Do You Need a New Accounting/ERP System or Just a New Business Process?

Can we talk? I’ve heard a fair amount of chatter among imaging channel resellers about limitations within their current accounting/ERP system and their remote monitoring systems (RMS). Here’s a question to contemplate: is the issue the vendor, or is the issue your business process that needs re-engineering?

The largest software provider in the imaging channel today is ECi. They develop and manage the main ERP system (e-automate) as well as legacy systems like Lacrosse and variations of OMD, and the three major RMS systems, PrintFleet, FMAudit, and Print Audit. There are other options in the market, and of course, as a business owner, you should review alternatives from time to time. The question for most business owners to answer is this:maybe your business should simplify before you look for a new system that can manage your brand of complication?

Businessman purchasing online - ecommerce

If everyone reading this article went on to Amazon right now and searched for a product, the price and availability would be EXACTLY the same. Exactly. Amazon has $300 billion in annual sales and 95 million customers. Now, consider your business. Suppose a customer needed a printer. Even if you narrowed it down to one model the variables would be endless:

  • Configure finishers and other options
  • Buy vs. finance
  • FMV lease, rental or $ buyout?
  • Length of the finance term? 3, 4 or 5 years?
  • Color and mono pages separate or combined? Accent color pages?
  • Number of pages included and cost? Overage rates? Escalators?
  • Commission on hardware? Commission on service and supplies?
  • Service level (next business day, four-hour response)?

That’s only a small sample of the variables you manage. It's not uncommon for a customer to have multiple contracts, with different prices, and different terms for the same product! 

Changing your ERP will not change the reality that most dealerships are simply too difficult to do business with. If Amazon can offer 95 million people the same price for a product and be successful, why do you need so much flexibility?

Your business process also affects your RMS deployment.

Another software issue dealers often mismanage is the RMS. Resellers complain that they pay too much money to see information on devices they do not manage. The fact that the devices are unmanaged is not the fault of the software, which does the same work, regardless of who monetizes (supplies, services, replaces) the printer.

This has led many dealers to simply “hide” the asset so they don’t have to pay the $3-5 annually to monitor it. In other words, if there are 20 printers on a customer network, you view that as a $100 annual expense. 

Isn’t the better question to ask, why has my high priced sales team been unable to win the business?

Instead of that tough question, the blame goes to the software company for charging too much? $100 is not even close to expensive for a year of data about competitive printers—especially when it can be turned into your revenue. Each printer needs supplies. Assume mono devices need one supply every 4 months, color printers need almost one per month. They also need parts, periodic maintenance and eventually, replacement.That’s gotta be worth $100!

What’s the message here? Simplify your business. Complicating your product offering is not caused by your ERP or RMS. Sell supplies. Sell printers. Rent printers. Allow customers to buy them online. 

A poor carpenter blames his tools.