Legacy ERP and Accounting Software

How old is the version of ERP or accounting software that runs your business? Did you load last year’s update? The year before? It’s not unusual to talk to businesses that haven’t upgraded their software in 5 or more years. Some businesses are still using the same software version they installed 10 years ago.

Old Software Versions Cause Problems

an old computer from 1980. 4K memory for $900

In today’s environment, software more than a couple of years old can cause technical problems. New versions of operating systems (like Windows 10) can break old software. If the new Windows version completely breaks your software, that’s really good news. Bad news is when the new version just corrupts data and you do not discover it until after the damage is done.

The Cost of Old ERP Software

But the real cost of old software is in features unused. We were finishing an upgrade yesterday from a software version that was over 10 years old, and doing quick data checks to make sure the data converted correctly. Customer balances and vendor balances in the old version compared to the converted data is a good test. In the new software version, we had an easy-to-use list that exported to Excel for comparison. In the old version, we had a report. Using these, we verified the first eight or ten balances manually, then went to the last page and verified the total. The upgrade worked fine, by the way. But I’d forgotten how much more difficult simple things were in the old version vs. the new version.

Not only that, but to finding a report in the old version took digging around on menus. We knew the name of the report (Trial Balance), but it wasn’t in the first few places we looked. In the new version, typing “trial balance” in a search box brought the report up on a list.

These two items are the real cost of legacy software: features that you give up because the old version didn’t have them, and features that are hard to find because of the construction of the old software.

I know upgrading can be expensive, but be sure to count the cost of NOT upgrading.

The One Key to the Right ERP: Selecting ERP Software – Best Practices

I met with a client the other day. He said, “You’re different from the other ERP salespeople we’ve talked to: you actually know something about the software!”

I’d like to think that’s because I’m not an ERP salesperson…but anyway…ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING (ERP)Business team hands at work with financial reports and a laptop

And that’s the key in a sentence to selecting the right ERP. You must get the technical ERP employees (consultants, implementers, developers, trainers, etc.) involved BEFORE you buy the software. 

How do you do that? First, take a look at the suggestions we’ve made over the last year about needs analysis. Start with a good needs analysis. From your needs analysis, divide your needs into three categories: (a) Features every software product should have (you have to know something about ERP or accounting software to do this), (b) Features some, but not all, products generally have (again, you need to know the market), and (c) Features that may be difficult to find or are unique to you. The third option can also include sets of features that need to be in the solution that are unusual to find in the same product. I’m thinking about something like Point-of-sale, warranty management, service, and property management all in one product.

Now here’s the key: focus only on (c) items during the RFP and demo process. You can address (a) and (b) items later in the process when you have narrowed the field.

One last thing: the salespeople probably won’t like this approach. It means you’ll control the demo and the selection process. But it’s the way I’ve helped clients select ERP for 30 years.

More on this in later posts.