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Greetings to my friends, family, former students and coworkers, and my many new connections.
A great many of you are new connections for me here on LinkedIn, and I wanted to reach out and tell you about myself and what I’m working on, while updating those who've known me for a while. I’m hoping to share a business experience that can guide anyone in making decisions about their business software and web development.
Two years ago, after a ten year career as a college and high school instructor, I decided it was time to return to professional life and accepted a position as the creative director for a startup in Los Angeles.
Like many startups, we were working on a shoestring budget, and most of us had to wear multiple hats to get the business off the ground. Because of my background as a web developer, and experience with networking, web servers and e-commerce solutions, the ‘IT manager’ hat was placed firmly on my head. Between managing package designs, corporate identities, client website designs, and IT, I was wishing I had antlers. No time to take one off and replace it with another.
In my first week, I was given the task of researching and selecting an ERP solution, with a long and complex list of requirements. I had produced e-commerce sites before, and linked them to various online services, but I’d never delved into the world of Oracle, SAP and Sage. Most of my clients in the past were small to medium sized businesses selling a product or service online, not multinational corporations with massive budgets. This was all new territory for me.
This is the list of requirements I had to meet with my selection:
The solution must be open source.
The solution must be able to manage multiple companies and locations.
The solution must accommodate multiple e-commerce websites running on a single database.
The solution must be responsive and mobile ready.
The solution must be able to integrate with a VoIP call center solution.
The solution must have a robust API for integration with CRM and other web services.
The solution must provide as many of the following business functions as possible:
Manufacturing and Product Lifecycle Management
Many of these requirements on their own would be relatively easy to meet. However, it was my experience that most e-commerce platforms are designed for one company, one e-commerce website, one database. Finding a solution that could manage multiple websites for multiple companies, all from the same database was not going to be easy, and I was right.
I decided that the best place to begin was by looking at what the big kids at Oracle, SAP and Sage had going on. Obviously, these platforms were all quite capable, but this is what we were trying to replace with an open source solution.
My first phone call was to Oracle, and quite revealing. The salesman I spoke with asked me a series of questions about the business, business model, etc. Finally, he asked me how much we were making annually in sales. I reminded him that we were a startup, at which point he laughed, and said, “Call me back when your company is doing 10 mil plus in sales. Have a great day.”
What I took from that is, these platforms are not solutions for SMEs. These platforms are for large corporations with deep pockets. Okay, that’s what I was there to verify. Check.
Open Source ERPs
When you search for ‘open source erp’ you will get in return hundreds of open source ERPs and an equal number of pages created by these ERP companies, and are designed to appear as though they are legit outside reviews, but really intended to point you in one direction or another. One thing you will notice as you look through these pages, is that there are a few ERPs that show up in all of the comparisons. This will help you narrow down your research to the ERPs that everyone wants to compare themselves to. A good place to start.
In my case, I was looking for something very specific and uncommon. An ERP with the ability to run multiple companies and their associated e-commerce websites from a single database, and the ability to generate reports by company, or fas a whole.
I started going through the websites for each of the ERPs on my list to see if any of these were capable of what I was looking for. I was disappointed to find that none of these ERP systems could do what I needed. I was resigned to telling my employer that what they wanted didn’t exist within their budget. However, I did find one ERP which met all of the other requirements, and added some other features that would save us a lot of money. I decided to call them and schedule a demonstration so that I could see it in action before making an recommendation.
Odoo’s main office the USA is in San Francisco, so I called and spoke with an Account Manager there, Rodrigo. When I told Rodrigo about our business and what I had been searching for, he said, “We can do that. I have a developer in London who is doing multi websites with Odoo.”
Rodrigo referred me to his developer in London, and after a conversation about our requirements, I was ready to go to my employer with THE solution. Not only did I find something which met every single requirement presented, it eliminated the need for SalesForce, MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc., because the functions of these services were already built into Odoo. These expenses, and the expense of hiring a developer to code connectors for these services, were instantly eliminated!
Later that day, I made my recommendation, and the decision was made to go with Odoo.
For the following year, I worked with our developer in London and his team daily to implement Odoo for our business. They were amazing. They helped us to take a better look at our business processes and make them more efficient.
Over that time Del Attah and I developed a mutual respect, and friendship. I was so impressed by the capabilities of this ERP system, and those of the London team, that I decided to take that on as my next challenge. This October, Del Attah and I became partners to create Bizanova Limited, worldwide IT service with offices in London and Los Angeles.
My search for ERPs taught me this. Unless you are an IT professional or are familiar with corporate software, like i was, chances are you don’t know what an ERP is. It’s not exactly a household word. The websites for these ERPs are mostly created by IT people, and most do a terrible job of selling their product. I feel for them. It's a difficult task to explain to a layman all of the ways in which an ERP could really help their enterprise and save them money, and even more difficult to explain the differences. The result is a lot of small and medium sized business get left out because they think the only thing they can afford is a WordPress website, with a Magento e-commerce store and a SalesForce connection. And this particular setup doesn't even cover things like HR, inventory, project management, etc., nor are they integrated. What a mess.
Well I’m here to tell you it’s not all you can afford. I can save you money while helping you generate more money, more sales, more clients, more efficiently.
If you are in business, thinking about starting a business, have a friend in business, or just curious about ERPs, please take a look at our new website. We have created six industry specific ERP packages, designed to get you up and running quickly. If you have an existing system or services, we can help you with the migration.
Please call us at (800) 868-8207
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