Why, When and How to Migrate to new Business Software
In the last 12 Months we have gathered around 300 enquiries from Australian Small businesses, who as yet are undecided about If to Migrate or What to Migrate too.
Different Business owners have different needs and challenges. Many also have a different opinion about how much they should spend on Software or more to the point how much it's worth to their business.
Many small business owners pay around $1,000 / Month on a company car, a depreciating asset that sits in a car space 20 Hours a day, sells for a fraction of what you pay for it, and then start again.
Yet many would scoff at investing a fraction of that on a monthly basis, on Software to run the business that pays for that car. Some would say, My Software works just fine, knowing there could be improvements such as Connectivity, Mobility, Better, faster and more accurate Inventory Control, Cost and Selling price control, B2B and B2C Integration, the list goes on.
What's 10% of your stock worth? That's likely to be Obsolete and Slow movers
What's 8% of your stock worth? That's likely to be cashflow consuming overstocks
What's 7% of your sales worth? That's likely to be lost sales due to Short Supplies or Overpricing
What's an extra 3% of profit worth to you? That's likely to be Profit Margin you're missing out on
What's 5% of your wages worth? That's likely time waisted from inefficiencies
The numbers don't lie – based on an inventory of $200,000 and a Turnover of 1 million the above represents around $130,000.00
Is Season the Key?
We migrate many new clients onto peach every year, different types of businesses with different markets. Many in the Parts and Agricultural industries, so for them season plays a big part in their sales patterns. They will migrate in and off season.
Should you wait for your software to fail?
This places undue pressure on your business and your staff, not to mention the dissatisfaction from customers due to a system becoming clunky or unusable. 95% of our new clients come from an existing application which we migrate their data from. This includes their Sales invoices, Debtor Balances, Products, Pricing structures and so much more. If the system you are migrating from becomes even partially dysfunctional, then the migration will suffer.
Should I cleanse my current system before migrating?
The reason you are moving on is likely that it's the system you are on that has either caused the messy data due to being inflexible or inefficiencies in keeping the data clean. So, no! move to the new system and then start working on the data. A great deal can be achieved by working with the person doing the migration, to tidy up data at the database level during the migration.
I'm just not ready Yet
Completely understood, why fix something not broke (YET). The truth is that the motivation to move is the sum of the pain being experienced now. So how bad does the pain need to be before you do move. It's likely to get worse and then the migration is going to be put on a tighter schedule which loses the luxury of due diligence. Don't wait until it becomes a rush Job as this can be a very stressful time.
I'm too busy
The problem with small business is that you get stuck working in the business instead of on the business. Try going to work one day when you have full staff and just walk around. You're likely to identify numerous motivations to find better ways to work and you'll come home with some great ideas. One of those ideas will hinge on a better Importing, Warehousing, Wholesaling or Point of Sale system. Don't be chained to the inner working of your business.
Above all understand that it's not an easy journey, so take your time and think ahead. Nothing should be left till the last minute. Understand what you and your staff ideally want, make a list, and then start your search, one great place to start is by talking to other local small businesses about their systems, especially if their business has similar needs. Some examples are Auto Parts and Stationery or Bearings and Fasteners or Fishing Tackle and Hardware. All these have inventory centric businesses. Once you have found 2-3 possibilities, contact the providers and get a trial which should last at least a couple of months, even better if it has some test data in it so you can run through some scenarios. If you think you have found your ideal system then ask that company to do a Data Migration rehearsal for two reasons. 1. It will prove their competency and willingness 2. You can run real scenarios with real data to see if the outcomes are what you desire. Hopefully while you have this trial you will have access to their support as well so you can call and ask questions and check that their service is acceptable. They may charge you for this but it's well worth it, at the end of the day you want to be sure you can work with the system and the company before placing your entire business in their hands. Once satisfied book ahead so you can plan the timing to suite your business and perhaps even work around staff annual leave etc.
What to look out for
As much as you look around, no one solution is going to meet all your needs. It's an accepted fact these days that you may need 2 or 3 solutions working together to give you the best outcome. 1 is acceptable 2 can be good and three can give you everything you need. So, make sure the system you choose has the ability to integrate with other applications such as a Payroll or eCommerce solution. Talk these integrations through and ask the company who they integrate with to fulfil that area.
Some other things you should be aware of are…
Is the company you deal with the Originators of the Software or are they resellers? If you have a new Feature Need or have discovered a bug, then a reseller would have to refer the matter back to the Originator of the application. This may work well but there are cases where details are lost in translation or going back and forth can become frustrating. The Reseller can also fall out of favour with the originator which means you do too. Can you deal directly with the Originator? If you can this is ideal, especially if they take phone calls from their customers. That would be a gold standard.
Is the company in Australia?, do they develop the software for Australia and do they support the software from Australia? If as an example the support is done offshore then the time difference may mean there is a 24-hour lead time on replies or language and cultural differences. If you can call someone in an offshore support centre during our business hours you may also find that those operators are simply 1st level support since it may be after hours where they are, and you will have to wait until the cavalry, come back to work Monday morning so to speak.
What type of support will you get?
Here are some of the possibilities and how I would rate their efficiency and effectiveness.
Email, Ticket or Chats “Inefficient”
It's a well-known fact that with emails, chats & Tickets, the questions and answers can go back and forth many, many, times before you and the support person are on the same page, and with these sorts of support it's likely you will be spending your precious time dealing with a 1st level support person or non-English speaker hidden behind the keyboard. So, its also likely you will be spending a lot of time and emotions explaining the problem before they understand let alone provide an answer
Phone Call to live operator “Better”
When you have a live operator, you can describe the problem so much easier and if the support person doesn't understand or needs to clarify some details, it can be done right there and then. They can come back to you and you can get back to work. If this is the companies culture then your also more likely to be able to speak to a higher level operator if need be.
Phone Call to operator who can log onto your screen “Best”
This is a gold standard of support because you can actually show the support person the problem or they can provide instant training by showing you how to complete a specific task. It cannot be overstated that having a support person logging onto your screen can literally save hours going back and forth. It also ensures that you are utilising the most effective tools available to you in the software suite. Ongoing training is ever so much more efficient than Forums, Instructions or guessing your way through. Even years later you may ask a question and the operator can take you on a journey into areas of the software you have never explored.
Does the software company have people available to visit and provide coaching or training? You may find that having an application experienced person come to site can gain a lot of insight into your business just by walking around. They can come away providing ideas on how you can better use the application in your business and perhaps even some ideas about how small changes could be made to the application to improve functionality for your and others businesses.
The Technology and Updates
Ask about the technologies and infrastructure the software requires, especially if you have multiple branches or multiple operating systems. A modern application should be able to work across multiple platforms such as Microsoft, Mac, android and even iOS. PC's Laptops Tablets and Phones should all be catered for. Infrastructure requirements such as beefy Servers or VPN's should not be required for small businesses up to 20 users, even where there are multiple branches due to modern technologies and operating platforms. The speed of the software is paramount, a well designed application can operate at a very satisfactory pace even if the internet speed is lacking. To check the speed of the application run a large report, say 500 pages, and see how long it takes to appear. Now scroll down through the pages and see if they are all pre-generated, or if they need to refresh every time you move to the next page, this can be very boring. How easy is it to get data into and out of the system, and what about price files from suppliers, can these be imported? Features such as Emailing all documents including statements and perhaps texting. When running a report can this be opened by other applications such as excel so you can manipulate the data and can you write and save your own reports?
Migrating to a new software application is a big job and can pay off big time, but preparation and taking your time can have a positive impact on the journey. So don't wait until it's too late to enjoy the luxury of time. Start the search process sooner than later, and make sure the company is there even before you need them.
Remember you don't know what you don't know about the great features available with new systems. They can save you a lot of time and money if you get it right.