We knew we needed a new software system because our previous system had been selected maybe ten years ago, and our business had changed so much that it just didn’t align with the needs of our business any longer. For example, as we’ve grown, we’ve had to work in up to 14 separate databases. We knew we were doing a lot of redundant work that couldn’t have been solved through the platform we were on.
I found out about ERP Advisors Group through an IT person at a previous company I worked with. Shawn Windle, the Founder and Managing Principal of EAG, had come and talked to some of us there. That company also had the exact same problem of redundant databases. So, I knew EAG from that meeting a number of years ago.
We decided to work with ERP Advisors Group because, as we started the process of taking on a new ERP, we thought A, we don’t have a ton of capacity and B, it’s certainly not our area of expertise. Deciding to get help from EAG made a world of difference. The Needs Analysis we did at the beginning of our project was a great process. Our VP of IT just recently said that it was one of the best processes they had been through.
Ultimately, we ended up choosing Microsoft Dynamics 365 as our new ERP. But we didn’t have a clear frontrunner going into the final processes.
We chose Dynamics 365 because from an IT perspective we’re a through-and-through Microsoft shop, so Dynamics 365 aligned really well with our IT environment. Then on the accounting side, honestly, I think either product was close to being chosen but there was an enormous price differential. So, it was a huge process to work through, deciding between the two applications. We had to ask ourselves, what are we getting for the added cost? Is it value added?
Dynamics 365 came with some great solutions for us, that were pretty innovative, that we really liked. But the whole thing was a really thorough process. We didn’t want to presuppose what we needed or who was the best fit. We really wanted to do the hard work to get to the right answer. The team at ERP Advisors Group was great at helping us through that. They didn’t give up until we got to our final decision, which was great.
At the end of the day, I think we felt very comfortable that either of those selections would have been wholly sufficient to meet our needs. But then we had to ask ourselves what is the right pricing model? Who do we want to partner with long-term? We had to work through those nuances and both teams were fantastic, and we really had a great experience.
It was funny, we started with four potential partners that we actually met with, and two got dropped very quickly, and then the other two were tough. We went through an awful lot of detail and it took a lot of time, but I think this is the sort of decision where you need to invest a lot of time up front to make sure it’s the right decision. Which was absolutely why we wanted to bring someone else on and help us through the process.
This is the first full-blown ERP implementation that I’ve done. I’ve done tons and tons of system implementations in my career in almost 30 years. But it’s not very often that companies change their ERP. That is a big undertaking, and it’s expensive.
Honestly, it was truly astounding for us – in a year of COVID and being a travel and recreation company – that we had zero problem getting approval to move this project forward, and the costs associated with it. Because I think the need was so obvious and the work we did and the selection, the diligence of it, was so clear and evident that it just sailed through approvals. I mean how often does anyone approve a million dollars for accounting to spend? Accounting never gets to spend a million dollars. And I think that really spoke to how well we did the work up front. It was really an easy sell.
During the process of working with ERP Advisors Group, we learned about solutions and partners that we might not have known. We knew some of the big names, we all know Oracle and a lot of us had PeopleSoft background, and we all knew Workday. But there were a couple of Microsoft products that I don’t think we had a ton of familiarity with. So, to some degree we were introduced to some new players, but we’re large enough that we kind of knew the space we’d be in. So, from that standpoint EAG definitely brought us some solutions that we might not have looked at.
I think what was bigger than that, and especially because we chose Dynamics 365, was finding the partnership with a team that’s going to help us build this and implement it. That was enormous because we might have been able to find 365 on our own but we might not have been as successful finding a preferred partner. I think they really set themselves apart by some of what they proposed to us in terms of some of the solutions we will work toward building. That absolutely came about because of EAG and the work they did up front. This is a project that we don’t want to screw up. We need to make sure that we do it right start to finish. I think the partnership with that partner will be a really positive thing for us and we feel really confident in it.
The team at ERP Advisors Group was really responsive to what we wanted. They had a great framework and they said to us, “here’s the process — we’re going to do this and then we’re going to talk to these people.” That was great and that is what we didn’t have. So, when we took two vendors to final selection — I don’t know if that’s very normal or not — the team at EAG were really agile with us as we wanted to do things a little differently or speed up or slow down in certain places.
The adaptability of EAG with us, in terms of defining the process was really helpful and that’s what we needed. We didn’t need someone to help us understand what an ERP solution is. We knew what we needed, we just needed somebody to help us navigate the process in the right way. The work ERP Advisors Group did up front with vendors was so helpful. They took that off our plates and got us the answers we needed without us having to invest a ton of time into it, which was exactly what we had been looking for.
I think the success of our implementation was a combination of factors. We knew what we needed, and we know what systems can do. So, it was leveraging the team at ERP Advisors Group to help us navigate that, but we also weren’t relying on them to help us learn those things.
I think it was a really great collaboration. We leaned on EAG for the areas we knew they had the expertise in, such as the Needs Analysis, the templates, all those pieces. But we had an in-depth knowledge of what we were looking for, and I think the two really partnered well together.
We had a great experience, and I would recommend ERP Advisors Group to anyone looking to update their software. Hands-down we would happily work with them again. I would have absolutely no qualms about making that recommendation. I also have no doubts that our VP of Finance and VP of IT would happily recommend EAG as well.