INTERNET APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT
MID MARKET ERP DEVELOPMENT
by Brian Terrell
Recently, I spoke with a leading Intacct business partner about the opportunities and challenges of tailoring Intacct to the exact needs of the customer. The world loves to call this customization, but I have never liked that word. I feel it implies that the product misses a feature or is otherwise incomplete. I prefer to call these types of development efforts “automations,” because that word always creates a positive response in me and those with whom I speak. What’s not to love about automation?
And, what’s not to love about Intacct and automation? Intacct Platform Services provide skilled developers with the tools they need to help our business partners’ clients do more work with less effort. We can create custom objects, forms, and business logic. Platform Services provides the mechanisms to help connect line of business or horizontal applications directly to Intacct’s core modules, which explains why over 50% of Intacct transaction postings today originate outside of the core system. In other words, a human being does not directly enter more than half of all entries posted to Intacct today. He or she may enter those in a proprietary order management system, Nexonia Expense Reporting Software, AmeriFlex Workforce (a cloud based HRMS soon to be fully integrated with Intacct), or some other best-in-class application, but Intacct Platform Services does the heavy lifting of posting the resulting transactions to Intacct. This frees everyone up to win and serve more customers instead of re-entering transactions that have already been digitized.
Does automation always make sense? No, some automations do not make sense. In a conversation with another Intacct Business Partner and his client this week, I asked the client what it would mean to his company if we automated the transfer of additional information from Intacct to their cloud based CRM system. It turns out that when the client thought about it, he works only an hour a month in the manual transfer of this information, and an hour a month values the automation at $600 per year or less, in most cases. Some might judge that a satisfactory value proposition for a simple automation, but it’s pretty skinny. And let’s not think that value must always be denominated in dollars. In this case, I hope I can work with the business partner and client to analyze further this opportunity in search of additional value, such as improving data accuracy, accelerating and increasing marketing touches, or freeing up someone’s time for more valuable prospecting or delivery efforts. The point remains that value, of which the client is always the final arbiter, must justify automation or automation makes no sense.
The takeaway in these two discussions emphasizes the importance of including value questions in the initial discovery process. Ask the question up front: “What will it mean to your company to solve this problem?” There must be an answer because our prospects and clients have lengthy to-do lists competing for the time they invest in conversations with us, and the potential for value surely exists or they’d be busy crossing off some other task on that list. As consultants, we have to be the ones to remember to ask questions that help our customers identify, measure, and articulate the potential value associated with an automation. Because I love participating in these discussions with business partners and their clients, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss Intacct automation opportunities.