Choosing a new rental or ERP system is not for the faint of heart. Generally, if you buy a new piece of equipment and it isn’t profitable, you sell it and move on without any major disruption to your business. A misguided choice for a new business system has the potential to create major disruption for both you and your customers. Pick the wrong system and, in a few years, you may find yourself with an archaic system as your competitors pass you by. Many rental companies find themselves in a predicament when trying to figure out where to go in a time of technology transition in business systems as software moves from in-house servers to online systems, also known as “Software as a Service” (SaaS).
1. Technology is changing and you need to pick the right software vendor
Many of the rental systems available today are based on proprietary systems developed 20 years ago or even more. The organizations selling these systems find themselves in the unenviable position of having to use ongoing software maintenance revenue just to keep the systems running and adding a few peripheral changes. They don’t have the funding or breadth of product or experience to keep up with the technology changes that are happening.
As an example of what Microsoft can offer, signing up for an online Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central accounting/ERP system means you never have to buy a server again. You will automatically receive free or near-free upgrades twice a year, 99.9% uptime, and outstanding system security with four live copies of your database running in two geo-redundant data centers and rollback to anytime in the last twenty-one days. Microsoft continues to expand the horizon of what was previously known as Dynamics NAV and has added integrated tools such as Power BI (Business Intelligence), Power Apps (non-developer mobilization), and Flow (non-developer workflow automation and integration across diverse systems). No other vendors own the technology environment, the industry-standard tools, and the final business application.
What is going to happen to these relatively small software vendors where client lists rarely exceed one thousand in number? Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central now has about 300,000 customers driving improvements, most of whom pay annual or monthly software enhancements. Microsoft spends more in research and development each year than most rental software companies have in gross revenue.
2. Who is providing your implementation and technical support?
The software vendor is not always the same organization who will be implementing your system and providing ongoing technical support. You need to check the bona fides of the company you will be dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Your partner had better understand the rental business.
3. Are you in the information technology business?
At a recent conference for Business Central, Microsoft mentioned that 75% of new prospects are looking for online systems only. These organizations have realized they are not in the technology business. Online systems offer the promise of high uptime, no need for senior IT staff, much better system security, database redundancy with real-time fail-over if something goes wrong, and no daily backups. Think about that for a minute. No. More. Taking. Backup. Tapes. Home. With four live copies of your database with twenty-one day rollback, why would you need backups? If you do, simply schedule them and have them stored in the Microsoft Azure cloud.
4. Does the system offer free or near-free upgrades with the ability to have complete customizability?
The newest business systems, such as Business Central, offer implementation options for both in-house and online configurations. You want or need the database in-house – no problem. You want to run it in the cloud – again, no problem. You want to move from one to the other – you can do it!
With an online Business Central system (SaaS) you would receive twice yearly updates of your integrated finance and rental system, normally at zero cost. Microsoft automatically updates your base system, updates your rental app, and re-applies your customizations, all in just a few minutes.
For in-house options, you could schedule the updates at your convenience. You may pay a bit for your partner to assist you with the process, but there is no more upgrading the data through an expensive and painful upgrade process.
5. The practical or financial cost to integrate multiple systems is simply too high
For smaller companies you cannot afford the time or cost to run multiple systems that don’t share a database. What is the cost of not having up-to-date financial information because you are waiting for information to be transferred over? To create automatic integrations can be quite costly. Watch out for diverse systems that claim to be integrated. What you are looking for is “embedded” systems where an app, such as the ODT rental app, is embedded directly into the Business Central database. All information is shared and in real-time. The end user doesn’t know the difference. No more manual data transfer or imports.
6. Can the system be customized to meet your unique requirements and not cost you more on upgrades?
There may be something absolutely unique about your business model you would like to have in your system. How do you get this capability into the software without incurring major ongoing costs and affecting your upgrades? Business Central offers the capability. Industry apps or customer customizations are kept separate from the base source code, allowing upgrades to be easily processed while permitting customers to add virtually any conceivable customization.
Lots of things to think about. If you want to discuss the state of the accounting or ERP business, or find out more about Business Central and the ODT rental app, please contact us. We’re not a hard sell.