Two years ago, Riho Purje, the head of the biggest Estonian importer of office and school supplies, BDP Eesti OÜ, made a decision that changed the functioning of his enterprise remarkably – he replaced its business software. How to conduct the process of replacing, so that it would contribute to the development of the enterprise?
“Does our current business software offer the enterprise added value? Does it keep up with the developments and is it able to bring us profit?” asked Purje before replacing the business software. According to the experienced entrepreneur it is the most important to understand the needs of the enterprise and to put them on paper. Afterwards, the providers that are able to meet these needs and that make future oriented developments should be selected. “The ambition is important. There are many providers, but those that are stuck in an established routine, might not keep up with all the needs in five or seven years. And this is a problem,” he confirmed.
Actually, the enterprise had postponed the replacement of its business software for several years, being afraid of the cost of time, interruptions in the daily work and other obstacles. In retrospect, the entrepreneur admitted that he should have done the replacement much earlier. “This fear was unnecessary. The transition from Taavi Tarkvara to Erply went very quickly, smoothly and much faster than I had expected,” he confirmed. Since Purje did not only replace the business software of BDP Eesti OÜ, but also of his two other enterprises, he learned quite a lot from the transformation process. What are the three advices from the head of BDP Eesti OÜ to other entrepreneurs when replacing their business software?
“Talking to several people, I have heard that even a divorce would be easier than replacing the software. I do not know anything about the first one, but replacing the software was very easy.”
Three advises from Riho Purje, the head of BDP Eesti OÜ when replacing the business software:
1. Engage in sound preparatory work and map the needs of the enterprise.
For BDP, future developments were the most important requirement when selecting the business software. We wanted a web based economy software and our previous partners did not have this kind of developments. For BDP, the future development was the most important criteria when selecting business software. We wanted a web based economy software and our previous partner did not have such a development. A strong stock record and people with a vision were especially important for us. We wanted to have a partner that would keep up with the time and would be able to offer us solutions we need. Analysing several providers during thorough preparatory work, three companies were preselected – Microsoft Dynamics Nav, Directo and Erply. We met the representatives of the three companies. All of them had their plusses and minuses, but firstly, the solution offered by Microsoft dropped out of the selection procedure, because it was rather like an expensive tailor suit that was much more expensive.
Face-to-face meetings is something that Purje also advises to other entrepreneurs. It helps to separate the wheat from the chaff. In the last round, Directo and Erply were quite equal and the details became decisive. We felt that Erply has a team that is much more innovative and ambitious. The other detail was that in our estimation, Directo is a big elephant that has many major functions in one software. Our final decision was based on our belief that a team built on apps is more able to solve problems operatively and to keep up with the time than a team that has to administer a giant thing. I advise to opt for a software that is in a cloud, because it also helps to decrease running costs on IT. There is no need for an IT guy or for amortizing your own servers. This kind of saving may be double as big as the monthly fee.
At the same time, I would like to emphasize that it is important to select a software that is able to keep the enterprise’s data safe. It was our priority to be able to concentrate on our business activities and to feel that our data is safe. We do not have to spend time on contemplating whether everything is going smoothly. The IT partner has to be able to guarantee the safety and to show that its solutions are up to date.
2. Prepare for the transformation
Although BDP felt a need for replacement of its business software already a couple of years ago, the process was constantly shifted. In retrospect, it was a big mistake, because first, after the replacement the enterprise understood explicitly which solutions sound business software should offer and how it helps to improve the work processes of the enterprise.
As the owner of the enterprise I feared the transition very much. When taking it with a grain of salt, talking to several people, I have heard that even a divorce would be easier than replacing the software. I do not know anything about the first one, but replacing the software went very easy. Erply has a strong helpdesk and in every question, we got operative help. This step should not be feared or shifted endlessly.
However, I would like to emphasize that it is reasonable to prepare the transformation as much as possible. It would be good to fill in all the names and boxes. The basis software should be prepared. This makes the transformation even quicker and smoother. It is worth to ask your partners what you could do yourself to make the transformation as quick and comfortable as possible.
3. Everything starts with communication
In retrospect, I advise to choose a partner that wishes and is able to understand the client and fulfil the client’s wishes in the development process. The communicational ability is a key issue here. When the client asks for an absurd thing, it is important that the service provider is able to reply to the question and to explain why certain wishes may not be useful in the long run. The overall communication skills are vital. The client hast to be able to explain and say what he or she wants and the representative of the business software company has to be able to understand and fulfil the customer’s wishes. The old and the new business software of our company are like day and night. The level is much different from the past. If you have been doubting and fearing the changes, you should familiarise yourself with the innovative software and find out how you could profit form it at the market at all. The world is changing every day and business software have changed along with it.
At the same time, I advise not to listen to the financial staff and accountants too much when choosing business software. When it comes to stock records, the advice of the accountants might not be the most adequate one. Entrepreneurs probably tend to listen to their accountants on these questions, but stock records and accounting might not be the same thing.