March 22, 2019

What software vendors won’t tell you about their implementation services

More businesses than ever before are starting to make the move towards cloud accounting and inventory software.

And with the Making Tax Digital requirement coming up this year for VAT-registered businesses, plenty of companies are feeling the pressure to bring their systems up to the modern standard.

To meet this new demand, some inventory software vendors are starting to offer their own scaled-down implementation services – offering limited advice and guidance to businesses who are trying to choose the best new software for their futures.

On the face of it, that’s great news:

We’re always happy to see more companies trying to get a better grip on the inner workings of their businesses. And with these advanced bits of software, they should be able to get access to the kinds of real-time reporting, powerful insights, and time-saving processes that can help them see bigger success.

But here’s the reality of the situation:

We’re hearing more and more cases of businesses being mis-sold on these systems.

In just the last few months, we’ve had more than 15 enquiries from UK businesses who have come to us because the software they were sold by these vendors has caused them massive errors in their accounting.

And sadly, most of these businesses have only realised there’s a problem long after they’ve bought the software.

What’s happening to these businesses?

Here’s the typical story we’ve been hearing from these companies:

  • The accounting and inventory software works in a certain fixed way
  • The business looking to buy didn’t ask the right questions during the sales process with the software vendor
  • The software vendor didn’t mention the potential incompatibility with their business
  • And it’s only much later – when these businesses come to do their quarterly VAT returns – that they realise there are serious inaccuracies in the data going through to their accounting systems.

(In particular, there are massive discrepancies in the calculations of their cost of goods and inventory valuation.)

So how is it possible that so many businesses are being mis-sold on the inventory software they buy?

To answer that, we’ll need to have an honest and transparent dig into the business models of two very different types of company:

The people who create and sell inventory software, and the people like us who bring businesses onto this software.

To answer that, we’ll need to have an honest and transparent dig into the business models of two very different types of company:

The people who create and sell inventory software, and the people like us who bring businesses onto this software.

How software vendors make their money

As you might imagine, these vendors are app developers first and foremost.

Their main focus is on creating, developing, and improving an amazing product – and then finding businesses to sell it to.

And they’re really good at it.

But when they’re not focused on one thing (creating and improving products), they’re focused on another thing (making sales).

So when you get in touch with a software vendor, you’ll usually be put through to their sales department.

These sales teams have an incentive to hit targets. They’re driven by leads and sign-ups, and they want to get the highest number of businesses using their product as quickly as possible.

The people who are advising you about the best solution for your business are the same people who want you to buy their system.

This isn’t a criticism of these software vendors – it’s just how their business model needs to operate.

But as we’ve seen with our recent enquiries from unhappy businesses, this approach can create problems.

Businesses looking for a solution to their inventory and accounting problems tend to get over-promised during this sales process.

They hear a lot of enthusiasm for the product and what it can do, and they’ll often hear vague promises of upcoming features when they ask about their specific concerns.

And the result?

These businesses are rushed towards a commitment – only to discover later that they don’t know how to fix the potential problems they have.

How we make our money at BlueHub

As an implementation partner to many of these software vendors, we don’t suffer from the same sales-based incentives.

The majority of our revenue comes from:

  • Implementing your new systems
  • Training you and your staff to use your new systems properly
  • And guiding and supporting your business throughout and after your change.

We’re not focused on selling you a particular product.

We’re focused on helping you choose the best solution, making sure you know how to get the most out of it, and predicting and fixing any potential problems you might face along the way.

Or in other words:

We make our money out of your success.

That’s not some throwaway sentiment. That’s exactly how our business is built.

We don’t make money by selling you one specific package. And we don’t make it by rushing you towards any particular commitment.

So how is our sales process different?

We’ve already seen how a typical software vendor’s sales process works.

But when you choose a dedicated implementation partner (like us), you won’t run into the same problems.

And here’s why:

1.     We don’t just say ‘yes’

We have no special incentive to get you using any particular software package (except by making the best recommendations to help you succeed).

We’ll help you assess the different options you have, and we’ll talk you through any potential problems and incompatibilities you might face – based on the specific situation and needs of your business.

And because of this, the whole process will feel different when compared with speaking to a software vendor’s sales team.

There’ll be a bit less sparkle and shine.

There’ll be a lot less of the overzealous enthusiasm.

But there will be a lot more realism.

We’ll talk facts, requirements, challenges – and the reliable workarounds you’ll need to make each bit of software work for your business.

We’ll tell you what other businesses like yours have said and done, and we’ll guide you and support you through the decision-making process.

2.     We give you proof, not just promises

We’ve worked with countless businesses who are making the move over to cloud-based inventory and accounting software.

So when we recommend a piece of software or a particular path, you could just take our word for it.

But we can do better than that:

We can prove it.

The first paid project we do with our clients is a pre-implementation consultancy.

That means we take your actual data and real orders, and test them for you in whichever system we recommend.

We can then come back to you with concrete proof that the recommended system can do everything we said it would during the sales process.

3.     We don’t get all of our fees until after you’re using the system

A sales-based software vendor might rush you through the sales process.

And once you’ve committed to and bought their product, their job is done.

But our job isn’t finished until you’re fully up and running with your new system – which means you won’t be left to fend for yourself until you’re already where you need to be.

And what happens when you choose to go ahead?

We’ve already covered what happens in the sales process.

But there’s one other huge difference between going with a software vendor and choosing a partner like us:

And that’s the implementation.

Here’s how we’re different:

1.     We won’t rush you through the onboarding process

Most vendor services are designed to get you sold on the system and using it as quickly as possible.

And at first, that sounds great.

But ‘using it’ and ‘using it well’ aren’t the same thing.

With a software vendor’s services, there’s rarely any consultancy to confirm how your business would actually use your new system.

And there’s rarely any mention of the specific workarounds you’ll need to use to get a fixed system working properly with your actual data.

But by the time we start to implement your system, we’re already entrenched in how your business works. We know which systems you’re moving from, we know what level of proficiency you have – and we’ve already tested your data in the new system before we begin.

2.     Our teams give you face-to-face support

Most of the businesses we work with are based in the UK.

But most of the best software systems are developed outside the UK.

That means that even the very best support you might get from a software vendor is going to be remote and 100% online.

(And in most cases, you’re looking at a 72-hour response time when you have an issue.)

But because we’re based in the UK – and because our business model is built around training and support – we’re able to give you in-person, hands-on guidance as we take your business through its change together.

That’s the kind of thing that these software vendors simply can’t (and probably never will) provide.

And it’s exactly the sort of thing that our clients want and expect from us.

3.     We’ll be with you through every step

Most vendors will say they offer an implementation service.

But in reality, what they’re really offering is a guided implementation.

That means they’ll give you a general overview – teaching you the broad best practices you’ll need when YOU work through your own manual implementation by yourself.

And if you’re confident that you won’t run into any problems, that might be a tempting offer.

But from the clients and enquiries we’ve had, that’s rarely the case.

When you work with us, we’ll take your current system and manage the migration of the data into your new one.

We’ll give you and your team the best practices to use, too. But they won’t be broad and generalised – they’ll be the best practices for businesses just like yours, based on other businesses with similar setups in similar situations.

And when we come to train you, we’ll already have been working with your business for a few months. We’ll know exactly how your business works and what it needs, and we’ll train each individual on their specific role in the particular systems they’ll be using.

But what about the cost?

This is where things get tricky.

The scaled-down services offered by a software vendor do come at a reduced cost.

In some cases, their fees might be just half of what we charge here at BlueHub.

And that can be tempting for any business that’s worried about their budget.

But here’s the truth:

When you go with one of these scaled-down implementation services, the level of effort required from your side will be far more than double the effort needed when you choose a dedicated implementation partner.

With these vendors, the real learning happens on the first day you start using the software.

They’ll give you some training – but it’ll only cover how to use the system in the most general sense.

There’s no pre-implementation, no consultancy, and no personal ongoing training tailored to your business.

Adapting to your new system becomes an iterative process: you’ll enter some data, discover mistakes and find out how to fix them. And then you’ll try again, entering more data to discover new mistakes.

This level of trial and error leads to a hugely wasteful learning process – in terms of both time and money.

But when you choose a partner like BlueHub, you’re paying for our years of experience guiding businesses just like yours to success.

We don’t just give you a broad overview and send you on your way. We’ve already done the groundwork with your business that lets us take shortcuts together towards the fastest, easiest, and most rewarding route to seeing results.

And that level of ongoing support and in-depth, tailored training pays for itself – by guaranteeing the continued success of your new system long after our job is finished.

Are you ready for real success?

We can’t tell you whether going with a software vendor’s implementation service is the best choice for your business.

But we can tell you that they’re entirely different experiences.

When you choose an implementation partner like BlueHub for your new system, you’ll be getting:

  • A team that’s focused on your business and your success – rather than on hitting sales targets for a single software package
  • A partner that’s willing to be realistic about the systems and your needs – not just a sales rep who loves to say ‘Yes’
  • And a company that’s ready to deliver face-to-face, individualised, ongoing training – not just a general overview of best practices for you to follow.

So if you’re looking around at a few different options, you owe it to yourself to give us a free call.

There’s no obligation, no pressure, and absolutely no sales fluff.

Just drop us a message or book a free consultation – we’ll be more than happy to chat about everything your business needs to start seeing real success.

 

 

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