Sunday, 23 November 2008

My Software is Better Than Yours

The software business is full of people trumpeting their software as being the best. At a conference I attended last week, someone waxed poetic about how much better Navision (Microsoft Dynamics NAV) is than Great Plains (Microsoft Dynamics GP). This happens to be a topic that I am qualified to weigh in on, being certified in both.

But I didn't. The only time I compare two software packages is when determining which is the better fit for a company.

When someone starts telling you how amazing the system they are selling is, my advice is to tune them out. I even tune out those charts that purport to compare software packages feature by feature. Why? Because you can't capture the differences in approach between two packages in a word or short sentence.

Take foreign currency exchange for example. Most major packages offer this feature, but when you get to know the individual packages you find out that there are significant differences in the way they actually handle foreign currency transactions. How does it treat foreign currency fluctuations in a standard costing environment? How does it do General Ledger revaluations? How does it reverse errors? Does it make adjustments only at the General Ledger level or does it affect the subledgers? How well do third part add-ons integrate with it? Will it allow the consolidation of subsidiary companies denominated in a foreign currency? These questions may be relevant to your company, in which case they are worth asking. If they are not, then why bother even making the comparison?

Before we even begin to implement software, I can guarantee you there will be significant areas where the software will not work the way you expect it to. We will have to look at the logic behind both the software and your business processes, as well as how expensive each is to alter. Then we will have to decide which way is best for your business. I would argue that how well a software package is implemented is as important to customer satisfaction as the underlying software. In other words, a great package poorly implemented will often be perceived as poor software. That is another reason I take personal opinions about software packages with a grain of salt.

At the end of the day, the question of which is best for your business is the only question worth asking. It will take a lot of research on your part to arrive at an objective answer, but the results are well worth the work.


Unknown said...

I couldn't agree more and I'm usually the guy arguing that Dynamics GP is better. In the end, if the client doesn't get a system that works for them, nothing else matters.

I also find that all products have strong areas and weak areas and often the hard part is figuring out where you must have strength and where you can compromise. For example, if a publicly traded company, you MUST have strong financials. But a company that only does a couple of project a year may be able to use a less robust project accounting package.

Smart companies know how to do the ROI on these pieces to make intelligent choices.


Unknown said...

Well said, Mark! Thanks for dropping by. I've added to my blogroll.

Unknown said...

Hi Bill,

Firstly, this blog is full of precious information, thanks for that.

I have seen people comparing ERPs just to propagate their expertise towards one particular system, be it GP, AX, NAV, etc. While most of the times they win the argument as well as an Implementation contract, later they realize that they have advocated a less relevant or irrelevant product for a business.

Comparisons should be made only with respect to the Business requirements. And your article says exactly that.

I definitely recommend this article to all Consultants.


Unknown said...

Vaidy, thank you for the visit (all the way from India!) and your kind comments.

Jamie said...

The photo is hilarious! Seriously, I'm really impressed with my cousin who owns a catering business. She's getting a lot of orders lately. Her newly-hired employees are increasing by the day. Managing a lot of business-related things is getting difficult to do. Thankfully, my cousin decided to use quality and dependable Sage AccPac ERP software. Using the said accounting tool helped her grow the business. Why? It's because it's easy for her to save overhead expenses. Thanks for the informative post!