Don't Play God!

Avoid the mistakes of Dr Frankenstein

By Andy Scott • Managing Director

Following on from the first blog announcing Calibrate as the only Scottish Odoo Partner and waxing lyrical on likening the choosing of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system with selecting a life partner!..... Here is part 2, aided by Mary Shelley’s epic Frankenstein.

My fictional company is Monster Limited, a maker of children’s toy monsters, and limited by its previous investment in computer software.

Monster was doing well.  From the idea of a young male entrepreneur, it grew into a very successful online business with several niche market sites; its own offices for admin, management, accounting and marketing; several retail outlets and concessions; a warehouse, and even a small workshop for kitting with accessories to make unique products from an ensemble of overseas manufacturers’ products.  8 years of profitable growth and nearly 50 management and staff later…..the cracks started to appear.  With no time for an internal review, they decide to hire an external business process analyst.

Some ‘quick fixes’ were applied, but the core findings would take longer to sort out:

  • Multiple entries into different systems

  • Lots of errors and inconsistencies in stock levels 

  • Too many names for the same things on different systems

  • Reconciliation of data was very time-consuming

  • Online customer complaints were rising

  • Returns were rising

  • Gift cards were incompatible between different systems, causing challenges between online and shop

  • Kitting and packaging were difficult to cost because timesheets v’s finished goods were too varied

On top of this, Doctor Spreadsheet was overused by too many people for too many problems and was having a version control breakdown.

Now the founder and CEO of Monster had always made sure to get the best advice on software.  The business was primarily online and technology helped him avoid employing too many ‘not-productive Overheads’ – as he called them!

He had Xero for finance; HubSpot for marketing; Salesforce for Customer Relationship Management; Shopify for e-commerce; Magento for the websites and used spreadsheets for manufacturing and stock management.  Ok, the spreadsheets weren’t perfect, but the rest was good and not too expensive.  With new users and the connectors between some of the systems, the price had started to go up, but there was no need for an IT department – all the infrastructure and support were outsourced, and all the Cloud-based solutions looked after themselves.

The advice from a trusted systems advisor was to implement ERP over time and start with Manufacturing and Stock.  Odoo looked like a good and very cost-effective solution – so off he went to, and bought the modules he needed and the Service Pack for implementation.

The workshop was up and running in a flash.  Inventory took a bit longer because of the import from other systems and a 2-month delay for ‘data rationalisation'.  Despite the fact that all Odoo modules are available to all users, at £17.40 per user per month, he elected to use a collection of Odoo connectors to integrate his solutions landscape.

Like Frankenstein’s monster, it sort of looked like the Full Monty but some of the behaviours were strange and difficult to correct.

It is like picking your ideal life partner from the best bits of all the people you’ve fancied!  Her front, her back, Jane Austin’s creative talents, Dawn French’s sense of humour, Catherine Jenkins singing voice (and maybe some extras); Ginger Rodgers Legs; and Liz Truss’s capacity to give in so quickly and easily.

You can only have one heart, one brain, and one personality in business - 
unless you are     
(but as the name suggests – things will fundamentally have to change for continuity of business lineage!).

It might not last forever, but approach your ERP relationship as if it will.   It needs to be right for you, and it needs to be the complete package.  Ok, you will be forgiven the odd flirtation with a spreadsheet and a reasonable cooling-off period for other relationships will be granted.

Calibrate is a certified Odoo Enterprise Partner and it is our job to guide you through the Odoo implementation journey step by step.  We provide ongoing support to all of our clients.

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