We initially contacted EAG in 2022. We did an evaluation of six to eight ERP systems and narrowed it down to three to go a bit deeper. Ultimately, we made our selection and then began the data migration work. Fortunately, the company was steadily involved throughout the entire process.
From my perspective, the process went better than expected because I've heard all the nightmares about ERP implementations, and this is the first one that I have personally been through. We started off on small accounting software and ran it right up until the point where we moved to our new solution, so I would say, it went well.
We were well past due in terms of needing to get onto a more robust ERP system. The other thing I should mention is that we had acquired another brand just a year prior that was on a different ERP system, so the other wrinkle in all of this is that we weren't really doing just one ERP implementation, in a sense we were doing two.
Our original solution was not ready for prime time, and we were having scalability issues. It had gotten to the point where certain scenarios would require single-user mode so only one person could use the software until it was finished processing which could take 20 or more minutes in certain cases. Once the user finished in single-user mode, they’d have to send an email saying, “Okay, you can get back on”. That was disruptive to our business and a real productivity killer. Also with the acquisition, we wanted to be on the same platform. We did evaluate the platform they were on, but it just was not as modern as some of the other systems that were available. Our new cloud-based platform has solved all our scalability issues and has given us much more robust capabilities.
It was a challenge moving one of our brands from the small accounting software to the chosen solution and then another brand from a different solution to the new one but doing it in a way where we harmonized that as much as possible, even though they're separate subsidiaries. They are similar businesses, so we have identical charts of accounts and those types of things. There was a significant amount of planning to ensure we also made the right decision for implementation. Originally, we were thinking we might sequence go-live starting with Real Avid and then a couple of months later, going live with the other entity, but thank goodness we made the decision to do both at the same time. That was the right decision in the end.
Part of our success was the assistance we had from a partner of ours introduced through our private equity firm. He has worked with ERP Advisors Group before and understands our business well, so that was incredibly important in terms of how smoothly things went. His having done this before helped us avoid some potholes along the way. Shawn and his team were also very beneficial and really helped us through the planning process, to understand what to expect, and the importance of the data migration piece of it.
Successfully hitting our go-live date was a combination of EAG’s services that helped us stay on track and then having our experienced partner involved. Another important factor in our success was having our own very qualified senior employee who led our ERP implementation internally along with a group of dedicated employees. Having a senior person who knew the business inside and out and whose full-time job was ultimately ensuring the project was a success was vital. It’s the combination of these things that allowed us to keep things moving along as efficiently as we did and have a successful, on-time launch.
EAG helped us execute a successful project in a few ways, including setting expectations, project management, and the experience of having been through this so many times and saying, “Look, this is really, really important, and here's why”. Establishing that sense of urgency around critical path items was such an important piece of the entire project. Then the regular project management element of it, which is making sure that the trains are running on time and always knowing what things needed to be accomplished, and when, was truly beneficial.
There is no doubt that we made the right decision to get into a new ERP system. I feel good about the platform we chose and am seeing significant benefits of having both brands on the same platform. We still have things to debug, but that was to be expected because you don’t know what you need to adjust or improve until it is encountered.