We have written on the topic of custom and legacy applications and the risks that business owners are taking with their data and their company over the last few years and without fail, it continues to be an issue for prospects that I visit in the Dynamics GP sales process. I understand that businesses, especially manufacturing companies have expenses that other industries do not have such as plant equipment; maintenance, labor for production, etc., and that many companies let their business software from the last century limp along. Investing in new ERP software is just not a priority for some manufacturers and this can be a huge mistake.
The bad news is that running archaic unsupported software is just bad for business. Some companies can make do with paper and pencil if the system goes down… some companies will be out of business if their system goes down. Many legacy systems are also heavily customized because back in the day, out of the box software just did not have all the features or functionality needed to satisfy customers. What was great 15 years ago is not so great today. For example, getting support on a Fox Pro database from 1999 can be impossible, expensive and risky.
Is Your Business at Risk Due to Unsupported Legacy Software?
Ask a trusted adviser to help you answer the following questions and then decide how much risk you are willing to take with your business.
Is there a pool of support personnel available for the software if you need support? For example, do a search on Dynamics GP Consultants and then on Foxpro Consultantsand compare the results. With mainstream products in use, your business is not held hostage by one or two resources that can help you with your software.
Can you run your software on current server operating systems? (are you getting a good off-site daily backup?)
How much are you spending on resources and staff to support your legacy systems?
What would you do if you lost your primary resource? This does happen. If you are relying on one person to ‘know’ your database and critical processes then you are putting your business at a huge risk.
How much will it cost your business in lost productivity if your system goes down? Even if you have backup, you have to be sure you have the hardware environment to get the backup data to run.
Is it heavily customized? Are the customizations documented? If your programmer left unexpectedly, would your business suffer?
Do you have staff and resources that make a living supporting your software?
Do you think you are saving money by not moving to new software?
Buying New ERP Software: Tips and Tricks to Reduce Your Business Risks
The good news is that there is help to get your business data in the 21st century and retain most of the features that you enjoy in your legacy system. Software has come a long, long way over the last few years and it is hard to NOT find a software solution that fits every business regardless of the industry – but they are not CUSTOM so don’t expect to have every little feature you have now. Mainstream software packages also have so much more in the way of reporting and business intelligence too. Not only will you reduce your company’s risk, you will increase your competitiveness, probably reduce labor costs by reassigning staff, plus many more improvements, and you can sleep at night!
Don’t over-complicate the new software purchase! Keep it simple and focus on replacing your current processing requirements first. Add more features later!
Have a realistic budget in mind – good software is not cheap. Do you want cheap or good?
Consider leasing the software – Leasing is an added dimension to your company’s utilization of working capital. Company resources may be better allocated to extra marketing efforts or inventory fluctuations. Leasing frees up that capital to expand sales and profitability.
Consider deployment options carefully… don’t run to the cloud just because someone said it was the thing to do… Cloud applications are not always the best option for business software and do not always save money.
Set up a reasonable time frame for new software selection and stick to it.
Don’t contact every vendor in the world… work with a couple of vendors that are well known and that have experience in your industry.
Utilize the training and setup services that your vendor recommends – why buy software and then not set it up properly?
Keep positive throughout the process to ensure buy-in from your team.
Use this opportunity to eliminate bad habits and learn best practices from your consulting company.
Keep your software maintenance up-to-date and upgrade every 2 to 3 years and keep current!
You will always be busy. You will always have better things to do with your cash flow. I have witnessed the perils of a business relying on unsupported software and then the worst happens…but the company was just too busy to take the time to evaluate a new system and relate the replacement expense to what they were paying in resources to maintain the system. Do not let the worst happen to your business.
Contact your local Dynamics Partner to discuss your risks and the costs to reduce your risks with mainstream ERP.
Nancy Phillippi is the Manufacturing Software Sales Manager at Custom Information Services (CIS). CIS is a Microsoft Partner and offers Dynamics GP solutions as well as Managed IT Services. CIS is located in North Texas. Contact Nancy at 817-640-0016 or [email protected]