Having spent 25 years building accounting software, and with a combined 100 years of IT industry experience on our board, we’ve heard plenty of software procurement horror stories from the businesses we speak to.
For years, when it came to the procurement of any of your business systems and software, you were largely at the mercy of the suppliers. You’re wowed with whizzy demos and big promises, claiming to revolutionise your finance department with innovative new tech at a fraction of the price you previously paid.
But the IT industry is notorious for hidden costs, confusing jargon and lack of transparency, and chances are once you sign on the dotted line, the finance system you get never quite lives up to those expectations you were sold.
The below 3 stories are just a few of the scenarios we’ve witnessed time and time again from many suppliers and their resellers. Take these as a cautionary tale to not fall victim to the same cloak and dagger routines next time your system is under review.
The time had come for Organisation X to review their accounting software. They looked to a pre-set procurement framework to lighten the load on their internal teams. Rather than scope out all of their requirements and prepare questions to ask suppliers, they chose to rely on questions and a scoring system already set by ‘the experts.’ After all, the framework had already been created and used before by plenty of other organisations, so why bother starting from scratch - makes total sense right?
You’d be forgiven for thinking so. In reality, they found that responses were all coming back the same, with little room to separate suppliers. Functionality heavy requirements made sense years ago, but in today’s mature market, all accounting software does what it needs to. Almost all suppliers could just tick ‘YES’ to the entire set of questions. The framework offered no room to dig any deeper. Focussing entirely on granular functionality of the software itself, but failing to ask questions that would uncover what each supplier might actually be like to work with on a daily basis.
What’s more, the endless lists of functionality heavy questions took so long to complete, that suppliers were inflating their prices in a bid to recoup the time they spent answering them. While many other suppliers simply didn’t bid at all, well aware there would be no opportunity to highlight their differentiators so why waste the time. This left Organisation X to choose from just a fraction of possible accounting systems.
This is why you won’t find bluQube on any procurement frameworks. Instead, we choose to work with businesses directly to understand their requirements, while also giving them a taste of what it’s like to work with us.
Looking to overhaul several business systems at once, Organisation Y looked to tackle them all in one go with an ERP suite. 1 group of business systems, for every department, from a single supplier. They get to implement them all in one go, with just one contract to manage, and being all from the same supplier, sharing data between departments will surely be a doddle.
But after an implementation that was dragging on a year and counting, it became clear that it wasn’t as simple as they had been lead to believe. In fact, the supplier was still building what had been sold to them!
Instead, Organisation Y were forced to abandon the project, this time opting for a series of best-of-breed systems, working with different suppliers to meet the needs of each department. What they found completely contradicted what they’d been led to believe by the ERP supplier; just because they were working with multiple systems, there wouldn’t be any problems with data integration. The modern systems they chose were built upon true interoperability and web-service data sharing, ensuring reports and dashboards within the finance system could access information from around the business in real-time.
However, it was clear that their complex business structure, with multiple sets of accounts, was too much for many out-of-the-box accounting systems to handle. What they needed was a supplier that was willing to work with them to build their requirements into the product. In a way that continued to be supported, rather than simply deliver a one-time bespoke piece of work. If that wasn’t enough, thanks to the knock-on of the failed ERP implementation, they needed the new system up and running ahead of year-end - just 8 weeks away!
Thankfully, they chose bluQube. And we delivered a finance system that was integrated around the business, for 8 sets of companies, all ahead of time in just 4 weeks.
When Organisation Z began the implementation of their new HR software, working with a local reseller, they were filled with optimism about how much it would transform their business. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the bubble to burst.
The implementation simply dragged on and on, dealing with a supplier that time and time again failed to deliver what they were promising. Their new supplier often arrived unprepared to meetings, constantly passing them off to different people and offering no single point of contact for escalating their problems. It soon became apparent, that by working with a reseller, they were never able to speak to the people actually building and hosting their new system.
Implementation plans continued to change last minute, all the while the bill grew and grew. With nothing fixed, Organisation Z could do little but keep paying and cross their fingers it would all be over soon.
Although wary of these bad experiences, a year on Organisation Z also opted to implement bluQube into the finance department. In contrast, we offered them a fixed-cost implementation with transparent, pre-agreed project plans that they were able to hold us to. By working directly with a supplier building and managing their own software, Organisation Z could feedback on how the implementation was going and see changes implemented right away.
This all resulted in bluQube being implemented ahead of the HR system and within budget. In the unlikely event unforeseen issues had cropped up, we would have been the ones to foot the bill.
In today’s mature market for accounting software, it’s not enough to focus your procurement on functionality and price. All the systems largely do the same thing, and the cost is far too often manipulated to appear low, only to ramp up once it’s too late.
Of course price and functionality remain important factors, but you want to make sure you’re also probing a little deeper into the supplier themselves:
Having witnessed these common horror stories and many more like them, we decided to do things differently. Never using resellers, offering fixed cost and fixed timescale implementations, and above all, being transparent with our customers. If you’d like to find out more about working with us, get in touch.
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