Superyacht Group, a London-based print and digital media company, needed to get itself organized.
Information on billing, sales and finance were stored on Excel spreadsheets, documents were in duplicate or triplicate spread across departments and there was no way to ensure accuracy, much less create efficiency. The company was the exact type of enterprise that Software as a Service (SaaS) ERP vendors salivate over.
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“You’ve got everything on your computer in spreadsheets. As soon as you leave your desk your information is out of date, and it’s just on a piece of paper; it’s not live,” said Pedro Müller, strategy director for the company. “We needed to have a system where everything is in one place, it’s centralized and it’s live. We needed something that’s not based in a server in the office.”
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of vendors that offer some type of product that solves the problems Superyacht had, but that number dwindles when Müller added his group’s other considerations.
“Our IT department, if you can call it that, is one guy that helps us build all the websites and looks after our phone lines, things like that,” he said. Superyacht's workforce is equal parts editorial staff, sales team and event coordinators, without a systems or database administrator in sight, Müller said.
He wanted something that could be implemented fairly easily, would require little training and could run as close to the vanilla version as possible.
“We were lucky enough to have some friends in the industry who have worked with this kind of a thing before,” he said. “They looked at how we were running our business and made a few recommendations of a few systems.”
Choosing NetSuite SaaS ERP
Among the recommendations were products from Microsoft, Salesforce.com and NetSuite. Müller said that the first two were thrown out from the start because they were too complicated, leaving NetSuite, which ultimately won out.
“It was pretty much the first choice,” Müller said. “The other [vendors], we never even got to the stage where we asked them to bid or make a proposal. Sometimes the more the choice, the more you start complicating things.”
With the decision made, implementation began, taking about six months of migrating data and testing. Müller and company worked with consultants to map out the business and apply scripting to NetSuite’s SaaS product. The test for Superyacht was its employees.
“I think the biggest challenge is always people,” Müller said. “When you do things like that, to get people to adapt to change, the human factor is always more challenging than the technology. Technology is either right or wrong.”
The success of the system was dependent on two things -- management buying in and a snowball effect from the sales team. Both ended up happening, according to Müller, who noted that growth came once sales realized NetSuite SaaS ERP gave the company a competitive edge.
“The system started speaking for itself,” he said. “When a salesperson starts getting 80% more sales than he used to, their colleagues say ‘OK, there’s something here he’s doing right.’ ”
Not only did salespeople take advantage of a more organized system for qualifying leads, they also were able to handle more sales volume and eliminate debt backlog by automating invoicing, ending the need to mail out forms and wait for checks to roll in.
“At the moment, it covers all areas of the business, and that was something that was really important for us,” Müller said, adding that all key company information is now held in the system. He also talked up NetSuite’s flexibility, saying that “we can bend it so it works the way we want it to, not the other way around.”
The end result of the implementation was 20% growth over the past three years, increased sales volume and a reduction in time spent on administrative tasks.
Müller recommends that executives in a similar situation to Superyacht’s be prudent not only in analyzing the various SaaS ERP vendors, but also their own company’s processes to make sure that the problems that need solving aren’t just technological.
“One of the things we actually found when we [mapped our system] were there were actually holes in the process,” Müller said. “No matter how good the system is, we were setting it up for failure.”