Your Inside Track to Modern Software Assessment | Podcast | Episode 004
Updated: Oct 20, 2022
In this episode, we chat with Tom Costa, who is the partner enablement manager for Sage Intacct, and is an expert in ERP systems of all shapes and sizes.
Having started his career with Sage, Tom went on to work with a number of other big name software vendors, including Microsoft, Infor, SAP and Acumatica. Before returning to Sage.
Tom now focuses on helping the Sage partner base deliver maximum value during their customer interactions, advocating a customer-first approach to software demonstrations that focuses on enabling results as opposed to merely ticking requirements boxes.
Audio Podcast Links
Please find the show notes below.
Originally started with a company called state-of-the-art software,
Took the only programming class that the high school offered at the time, It was the software side that interested me, which led me to gravitate towards a career in the software industry, as opposed to just hardware sales or things like that.
Used to deliver 2 - 3 demos a week
Now taking 30-40 years of experience and using it to train others
Major shifts in cloud Software
The shift to more of a remote work environment from where we were all in the office together.
Don't think we're ever going to go back to pre 2019 levels of we're all going to go into the office Monday through Friday, there's going to be some hybrid variant of all that, but all of it includes working from home.
Is AI essential or a nice to have?
It's more than a nice to have now that I've actually seen practical use cases for it
It was always huge organizations, huge enterprises. They had the budget to incorporate this type of technology, but now we're finding that it's gone down to the small to medium-sized level.
AI in Sage Intacct uses GL outlier detection to spot inaccurate transactions
Approvals can be chained on to this so that you're not having to approve anything that falls within past trends
Avoids 'Garbage in - Garbage Out'
More trust in data
Less routing around to find 'needles in haystacks'
Mention of Microsoft HoloLens
The hidden advantage of automation
Now, there's a level of automation that people don't have to do as much manual tedious time consuming operations, because the automation does that.
The users find that work more interesting
With this there is less likehood that they'll move jobs
Instead of starting working thinking I've got all of this boring stuff to do, it's a shift to being motivated to use the tools we have to improve
Software and blockchain
Blockchain is being used to make data more accurate and secure
Reference to web 3.0
It's still a way off being adopted within accounting software
Managing crypto currencies is closer
Tom lead a session on how to manage crypto in Sage Intacct. Use the contact me on my home page to request a link.
Sage as finance software or ERP software?
Some companies write-off Sage as accounting only
This is just an education thing
Many companies are using other Sage applications to manage all of their operations from construction companies, to distribution companies, to professional service companies
Demystifying the Sage suite of applications
Sage 50 is your entry-level solution that many accountants have trained on
You then have Sage200 which is an end-to-end ERP in the UK (Sage 300 in the US)
Sage Intacct is the cloud solution built for finance teams, but is now expanding into manufacturing
Sage X3 is geared towards billion dollar organsations with a lot of complexity
Tom's recommendations for approaching software assessment
Do you research online to narrow down a long list to a shorter list
Then find an organisation with experience in your industry
Try to stay away from platting requirements and assessing based on requirements
Go to market with a business objective, and have a partner challenge on what you're not doing at the moment that you could be doing
You don't know what you don't know, and often you only understand your business from an internal perspective
Having someone give an outside perspective and share insights is beneficial
Use G2.com as a repository for information on software systems.
G2 also have an assessment tool that allows you to compare software solutions, you just need to create an account and login
Be wary of hyper-growth SaaS organisations. They often have aggressive sales teams that are just trying to funnel ou through their process, as opposed to looking out for what you really need
Selection of a partner needs to be based on a relationship that could last 10, 20+ years
Configure or Customise?
Sometimes it's pointless customising a solution, as you customise to the way you're working now as opposed to the way that you might be working in the future
Sometimes it's better to take a phased approach, where you get the fundamentals in, live with it, build expertise, then work with your partner to evolve the solution as you become more aware of the available capability
There's nothing wrong with a 'big bang' approach, but it might not scale if your processes change
There are now also several marketplace suppliers for many solutions that offer 'plug-ins' that allow you to pick and choose additional capability, where it be for something like Expenses, HR etc.
How to tell a good demonstration from a bad one
It's all about the person delivering the demo
Are they confident, do they have experience?
Are they able to tell stories about similar customers and how they're using the solution?
Watch out for 'yes people' that will immediately say yes to all questions
Pay more attention to those that are honest and might say 'I don't know the answer to that, I'll have to get back to you'.
Most systems are going to be better than the solution you're coming from, especially if you're working on a legacy application
Pay more attention to what this could mean for the future
Tips for implementations
Be aware that no business change comes easily
It will be tough, and there needs to be serious buy in from all levels of the business
Also note that not just implementation, but the selection process can take a long time
If someone senior to you says 'Investige Software' it might be worth pushing back initially, stressing the amount of work it's likely to mean for the business
You don't want to be spending 3 months assessing systems for seniors to come back saying we don't have the time or the resource to proceed with that
There are cases where the same system has been implemented poorly in some companies, but perfectly in other similar companies
This is where it's important to stress that selection of the right implementation partner is crucial
Emphasise that there's not point in implementing a new system to do things in the same way. You could have a bad process that you're able to do faster
Implementations should change process to take you to a better place than you first started
What software could Tom not live without?
If it's in his inbox it's getting done
If it's not taken from his inbox and put into it's calendar, it's not getting done
Tom keeps a lean inbox, stressing that you should only have items in your inbox that require attention, everything else should be filed away
Get in Touch
Wanting some one-to-one guidance on how to leverage technology to support your ambitions, or just want help demystifying the complex world of software and systems?
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Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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