Don’t Buy the Cheaper No-Name ERP Software (or Sunscreen) or You Could Get Burned

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Have you ever tried to get away with buying a cheaper brand but ended up bitterly regretting it later? And then spending twice as much later to repair the damage?  I learned an important life lesson this week - if you need a product to be really effective, don’t risk bad results by buying the no name product just because it is cheaper. This is true for accounting software....and for sunscreen.

This week I am vacationing at a resort on the “Turiksh Riviera”.  It is an amazing place with food, fun and lots and lots of sun. I went to the hotel shop to purchase sunscreen.  The imported name brand I knew was very expensive. So I decided to buy the cheaper Turkish brand. SPF 25, water resistant etc... Sunscreen is all the same, right? Wrong! I have the red hot burn to show how wrong I was.  What I bought was some kind of white cream that looked like sunscreen, but certainly did not provide the protection of real sunscreen. I learned the hard way. Since the results were important to me I should have paid more money to get the product that I knew would fulfill my needs, from a reputable brand name that I know and trust.

Since I now have plenty of time to sit inside the hotel, out of the sun, I figured I would share my little life lesson/travel tip with you and relate it to ERP software. (Because after all, doesn’t everything in life somehow relate to ERP Software?)

Many companies I have worked with compare Microsoft Dynamics GP accounting software vs. a less well know industry specific vertical software packages.  I am certainly not going to tell you that all other accounting software except Microsoft is as worthless as Turkish sunscreen. But there are a few things i think you should keep in mind:

1) Even if the features seem the same, don’t automatically buy the cheapest product.

Accounting software all looks the same, right? General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable - money in and money out.  So some buyers assume that if they compare the cost of accounting software packages that all appear to do the same functions, they might as well choose the cheaper option.  But I think the Deloitte and Touch report mentioned in this post (Choosing an ERP System – So Many Things to Think About!) is extremely telling.  It compares the top 10 buying criteria of companies the first time they purchased ERP Software vs. the second time. The first time price was the #1 deciding factor.  The second time “Level of support from the solution provider” was #1 and price was knocked down to #5.  Experienced ERP software buyers realize that choosing the cheaper price is not always the best decision, or even the least expensive in the long run by the time you spend money to fill the gaps or repair the damage.

2) When the results really matter, don’t buy a brand you have never heard of.

When you purchase Microsoft Dynamics GP you are buying a tested, proven product from a brand name you use and trust.  You know that Microsoft has a reputation to uphold and that it will be around for the long term.  Now, I am not saying the independent brands are always inferior. I save a lot of money at the market by buying generic. But I buy generic when the results do not really matter all the much.   Accounting software is the backbone of your business, and getting the wrong product is much more than just a momentary inconvenience. So do you really want to take the chance?

3) If you are evaluating a new product, do your homework and buy from experts who care about your results.

If you are evaluating several ERP software choices you need to have someone you can trust (not just the salesman) be able to confirm that each will give you the concrete results you want. Read industry reports, ask colleges in similar industries, find case studies, read references.  And then buy the software from someone who cares if your implementation is a success. If you buy Microsoft Dynamics GP from us at CAL Business Solutions, we care if you are happy. It means the success of our business because we want you to stay a happy client for a very long time.  Look for an ERP Software partner that values its clients, check customer references and longevity. Even though I complained, I doubt very much that the Turkish shop owner cares in the slightest that I now resemble a shiny red tomato and will spend my vacation indoors.  He knows I will be gone at the end of the week. (Although I guess he has never heard of and the power of an unhappy customer with an internet connection.)

4) Buy From a Specialist

This is related to #3, but when you choose your “experts” I personally feel that you should look for a company that truly “lives and breathes” accounting/ERP software.  There are many small IT companies, even Microsoft partners, who specialize in IT support or hardware but also sell some accounting software on the side.  It is a very small percentage of their business. And they probably don’t even use the accounting software they sell to run their own business.  When I bought my sunscreen, the shop owner likely had never used it himself, and if this product is bad and nobody buys it, oh well, he can sell something else. A company that has built their business on selling and supporting a specific brand of accounting software will be truly invested in your success. CAL Business Solutions has sold Dynamics GP for since 1997 to over 200 companies - so we know it works.

5) Don’t assume that just because the product claims to have the same features,that it is telling the truth.

For example, Microsoft can not advertise features that a product does not include.  If you want to buy a “generic” software package from an independent vendor you do not have this same level of guarantee.  They may claim that the product includes a feature such as “inventory management” but are you really sure that they mean the same thing you mean? And will it provide the level of management you are expecting? Is the accounting software GAAP compliant, has it passed any kind of certifications? If you are not happy with what you purchased, will the company stand behind the product? Will they even still be around to help you?

6) Don’t buy a product made by someone who has different priorities or standards than you do.

I initially thought I had been deliberately cheated into buying worthless “snake-oil” (which I still think may be true.) But some sympathetic and wiser tourists told me that because Turkish people are naturally dark skinned, sunscreen does not have the same value or importance to them as it does to us pasty white Americans. So SPF 25 for them provides much less protection that we are used to and sometimes can even include ingredients like bleach to make the skin lighter. To them, it works just fine. To me, not so much. Same product, different expectations.  Very often, industry specific software packages are very good in one particular area of specialty (such as distribution, healthcare or staffing) but the actual financial features are weak. This is simply not what they are most concerned about.  In their minds, the industry features are the driving force and the financial features are “good enough”. But if the quality of the back office financial features really matter to you, you will not be happy with this product.  At CAL Business Solutions we feel that Microsoft Dynamics GP is the best financial software choice because it is a strong, stable, full featured backbone accounting system. But if you want more, Dynamics GP also has an open architecture so it can easily be integrated with a front office/add on system that is specific to your industry.  Everyone does what they do best and you get the results that you want.

So in conclusion, if you are looking for a great vacation resort I recommend Flora Garden Beach Club in Turkey (as long as you don’t buy the sunscreen) and if you are looking for a great ERP/accounting software recommendation contact CAL Business Solutions. 860-485-0910 or [email protected]

By CAL Business Solutions, Connecticut/Massachusetts Microsoft Dynamics GP Experts.

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