definitive requirements and some were software requirements. We look at such things like can we talk to these people, can we work with these people? Because honestly, some of the people we talked to, we knew immediately they weren’t who we wanted to work with. We want people that we could communicate with and were like us because we're easy to talk to, I think. Sometimes you can tell someone just has the same kind of personalities and EAG fits the bill there.
As I previously mentioned, ERP Advisors Group was competitive. Not the cheapest, but not the most expensive either. Again, our scorecard helped us weigh that.
There’s a lot of positives around ERP Advisors Group being experienced and knowledgeable. They have had previous experience in our industry vertical, which I think has been helpful, and the knowledge that ERP Advisors Groups brings from industry experience working with a variety of software vendors is obviously very valuable.