Have you recently purchase Sage MAS 90 or MAS 200 accounting software? Are you in the process of selecting software? Then read on because I have 10 specific tips for you to keep in mind as you lumber through the exciting process of interviewing potential consultants and talking to salespeople.
Although I’ve labeled these topics as “lies”, they’re more like “sales puffing”. During the sales cycle you’ll often deal with many of these 10 issues and I’ve tried to explain briefly how to work your way around the traps.
The biggest key to avoiding an issue? Get references. And check them.
Someone claiming that they’ve worked in your industry or have done work exactly like what you’re asking about should have no hesitation to provide you with a list of references (I consider 5 references to be a minimum – especially with niche software).
Top Ten Lies Resellers Tell (and how to avoid them)
#1 – We’ll do that in phase 2 (or later)
Here’s the biggest warning that whatever is being proposed is going to be tougher and more expensive than you are initially led to believe. If it were an easy feature or procedure to implement – then it would be done before phase 2.
Consultants leave stuff for phase two when they really don’t know how to make it work.
By the time they reach phase two they hope you’ll either forget about the feature or they’ll have stumbled upon a method to produce the functionality they’ve promised.
# 2 – Sure we can integrate to your [pick a custom program your company uses]
Integrate is the most mis-understood word in the software world.
To the person selling the program that they promise “will integrate” — the word means that they support exporting to Excel or CSV and then having you do a ton of data manipulation and pulling the data into your software.
To the company making a software purchase the word integrate means “one button seamless” pulling in of detailed data from an external program.
Unfortunately the reality is almost always closer to the first option and you’ll be performing time consuming tasks to massage your data and get it ready for a manual import. To get around falling into this trap – insist on a paid walk through of the way the import would work (yes, I said paid. Not many consultants will dedicate hours to a custom import with no guarantee that you’ll want to purchase).
# 3 – We’ll make a special custom Crystal Report
If the consultant promises a custom report – be sure it is going to be no charge – or have them design and show you the report prior to buying the software.
I’ve seen situations where custom reports run 20 to 40 hours to design. In real dollars that can be an extra $5,000 or more depending upon how complex that report is.
# 4 – Here’s what our training will cost
Wake up call.
Whatever the consultant quotes – when they reach their time budget – they’ll either (a) ask for more or (b) leave.
Moral of the story? Get a realistic quote and if it’s not fixed – expect to pay hourly. To alleviate cost overruns dedicate internal staff to assisting with as much implementation as possible.
# 5 – You won’t need much training
Sometimes this statement may be true. For very experienced companies there might not be much training.
For the remaining companies count on 10 to 12 hours of training per module.
A consulting firm promising less than this is planning to cut corners somewhere. Good luck.
# 6 – Once you buy the software we’ll design a procedure to accommodate [insert non-standard workflow]
Tip: Here’s problem #1 in disguise. Have them design it (for a fee) before you buy. The only time you should make an exception to this is if the functionality is not that important to you.
# 7 – If you have over 5 users you must use MAS 200
We hear this fib all the time. It’s mostly told by resellers who want to increase their sales volume with Sage Software.
In nearly every instance MAS 90 over Citrix or Terminal Server will work just as well.
# 8 – We have a client in [pick the industry that your company is in]
Talk to the reference. When you talk to the reference, make sure that they’re using the exact same modules and procedures that you are considering. It will be surprising how many companies in your industry aren’t using Sage MAS 90 or 200 to its fullest capacity.
# 9 – We can import all of your detailed history during our conversion
During data import you should bring in master file information and detailed (invoice level) totals for AP and AR.
If you try to import detail (down to invoice line items or general ledger transaction lines) you’re only asking for a lot of trouble (and expense).
During the conversion process you will be working under such a tight deadline that nobody will be able to stop and tie out the detail. The end result will likely be a huge data conversion bill for data that someone discovers (months after the conversion) doesn’t reconcile.
#10 – We can sell you the [pick niche software add-on] and you’ll be trained by the company that makes the niche software
We see companies all the time who have bought software add-ons for their MAS 90 or 200 that the consultant didn’t know how to install. So the company is left searching for another consultant who knows the software package that they’re struggling to implement.
Either find a consultant who has more than 5 references on the add-on or contract with the add-on supplier to manage all your installation and training from the start.
Tip: Get references for both circumstances. Be sure those references are using the exact setup (modules) that you are contemplating.
Use some extra due dilligence when you are interviewing consultants. My recommendation to everyone is to obtain and check references. Do not be afraid to pay for a test implementation of the solution you are considering. If you can pay $5,000 and discover that a proposed solution doesn’t work – then you’ve probably saved $100,000 (and years of internal labor) by rejecting that solution.
Most good consultants will openly discuss the pros and cons of solutions that they are offering. We strive to position the solution with as many minusses as plusses. This allows prospective users to make better informed decisions.