Up until today, this was my approach towards Acumatica:
Last week was the 1.5 year anniversary for this blog and my personal Acumatica learning journey (click here). That milestone, coupled with a rejuvenating two week vacation, caused me to consider where I would like to go next.
Up until now I have considered Acumatica to be a hobby. But, while on vacation, I decided to take this thing to the next level: from “Acumatica Hobby” to “Acumatica Business”…
Acumatica Reporting Business
Starting today, I begin work on building an Acumatica reporting business. This changes my approach towards Acumatica:
Why have I decided to focus on reporting?
- I like reporting! Since 2005, when I first started working in ERP, I have become familiar with the various niches within ERP: product selection, application configuration, customization spec writing, customization development, integrations and data import, project management, data warehousing, report development, user training, etc. After trying out all the different areas, I realized that I enjoy reporting the most. And it’s always best to do what you enjoy most!
- Companies have an insatiable appetite for reporting. Reporting is constantly evolving, long after the ERP implementation has been completed. There is always work to be done. First there is the need to customize your printed documents such as invoices and purchases orders. Next there is a need to build reports to help mid-level managers manage their departments. There are reports that help eliminate much of the manual work done by “Excel jockeys” and free them up to analyze the data instead of spending all their time compiling the data. There are dashboard reports that help present summarized information to upper management. Then there are financial reports used by the accountants and auditors. There are auto-emailed audit reports that proactively look for bad data and send it to someone’s inbox as soon as it occurs, instead of waiting for them to catch it at the end of the month. The list goes on and on and it’s probably worthy of a separate post.
So there you have it. I enjoy ERP reporting and companies have an insatiable appetite for reporting.
There are currently some problems in the world of ERP reporting that I hope to address:
- Traditional Business Intelligence consultants are very expensive and engaging them tends to be a high risk / high reward kind of endeavor. It can be difficult to justify spending tens of thousands of dollars for consultants to learn your business and produce reports that quickly become stale due to the constantly evolving nature of analytical reporting.
- Mid-market ERP consultants often have too much on their plates and they are spread too thin during an implementation. They are juggling business process re-engineering, project management, software configuration, data imports, software customization development, and end-user training. Reporting tends to fall into “phase 2” and many times everyone is too exhausted from the implementation to even consider phase 2 until well after go live. By then, there is already an established network of manual “black market” Excel reports that have been created out of necessity and it can be a monumental effort to replace them.
- Reports tend to be a constant exercise in reinventing the wheel. For example, why does every company need to create their sales analysis report from scratch? Wouldn’t it make more sense if there was a central repository of report templates that you could browse for ideas? Then, if you like one of the templates, you could purchase it as a starting point and have it customized to fit your specific needs. This would save you both time and money.
- Many times a company fails to utilize even a fraction of the reporting power that is already available to them. 3rd party reporting tools can provide a company with very powerful reporting capabilities. However, Acumatica has great reporting functionality out-of-the-box and it continues to improve. There is definitely a place for 3rd party reporting tools, but oftentimes the out-of-the-box tools can do a lot more than you realize.
- Typically ERP reporting consultants bill by the hour. Although they may give an estimate up-front, many times the actual cost far exceeds the original estimate. In addition, billing by the hour for a report can lead to the cost of the report not justifying the value delivered by the report.
I plan to address these problems by:
- Providing Acumatica Reporting consulting at a reasonable price. I can do this because I am content to earn a modest living and building a business based on a blog/website requires very little overhead expense.
- Focusing exclusively on ERP reporting in Acumatica. This will allow me to hone my skills in a very specific area.
- Building a website that acts as a repository for Acumatica report templates. I am currently collaborating with The Report Store for Sage 500 ERP reports. So far I have created an Excel report that is selling on the site. I plan to invest more time in this endeavor and incorporate my lessons learned into a store that is built specifically for Acumatica. A picture is worth a thousand words and it has been my experience that people often don’t know what they want until they see it. Having a repository of Acumatica report templates would give them a starting point.
- Diving into the detailed capabilities of the Acumatica out-of-the-box reporting capabilities. 3rd party reporting tools like BI360 are awesome (click here), but I would like to put myself in a position to help companies understand all the capabilities currently available to them as an Acumatica customer before they move on to purchase 3rd party reporting software.
- Sticking to a fixed-price agreement. I will spend the time up-front to identify the requirements for a report. Once the requirements have been determined, I will provide a price for the report. The price will be fixed, regardless of how much time it actually takes me to perform the work. Then the customer can decide whether or not they want to pay for the report. This will motivate me to deliver an awesome report instead of incentivizing me to drag my feet so I can charge more time. This will also motivate my customers to really consider if the value delivered by the report justifies the cost of the report before proceeding.
These are exciting times for everyone involved with Acumatica. As I begin to build my business, I am doing so with an eye towards the next 10 to 20 years, during which time I expect Acumatica to become a dominant force in the world of mid-market ERP.
As I continue on my Acumatica learning journey and narrow my focus to the area of reporting, I remain dedicated to being APAL and I vow to continue to fight against becoming ANEXPERT. Every consultant is essentially a professional learner and they are hired as much for their ability to pick up new things as for what they already know. I will continue to apply this philosophy in my new Acumatica Reporting business endeavor.
If I have the privilege of working with your company at some point in the area of Acumatica Reporting, I pledge to you that I will approach each of your reports with an open mind and I will carefully listen to your needs before making any suggestions. Why? Because that’s what a Perpetual Acumatica Learner does!
As far as company name, a new website, and other details go, I have a lot of thinking to do. Stay tuned…