We found ERP Advisors Group through my head of IT. I'm basically approaching one year at the organization and prior to my joining the company, they had thought several times about replacing the current platform that we had. Our head of IT reached out to ERP Advisors Group in the past as they were considering doing this before and then once I joined, I was able to push this along and get board approval to do the first phase.
My perspective was, at a very high level, we had a system in place that was 20 years old. And that system was fit for purpose when the company was a $30 million company, not a $300 million company. We had a lot of people in finance doing a lot of manual work, so it was clear that we didn’t have the tools we needed; however, my perspective on it was at a very high level, not that of a functional level.
In our first phase, we asked EAG to map out the medium-level current state and where the pain points were. Phase one was really, “Can we spend money on doing an analysis?” That current state information helped.
We achieved our targeted decision in terms of getting down to two software vendors. Currently, we are doing a separate project to do very detailed current state assessments that will go in parallel with the final deep dives and selection process for the final two vendors.
Part of what Shawn, the team, and myself are working towards is a timeline, because we’re a PE-backed company, they want to start a sale process for us, let’s say two years from now. We did not want to drag it out to where we were in the middle of an implementation and trying to sell ourselves. It would be in our best interest to have implemented successfully and have six months’ worth of data to show new perspective investors all that we have to offer. If we spend too much time on analysis and data, we lose implementation time.
From a high level, what we look for in a new software platform is a little bit of everything — reports, ease of access, efficiency, and remote access. We have a current platform that is 20 years old, so as the company has become global and we have offices in 40 different countries, that platform can’t handle the global scale, so a lot of our work gets done in spreadsheets and we lack in our ability to report. There is enough information to perform basic operations, but not enough to make good, informed decisions. We need the ability to automate monthly close, automate quarterly close, consolidate acquisitions, and consolidate various countries, inter-company exchanges, and projects. The good thing is, every single one of the platforms on our shortlist does significantly more than our current platform does. We almost can’t make a bad decision at this point in the process.
One of the main reasons I like working with ERP Advisors Group is that Shawn Windle is very experienced, and that is key. Everyone on our internal team has had some experience with these types of projects — some of it directly with ERP, some of it with regular software implementation. It’s important that you have someone who has experience with ERP specifically and someone who has relationships with the vendors and can really help to get the truth from them.
I know some firms — and one of the firms we talked to, a competitor of ours who didn’t do this first stage with a partner — did it on their own and now have an implementation partner. You can attempt to do it on your own, but you miss out on the level of industry knowledge and experience, you miss out on some of the small details that someone like ERP Advisors Group, and more specifically, someone like Shawn and his team know about. Also, if you attempt to do it on your own, then you take on your own burden of scheduling all of these demos and presentations and having them try and sell you. Having a person and a company in between this process is really valuable.
When we were in the process of demos, one product looked really great, but the presenter did not do a great job presenting the product. Shawn knows the right people to tell them that the presentation didn’t go well. So, they scoured their network for a better implementation partner. We still liked the software and wanted to move forward, but I didn’t think they were using the right implementation partner. I would not want to have to do what Shawn did for us, because I would have no idea who I should be calling to talk with, but Shawn knows and that helped a lot. Having the ability to swap the initial implementation partner group out with another was really valuable to us. If we would have chosen that vendor and ended up with that implementation partner, I don’t know if we would have been successful. That right there is worth the cost of ERP Advisors Group. The vendor sent that implementation partner to us because that’s what they thought would be best, but thankfully Shawn was there to give us other options.
I also keep returning to this theme of speed versus detail; in my company’s case, I’m pushing speed, but finance wants detail. Shawn is helping by being in between those two needs.
I wouldn’t have wanted to navigate this by myself, so having someone like Shawn there to help us out really made this process easier for us. I would definitely recommend ERP Advisors Group.