For the past few weeks, I have been working with a new client who was so frustrated with their Acumatica system that they were ready to throw it out and start over. Sounds pretty bad, doesn’t it? Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending that involves saving the client over 40 hours a month in wasted time.
This client had a new management team, and felt it was time for a fresh start. Their team was unhappy with how manual their accounting processes were, especially since they had taken the time and energy to upgrade to a modern ERP solution. They were disillusioned with the product, and felt that all of the value and efficiencies that had been promised had never been realized. For example:
Customizations weren’t working
System response times were slow due to performance issues
Basic tasks took a long time and included several steps
Data imports were very slow and took a lot of file prep
Finding the Source of Issues
Privately held, founded in 1986
185 employees, not including franchises
650+ fast food and quick-serve restaurants
Locations in 45 states and 19 countries
Mix of franchises and corporate-owned stores
Finding the Source of Issues
We start every engagement with discovery. This entails in-depth interviews with the client’s key team, asking them to walk me through their daily tasks. We don’t talk about what they’re going to do with the new system. We focus on what they are doing now. I take screenshots and capture recordings so we can review them later.
Our modular approach, reviewing processes from beginning to end with all of the key players in the company, gives me a good feel for the gaps in efficiency and where clients can leverage Acumatica’s out- of-the-box features and functions. This discovery process allowed me to determine that this client:
Was still using an old version of the software (so old, they were at risk of it being unsupported by the publisher)
Wasn’t leveraging even a fraction of the features available in Acumatica
Had not been trained to use even basic tools that could make them more efficient
Was at the wrong transaction resource level (processing power)
Had unnecessarily complex import scenarios
It’s not uncommon to find issues like these in an implementation, and fixing them isn’t always the most exciting task. But we believe in transparency and telling our clients the truth, even when it’s hard.
Fixing the Easy Stuff
The good news for this client is that there were a lot of easy fixes to be had – things that took 15 minutes or less to figure out and change. Here are just a few:
Example 1: Managing Payables
In Acumatica you can easily pull up a list of payables. But the default view is a list of ALL payables, no matter the status. Most users don’t need to see the entire list from the beginning of time. This particular user was clicking the filters and sorting the list each time they accessed it. They didn’t realize that they could filter the items they want and create a tab with just those items. These tabs can be set at the organization level or at the individual level. Now the user has a tab for Open Payables and a tab for Pending Approval Payables. This 2-minute training eliminated repetitious steps and aggravation.
Example 2: Importing Transactions
The client was importing AR transactions and the cash receipts that went with them. It was a very slow process – typically taking about an hour and a half to finish. I took a look at their import scenario and found it pretty cumbersome. I was able to make one change to the import file and eliminate five of those steps to prepare the file which simplified their process. Along with critical server improvements, this change reduced their import time from an hour-and-a-half down to just 11 minutes.
Example 3: Adjusting System Resource Levels
The file import wasn’t the only process that was running slow. As we went through other areas of the system, we noticed that everything was slow. The system was lagging just about everywhere. Part of this was due to them running an old version, which we were able to fix by upgrading. But another area that had a significant impact was the “resource level”, which is how much processing power you need. I took a look at their resource level and realized they just needed to go up a level. The client didn’t have any idea they could throttle up Acumatica in this way. It’s not something your average user would know.
Finally, part of our discovery process included our IT team taking a look at their SQL settings. We noticed an improper setting, which took the IT folks about six minutes to change, and improved their server performance significantly.
Example 4: Manually Coding Invoices
The client processes approximately 3,000 invoices a month from a variety of food vendors, often from the same vendors each month. They needed to separate out the types of items on the invoices as either Food, Paper or Cleaning. To do this, they were printing out the invoices, highlighting the different types of items, handwriting the details on the bills, and adding them up manually on a 10-key. Then they’d summarize the costs in an Excel sheet. This process alone took four to six hours each day.
I took the downloaded files from each vendor, and using non-stock items for the categories of Food, Paper and Cleaning, created an import scenario that splits out the line items with the push of a button. The first time they ran the new import scenario, they imported a file with 2,800 lines. The system created 300 invoices in about 12 minutes. Now all they have to do is eyeball the import file to make sure it is in the right format, make any minor changes needed, import it; and if the total matches, they don’t have to look at the individual invoices. They’re done! Eliminating this manual process saves the client upwards of 30 hours a month.
A bonus feature: One of the employees needed monthly summaries of Paper and Cleaning costs. To get this, he was pulling the trial balance detail, dumping it to Excel, deleting what he didn’t want, and then summarizing the items he did want. We created an inquiry for him that tallied a quick summary of paper and cleaning costs. He can run it by date with the push of a button, saving him 25 minutes every time he runs the report.
Important Takeaways for Deploying a New ERP Platform:
If you’re thinking about moving to Acumatica or any other ERP, here are some important things to consider in your planning process:
A thorough discovery process is invaluable. This requires an investment by the customer, for sure. But thorough discovery allows our team to truly understand you, your business, and the things that are important to you.
Focus on the processes. Outline the work-arounds and paper-based tasks you are using (or let an Algorithm expert help you). Most clients don’t know what to look for, so we can help you identify inefficiencies in your processes with features, tools and add-ins.
Fix the foundation first. While you might have big dreams of implementing advanced functions (royalty management, matrix inventory, and more) and can hardly wait to get going; it is critical to fix the base of your system first. Pick the low-hanging fruit and get some quick wins for the team so they’ll be excited about what’s to come. Then you can add on the fancy stuff and be assured it will actually work!
Don’t skimp on training. I don’t think I can stress this enough. Not only is it important when you are going live on a new system, it is critical on an ongoing basis. Great software publishers are constantly improving their products and bringing new features to market. You want a partner that is keeping you current on the system and all that it can do for your business.
It Takes Time
This client is steadily chipping away at the foundational fixes with our help. And with close to 400 subsidiaries, a variety of ownership structures, parent companies, and more, it takes a bit of time. But the payoff is huge: their team saves more than 40 hours every single month from these simple changes. It’s changed their lives.
Algorithm makes sure your system is on a rock-solid, right-sized foundation. While we can’t promise that you’ll save 40 hours a week , we can dive into your Acumatica environment and help you find every quick win and shortcut available to you.
Does any of this ring true for you? Manual processes, lack of training on your ERP, or not using the functionality available? Maybe you are on a legacy system and the technology platform is holding you back? Contact our Solutions Team for a free consultation to discuss options.