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Enterprise Resource Planning with Paul Sweeney


Jake Van Buschbach 0:00
Hello everybody, my name is Jake from umbrella IT services and today we're gonna be speaking with Paul Sweeney about enterprise resource planning software. So Paul helps businesses identify problems, inefficiencies, different mundane tasks that can be automated, and a ton of other stuff using e RP software. Paul broke down what he RP software is, what your business can get out of it when your business should be looking into it and a ton of other information for us during today's interview. So I hope you find it valuable. Without any further ado, let's jump into it.

I'd like to give Paul Sweeney A big thank you for coming on today and talking with us about e RP software and how it can help small medium businesses remove friction preventing growth and a number of other topics. Paul, thank you very much for coming on today. Can you tell us a little bit a little bit about yourself and how you got into enterprise resource planning software? Sure. Thanks, Jake. So I've spent the last 20 years helping small and medium sized

Paul Sweeney 1:00
As implement enterprise resource planning, or MRP software,

but I got into the business after a previous company I was with bought some software could better manage inventory. During the process of implementing that software, I ended up teaching the consultant things. So once that project was done, the consultant said, Oh, hey, do you want to come work with us? So I looked at it and that opportunity look better. So I took the offer, and I've been working in the space ever since.

So my focus is, you know, once we get the system implemented, I turned my attention to helping customers get the most value from the software. That's why I call myself an AARP Sherpa. You can do it yourself. But because I've been there before, I can help you get the results you want with less work and quicker. That makes sense. And when people are calling you in to do the enterprise resource planning software, what are some of the main reasons why a company would need something like that?

So some of the things that

they are buying are flexibility, standardization,

access to information,

a single point of entry because what I find is smaller companies though they you know, you and you start up, you don't necessarily have a lot of money, you don't have a lot of means. You just need to get it done. And so you bring it you start with, say, a QuickBooks and you know, that does, you know, you get your bills out to your customers, you get their checks in you pay your bills, it all works, right. Then maybe add inventory, and then maybe you start doing projects and payroll, and you've got all these disparate pieces out there. But they're not really connected together. And so like, for example, in a project focused business, you can't pull all that data together easily. To say, am I making money on this project? Where did it go sideways? Right? And then so even then even though with whatever they have right now, they might be able to pull those report. But it's slow and cumbersome thing to get access to that data. Right? Because these these systems are not designed around multi users. We can give project managers that data. So when you pull in an AARP, it's designed around multiple people access to some people have access to some things, other people have access to different things, but not everybody's everything. Right. So that means I can give us a project manager access to their projects. So they know currently, where their budget to actual is my project going sideways, do I even need to look at something

that's the type of value that

Jake Van Buschbach 3:56
he brings to the table. That makes a lot of sense. I know that a lot. have our larger clients, once they start to hit the 50, user Mark man, maybe about 50 employees, they start to notice that things are starting to kind of get a little spread out. And that communication within the business does start to break down. And I was actually just reading this morning, just doing a little bit of prep work before this, that about 60%, on average of an employee's time now, prior to COVID, could be wasted per year, I think it was the average office worker 60% of their time, is not used efficiently. So it's very important, I think, for people to understand that when they do start to feel this dis association of the different departments of their business, it's really important to make sure that they're leveraging technology to be able to solve that problem for them. What's an example of a client that you worked with, where it kind of went from night today, just with the difference in terms of productivity or internal communications? What's one of your favorite experiences?

Paul Sweeney 4:58
Well, I can give you a couple of examples. So speaking to your 60% piece, I had one customer that Tom, their accounts payable person was spending three to four days every month doing data entry. Right. And I just happened to be in the office and she mentioned that this this task, she was doing this. So I looked at now what? Why are you doing that? Yeah. So what I did was, I think I think we spent charging 1500 dollars. And I turn that four day job into a five minute job.

Jake Van Buschbach 5:39
That's awesome.

Paul Sweeney 5:41
Right? You know, like, what's the benefit to the business? The job so it gets done. But if you if you think about it from the employees perspective, how much more fun is their job now? And what more what things that are far more valuable, can they now use those three or four days for

Jake Van Buschbach 6:00
Hundred percent. So what does that look like when you when you sit down with her and she explains to you I'm doing data entry? What kind of data entry was she doing? And then how were you able to turn that into an automated process?

Paul Sweeney 6:12
Well, in this particular case, it was it's really really odd thing because

the vendor that they work with

provides them a list of the invoices that they need to pay on a portal, shall we say? And it's so she manually scrapes those off that portal matches them up with their own purchase orders. It's all done in Excel. And then out of that Excel sheet, she loads them into their accounts payable. Right and all I really did was take that Excel sheet and use a macro to auto right into the MRP brilliant is real simple, right? Yeah, just pick you know, I see a problem. I can See how to leverage the existing tools

to make life easier.

Jake Van Buschbach 7:05
That's, that's awesome. And I know that when you're doing that across an entire organization, I've done similar things using G Suite and office 365, where when people get on boarded, they get added to a group. And then that group automatically inherits all of the permissions and resources and workflows that person needs to take care of. So instead of spending four and a half hours onboarding, the staff member and going do they have this calendar? Do they have this file? Do they have access to this contact directory? Do they know what email they have? Do they know what responsibilities they have? They just get an email that directs them to a site that explains to them Hey, you got these resources, you got these workflows, you have these processes, and you're responsible for these tasks. And then they have somebody shadow them for the first week, and then they're good. It just simplifies things so much. It removes the the chance for human error. And like you said, it just makes things more fun for people because they're able to do higher level jobs instead of just sitting there copy paste. sting for four days out of the month, which is just crazy. So very, very good to know.

Paul Sweeney 8:06
And I know she likes it because every time something goes wrong with it my phone rings.

Jake Van Buschbach 8:13
That's great. So what what kind of strategies and guidelines Do you usually implement alongside an AARP software? So like for myself, I always like to break down workflows and procedures and responsibilities alongside the automations. What kind of stuff do you bring in when you're when you're setting this stuff up for folks?

Paul Sweeney 8:32
Well, so one of the the most important things that I like to focus on is standardization. Right? So when you first start your business, you'll agree to anything the customer wants, because you want the business Yeah. However, once once your business has grown and the transaction volume has grown, you discover that this approach can create massive friction. So one of the first things I try to teach is the understanding of the repercussions to the business. shooting from the hip like that. Right. So if you have a standard for how prod products are sold, projects or services are built, and the process becomes quick and easy, and you can train new staff on how to do it, right, but if each customer is billed in different ways with different rules, then your back office becomes very manual. Suppose your billing has that has an impact on cash flow, and suddenly your monthly billing takes three weeks instead of two days. Right. So when we standardize how your business has done, your business you will find your business can grow more quickly, you will have fewer issues to resolve and it's easy to train people how to do their job and Chris fewer errors. Alright, so that's one of the things I like to focus on. Hmm.

Jake Van Buschbach 9:50
That makes a lot of sense because when I when I was starting off, people are always kind of confused because the number one thing that I've always hated. Everybody knows this about me. I hate accounting. I always tell my accountant, I don't understand, I don't know what any of that says, I just want you to keep me out of coming out of a cage. Like I just don't want to go to prison for tax fraud. I just don't understand anything else. So I love the financial side, I love economics. I just hate the the bean counting and don't have this receipt and don't have that and blah, blah. So right from the very getgo, I made sure that I was automating everything to do with my finances. So if I made a purchase, it got populated into a spreadsheet, and then that spreadsheet got put into an app. And I'd be able to look at everything and then I implemented QuickBooks later on and it's always been so simple for me because everything is automated in that regards the business and now I'm starting to understand, okay, not only do I have this accounting stuff that needs to get done, now I have an operational back end now I have an HR back end. Now I have a system systems and support back end. And trying to standardize these things is something that I'm trying to get done over the span of a year and it's it's just about there. Have you know noticed that with your clients, it takes about the same amount of time takes a year to get everything standardized or do you are able to get that done in a quicker way? Well,

Paul Sweeney 11:11
what I find is that the process of getting them up and running and comfortable Thanks, buddy here. Right and part of it is the the changeover right. It takes time to change. Yeah. But part of it is is getting them to change their processes. Part of it is getting them to embrace the change. And then the other part of it, which I think is far more important, is getting them to wrap their head around what this thing actually does. Right and then after that year, they tend to go Oh, I get it. Yeah. Wow.

Jake Van Buschbach 11:59
That makes a lot

Paul Sweeney 12:01
And then we can start doing some really good things. Yeah. Right. Because all up to this time really what I've done is I've taken what you have, and I've kind of morphed it over into a new system. I haven't found that it's a successful strategy to do more than that in the in the initial call round. Because what happens is you get way too much pushback, because people really don't have their head wrapped around what this thing does. Right? So if I just get them up and running and just, you know, address the upfront pain points that we've identified, is the low hanging fruit. Then they get their head wrapped around it. And then now we can start to say, Okay, well, now that you've got this going, you've got those benefits that we talked about. How are we going to leverage it and get even more benefits out of it? Right. So one of the Things I like to look at is like, is let's let's partner grant, I'm not a vendor, I'm part of your team. Yeah. Which, which means that for you, in your best interest, it's best if we stay engaged, I get regular visibility into what you're doing, what you're trying to do, how your business is running. Because so for example, I'm walking around your office and I see somebody banging away at something and I won't stop. We don't need to do it this way. Yeah, I can your productivity. But I can only do that if I'm engaged. Right or are in another case I've had where a customer was spending a whole day preparing a monthly report. And the only reason I heard about this is because he wanted to add a piece of data to the report that wasn't in the source data he was using. So when he showed me what he was doing was trying to do as a wall Let's not keep going this way. Yeah, I read, did his report. So now he gets the same results by right click in Excel and refresh.

Jake Van Buschbach 14:13
Yeah. Yeah. And that's the way it should be to be honest with you there's so I see so much waste going on. And so many poorly implemented technical strategies nowadays it is it is quite frustrating to see a lot of these vendors kind of do this to themselves as well. When people are finally free of these, these shackles of doing these menial labor tasks, what do you usually recommend they start doing instead? Is it analysis? Is it strategizing? Is it a completely new role within the business? What's your experience there?

Paul Sweeney 14:47
Well, so that's a real challenging one because that delves into multiple questions. And one analogy I like is from the book called control commerial operating system? I don't know if you've read that one, I have not. But it talks about seats on the bus. Right? So within any given business, there's a number of different seats that that need to be filled for the business to run. And when you first start out, but there's one set of seats, but then you've grown to another point where the the seats might change, or maybe the people in the seats need to change. Right. So sometimes we get into a point where the business has grown to a point where the existing people that were comfortable doing those those day to day tasks are not necessarily the best choice to migrate to the next level with the distance. Hmm. And a lot of small businesses have trouble with that transition, because they're saying, Well, you know, this way I like this person and you know, they've helped me and you know, Want to be loyal? Yeah. Right. So that's a that's a challenge. And you know, I respect the loyalty in there. And you know, it's it's a great thing. But it can be hard for them to understand that. It's just like a favorite play team sports. And you know, somebody just sucks, right? And you're just trying to work around them. How does the team feel about having this person on the team? Yeah, right. Then you say, Okay, well like this, this individual is a great person. But the role in the team is affecting the entire team. So maybe we need to separate and bring somebody else in, and that that has a huge impact on the team.

Right, so sometimes we can

refocus somebody tasks on something else. A lot of times, we can take a whole bunch of different types of tasks and consolidate them in this one person. So everybody else can go do the stuff that they're more interested in. You know, you know, like, like, when we look at inventory, somebody has been doing spending a lot of time doing menial tasks to keep track of their inventory. Well, they can we can consolidate those tasks and several others into this one person. So the inventory person can then go focus on making sure they have the right stuff in inventory. Right. So that's the kind of things I'm thinking that we're businesses can consolidate some tasks into one person, and then let others do the stuff that they really want to do, which is higher value things.

Jake Van Buschbach 17:43
Yeah. Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. I have a lot of folks. Like my personal approach with the loyalty thing you mentioned is trying to train staff as much as possible if we want to make sure they have all the resources that they need and go to improve and stuff like that. But then some folks they just They're just not interested in improving, you know, they're happy where they're at. And it makes a lot of sense for a lot of folks. And in my experience, it is fairly amicable when that happens. And the business does expand beyond that. But what I always think about whenever I do have to make a tough decision like that is, am I gonna go to the rest of the team and say, I know you got to feed the family. I know, you got to pay your bills, but I don't want to make Stephen upset. So we got to keep him on, you know, we're gonna we're gonna keep the anchor on the ship. Because I don't want to make Stephen upset. Like, that's not a way to run your business. You know what I mean? There's definitely a way to honorably and to respectfully run your business, but to understand that someone is not the ideal fit for your business, and then to keep them in a role is, in my opinion, abusive to both parties. Because that person is going to know what's going on. They're going to understand that there's some sort of odd friction in the air, and then they're not going to understand why. So it's very important, I think, to make sure you have that amicable discussion. But mostly my experience and I'm gonna learn from you in a second here. Whenever I do end up automating things, not to your extent, but when I end up automating and improving the business, most people don't get replaced. It's they're freed up, like in my experience, they end up doing analytics, and then they end up being more of a leader in the business. Is that your experience? The majority of the time?

Paul Sweeney 19:22
Oh, yes.

There's a lot of people that Oh, yes. I don't have to do that anymore. Exactly.

Jake Van Buschbach 19:31
Right. Yeah, you saved me my Friday afternoons, I'm not doing data entry anymore. That's usually the response I get is, Oh, now I have an extra four hours every Friday because I'm not having to do this task or I'm not having to do that task. So now I've got an extra 16 hours a month that I can do whatever I want with and then we're able to use those more those other technologies and kind of give them those tools. They go whoa, this is included and I can do this now and holy and then all of a sudden you get to touch base six months later. And it's it's an entirely new position and this person is just flourishing.

Paul Sweeney 20:04
That's right. And they they like it better. Yeah. Right, because they've just gone to this killing. Right. But I would say that the the one trait that I see very commonly, and it's many, many different levels is just a lack of curiosity. Right that that. Nobody says, Wait, there's got to be another way to do this. Mm hmm. Right. And even if the answer's no, but at least he asked the question, yeah. Right. And this is comes back to my point earlier of earlier, where if I'm a partner in your business, when something like that comes up, we can talk and say, Hey, is there a different way we can do this? And we can look at it and say, yes or no, if it's Yes, you know, do we does our existing tool Do it and now I just need to some training, or do we need to as the Excel macro? Do we need to build something that will help it? And then we, of course, always look at, if we have to build something as a return on this investment, does it make it work? Because it makes sense. Right? Cuz, you know, spending $1,000 to fix $100 problem doesn't make a lot of sense. No. Right? But say the spending $100. So the thousand dollar problem makes a huge amount of sense. Right? So that's how I look at it. And that's why I like to partner with people. So we can have those conversations we can connect with with the roles people are doing and get an understanding of what they're doing, how they're doing. And they can ask questions, or I can ask questions, why are you doing that? And that way, then we overtime we leverage what this tool can do.

Jake Van Buschbach 21:59
Yeah. And what would be some of those features? Like what are the staples of good DRP software?

Paul Sweeney 22:07
So some some of those features are

the primary one is a single point of entry for everything.

Right? So if you're a project focused business and you're building, you know, stake engineer, an engineering firm, you know, you've got a whole bunch of people using the time against the project. Well, they've got a ton. Usually they have a timesheet, well, that timesheet drives, what the customer gets billed, but also drives payroll. Right, so one point of entry driven to different transactions. Right, and so with our integrated system, when that employee adds an entry to their timesheet, it's saved. Now, that project manager can see all my my my budget actuals change, so they can monitor in real time. What what people are doing Whether projects are at, you know, as did we miss estimate our budget? And do I need to go get a change? Right? So you then allows you to be proactive, rather than reactive. When that bill comes, comes out for approval every month and you look at whole world, your budget, the customers are gonna pay this bill. And now you know, you're playing whack a mole. Right? Whereas with an AARP, that's a single source of entry. It's live data, you have live access to these things, and you can proactively manage instead of reactively manage,

Jake Van Buschbach 23:38
yeah, and what other kind of data does it present

Paul Sweeney 23:42
on almost anything, right? I mean, some of the other things that we can do is you know, like, if one customer and I really don't like to do this, but he can is a customer wants a specific invoice format, we can do that and just We just build it into the system and the outcomes, right? Um, we have different payment terms for our customers. Right? And the other one I see is deposits or pre payments on orders or projects and how people process those make it very difficult to track you know, who's paid what, and how much of the projects and pay whereas a RP system is designed around to be able to do that. So, for example, like in your business, you sell a $5,000 printer anyone 50% paid up front and 50% when what after the products been delivered? Well, you create the order and you take a payment against the order for that 50% and then when that's fully processing becomes an invoice the invoice is for the total amount. It shows the amount that was Paid already. And then the net to write and it all follows in in under the customer record. So I can now at any time I go into the customer records, okay, well, they gave me a payment of 20 $500. Oh, it was for this order that's still outstanding. We haven't delivered the product. From one point I can flow through and look at all of the different pieces of that transaction and that customer record. Right, I don't need to go searching and paper I don't need to ask questions anybody. I have immediate access to it.

Jake Van Buschbach 25:34
What other information would be included on the customer page?

Paul Sweeney 25:38
A pretty well, anything you want in terms of like you there's the standard tombstone data, their their name, their address, contacts, telephone numbers. You can look at all their past orders, past payments, or outstanding balance. That's just a quick summary. And then if you want to collect additional information, we start getting into that that zone between really that the the financial aspect of the customer and then the CRM part of the customer. Hmm. Right, that that's a let's call it like, what's the best term for but there's a spectrum from one to the other and depends on the nature of your business. Do you need to get more involved in the CRM? Or does just the the financial side of that customer needs to be considered?

Jake Van Buschbach 26:41
Yep. And are you able to track things inside of the ER p like, I spent 12 hours on this customer this week. Here's the breakdown of what those 12 hours look like. These are the things I did for that customer. And then I'm able to analyze all of those on a macro level and see what can be automated.

Paul Sweeney 26:58
Absolutely. Right. So you can, you know, in your business we can integrate your your ticketing system into the the invoicing. Right? So all the ticket details show up on the invoice. And then you can see then you can link the two. Right, you can see, you know, what tickets have been invoiced? What haven't been invoiced, and you start to have some some visibility into what you're charging the customer versus the cost of servicing the customer. Alright, so, yeah, so we can bring these things together. And that's really where the power of these things comes into play. Right? Because, you know, if you don't need to know, the cost versus what you're building, then then there's no value to these systems, but I generally find that that's a competitive world. So the more you know about Your revenue versus your costs, the better you are able to put together a competitive value proposition for the customer 100%

Jake Van Buschbach 28:08
I think that any business that doesn't understand its true labor cost and the cost of the services that they're providing is doomed. Like the way that I've managed to go from a bedroom closet fixing phone screens to having a team of people in an office downtown and dozens and dozens of full time clients and 1000 residential clients, etc. is through cost. Like I just understand, what am I doing right now and I did have to sacrifice a lot of my time when I was starting off because it was just me and you know, I'm charging 20 bucks an hour instead of what we charge now. And, you know, things were very, very different. But I still understood a tank of gas is this much money, my time is this much money. It cost me this much to buy this tool set to buy this thing to rent this space to have these people on you know, and if you don't understand those things, I think that your businesses in a lot of trouble and you need to understand these things. Not only to grow, but to stay alive. Yeah, I think that's fundamental. So that's one of the reasons why I was so interested to speak with you today is because this tool, a lot of these different tools that are out there is such a concise way to create different metrics for your business, which allows you to create different goals for your business, which allows you to have your business succeed, because as I've heard before, an idiot with a plan will beat a genius without one. And I think it's so so important for every business owner to understand what it is that they're doing, why they're doing it, then how it's getting done, like you said, so their staff can be happier, they can achieve higher levels of success. They can be more competitive, they can expand their impact and their communities. There's so many different reasons to be looking at software like this. And yeah, I wish that it was more well known to a lot of folks What what software platform specifically? Do you usually recommend to people when they're starting to look at GRP software?

Paul Sweeney 30:10
Well, I'm a little biased on that. Because I, there's tons of them out there, right?

There's. So

the way I like to describe it is buying your piece offers kind of like buying a vehicle, human down the auto mall, and you can drive yourself crazy looking at options. Right, because there's so many of them out there. Right. So part of it is is the approach that I prefer to take rather than talk about a particular vendor or product is let's let's look at what problems we're trying to solve. Right? Let's understand really what problems we're trying to solve. What is your ideal scenario look like one year from now and five years from now? And then that will help us look at what our options are. Mm hmm. Right. And then then there's the the general tool versus an industry industry specific. There's tons of industry specific software out there. And what I found is when I looked at what they do that for most businesses, a general PRP software can give you the same results. But then you also have a larger pool of people to pull from might even know what you your software is. Whereas if you have an industry specific one, now you have to train everybody that comes in the door. How do you use?

Jake Van Buschbach 31:47
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense as well. We started implementing different sales software, and different CRMs in this kind of stuff. I've been experimenting and surprisingly, the most general one seems To be the best fit for us, there's so many people like I'm sure you know, in the IoT space where it's, oh, you're gonna buy this, this is the one to buy, though it's integrated, it's designed specifically for your industry. And they're just missing so many features and looking at the different forums and the support and all the features that people are adding in and all this kind of stuff. We're just gonna go with this incredibly General, basic CRM. And we actually had a guest on talking about this earlier this week, and I'm excited to publish our interview with him. And he was saying, like, keep it simple. You know, it's better to go with a general tool. You know, there's millions of people using this. People are people, they're going to figure out stuff inside of the system that the developers didn't even know that they had available. So it's interesting to hear you say that, what are some of the general resources and platforms that you would recommend to people is flexus able to kind of help people develop their own unique software with their own sort of branding on top of one of these general tools or do you recommend specific platforms?

Paul Sweeney 33:04
Well, actually, before we go into that, I wanted to come back to the previous topic to raise one one item of industry specific versus general. Let's say you go down the road, he buys an industry specific piece of software. And two years from now, three years from now, maybe you acquire a different business or you see an opportunity in a slightly different field. Well, now, your industry specific software may or may not be able to support you.

Unknown Speaker 33:37

Paul Sweeney 33:38
yeah, the general tool will support you no matter how you pivot your business.

Jake Van Buschbach 33:43
That's very true.

Paul Sweeney 33:46
So that's the piece that I wanted to raise.

Jake Van Buschbach 33:48
Yeah. Yeah. The tool that I've been using, actually is one where when my staff for see it, they kind of laugh, because it's just so simple. Like it's it's, it's fun. Computer Repair and for iPhone repair, like it's not a management system for an enterprise. But the reason I went with it is because it's so flexible, like everyone's been like, what is this? It does nice is cute is hilarious when you get big boy software, I'm like, go go spend half an hour in there go spend half an hour in the code and go spend half an hour messing around with these different functions, this kind of stuff in there. Like I created the perfect solution for something that I did it in half an hour. What is this? Like? It's so amazing having something that's just simple and flexible. Like I was looking at another vendor. I won't name names, but they were like, yeah, it takes about 12 hours of training to be able to use the ticketing system. Excuse me, like, yeah, like eight to 12 hours. It's fine. We'll onboard you. You gotta do all these courses. We have a whole college set up. And I'm like, I have five employees. I don't have the time to dedicate 12 hours to doing this. That's absurd. And then I was like, I'm just gonna stick What I have and then I looked at their feature set. And again, like 60% of it was bloat. I didn't need it. There's one or two things where I was like, Okay, this is kind of interesting. And okay, maybe we should have a customer thermometer kind of situation going on where we can get reviews about the service. And we should change the title here and whatever. And I just implemented those systems into our general software. And I was like, this is done easy. And now my staff can go, Okay, so the plus button means make a new ticket. And the thing that says notes is where I leave my notes, and all this information here is for this and all the information there is for that. And it's just so easy to use it. And again, like this industry is industry specific software, like I plan on expanding much further from the from just doing managed services. And the software I have now I'm assuming will grow with me because I've done a little bit of testing with it. But there's other software from this other vendor. There's a lot of walled gardens and there's a lot of speed bumps in my way if I wanted to expand into doing something else, so I'm glad you brought that up, Paul.

Paul Sweeney 36:01
Yeah. Right. So, in terms of platforms, and and, you know, like you talked about branding and as your own. Um, I guess my first thought is, can try to understand why you want to do that. Right, because the way I look at these things, is there a tool? Very similar to a truck? Yeah. Right. You get in you drive it. Do you care what the name on the back of it is? Most time? No. Does it doesn't do the job I needed to do. Right. And then what's the total cost?

Jake Van Buschbach 36:43
Yeah, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. The main reason I would ask is just people, some people you know, they like to have when they log into their portal, it says their company name, you know, and they want to say, okay, we're gonna go to this tool, but can we see the company name is the logo in the bottom right corner. That's it. bar. Is it the company branding? Or is it the other tool?

Unknown Speaker 37:04
Okay, I got

Jake Van Buschbach 37:05
Yeah, yeah. Yeah,

Paul Sweeney 37:06
yeah. Um, and and so

when I first got into this space I was working with, excuse me, say 300, which is the old qpac product. And it's a very powerful tool very good at what it does. And we can add your logo onto reports. But in terms of the user interface, we have very limited ability to make it your own. Yeah. More recently, I've gotten involved with another product called called acumatica. That one is a more modern architecture and we have much more power around it. So we can make the color scheme match your company's colors. Your logo is on the login page. Right. And of course, it's always on the invoices and documents you send out to customers. But the user interface is much more adaptable to make it look like yours. Right? So it depends on which we're we're talking about we can we can definitely personalize it and make it look like yours.

Jake Van Buschbach 38:22
That's good to know. And can startups benefit from this kind of stuff? Like what what tipping point do you think people usually have like for my business, for example, usually when you hit about 10 staff, then you need our services. And when you hit five staff, it becomes convenient to have our services but it is more of a luxury like it's something where you would call us in part time. Is it similar for yourself or is it 25 staff or is it 50 staff? Or how do you recommend people kind of start thinking about DRP software? Is it size or is it revenue?

Paul Sweeney 38:54
A little bit of both

because you can you can have a A

lower revenue business, the top cut has high margins, they can afford the product sooner than a low margin business. Right. But having said that, the way I prefer to look at it is

the cost of the tool versus the benefits you're going to get.

Right? And and there needs to be a certain size before the the benefits outweigh the costs. Right. So now if you're in a startup and you know you're going to grow fast, then maybe it's worthwhile putting it in early. Yeah, but most of the time, startups have scarce dollars. Yes. Right. So let's let's focus on using those dollars where they're going to provide the greatest benefit and the Initially, most of the time, therapy's not the place. Right? It might be building up your inventory, it might be

spending your money on sales to have more customers.

Right? And then after the fact, then you can spend, then, you know, you've built sales and you've got inventory coming and going. And now you start to see the frictional problems, because you don't have a handle on how much as an inventory or when it's arriving what my cost was. I don't know if I made any money. Right now we can come into play and bring in the RP in and then you start to identify now you manage these these things that affect profitability, Mm hmm. Whereas initially, profitability is not going to happen because you have no revenue or no products, managing the inventory. Right. So your problems are different. I think

Jake Van Buschbach 40:55
also a big benefit that I've noticed is the customers coming customer's always seem to have something to say once we're finished implementing things like they always say, seem a little less stressed out, or this just went so smoothly. And one thing that I've always to touch on your point about standardization, one thing that I've always tried to focus on, I read a book called the EMF. And that was one of the very first books I ever read about business. And it says that your customers need to have the exact same experience every time they deal with you. And that's something that I've always tried to implement, even though it's very difficult and it because you know, there's so many variables in it, but when you walk into Starbucks, it doesn't matter if you're in Starbucks in Seattle, if you're in Starbucks in New York, if you're in Starbucks in Dubai, if you're in Starbucks in Canada, when you walk in, you go to the lineup, you have a little display cable thing to display case, you have the drinks on your right hand side, you have the breeze to saying how can I help you and you got the board behind you. It's the same experience every time Home Depot, Starbucks, McDonald's, all these businesses. something that I've always tried to do is make sure that it's a very similar experience when dealing with us, you click the button, you file the ticket, someone reaches out saying something similar, we help you out, we send in a little survey, and then you're on your way. Or we don't even send out a survey depending on the severity of the issue. But I noticed that the ER p stuff kind of does that everywhere. And once it's completed, again, you kind of have an entirely new business, and that can be pretty alarming for a lot of business owners. What are some of the types of pushback or concerns that you might experience when you're trying to implement such a comprehensive solution for them because I know for myself when I started looking at this, the biggest challenge for me was actually allowing myself to step back and go, I there's a lot of areas I can improve and when you realize 75 80% of what you built is needs to be replaced. It's dead wood. You know? Do you get pushback like that from folks? Are they mostly excited about it? Or do you ever get that little bit of a fear response from people?

Paul Sweeney 43:10
I've got the fear all the time. Mm hmm.

And the, one of the most challenging parts of this whole space is that there's all sorts of different fears. There's, I'm afraid for my job. Or, you know, the one that never gets actually expressed is I'm afraid they're gonna find me out. Yeah, they have no idea what I'm doing. Yeah. Right. And so those ones tend to be the ones that are hardest to overcome. Right, because they're so fearful of being caught out for not knowing anything.

Right, that that I mean, I've had a case where

the person ended up being let go because they're pushing back so hard that they were just, they were the problem. And they had to be like, Oh, yeah. Right. But having said that, after they were let go, the whole business you could feel it like nothing ever. Right? It just became so much better. Yeah. Right. Well, it's unfortunate, but that can happen. All right. The other one is the fear of the unknown. Or I don't know if this is going to work. And then of course, you're asking people to change. Nobody likes to change. Yeah. Right. I mean, I remember, in my university days, I'd come into a classroom and people like to sit in the same chair.

So once in a while, I just go sit in a chair. Yeah.

You watch them walk through the door, and they're just like, Ah, yeah, I don't know what to do. Yeah. That's hilarious. So there's that that fear of change? Yeah. All right. So I mean, one of the pieces of advice I'd have for businesses is to teach people not to be afraid of change. To do that, you almost need to create a constant change in your business. So that people became become used to the idea that things are going to change.

Jake Van Buschbach 45:25
Yeah. And I think that's really important for startup owners to understand and people that are kind of getting ready for this kind of solution. Because I've kind of instilled all those values that you're talking about in my team, and it seems to be working quite well. How do you recommend people do that? How do people instill this kind of progression and this regular change in their business in a way where it's not just changed for the sake of change, but it's actually productive.

Paul Sweeney 45:58
I would say that one of them the most critical things is leadership needs to lead the changes and demonstrate they're using the changes. And then part of the challenge of that, of course, is that the leadership doesn't always know the changes are needed. Right? So I come back to a principle out of one of Tom Peters, his early books is talk to yourself horizon. It's called In Search of Excellence. Right? And one of the principles in there is management by wandering around. Right, which means you got to get out walk around, walk your business, yeah. Right. look worse then work with the staff and and see what they're doing. Right, because then, Hey, you know what your stuff is doing? You can see where, oh, this is a problem, or we could make this person's life so much nicer. Mm hmm. Right. And you get that visibility into your business now, now you've got many, many opportunities to implement change. Right? And the smaller the changes, the easier they are to accept. But also as part of teaching people that we are going to be changing. Yeah. Right. And then once once you've taught people that you use a leadership are open to change, and you want to change, now you can start having regular meetings with people and ask them, you know, what should we change? Right, they will give you ideas, they'll tell you what needs to be changed, but they need to know that it's safe to say, Oh, this is not working. Yeah. Right. And until they see that safety, they can be very reluctant to say something.

Jake Van Buschbach 47:48
I agree. I think that's very important. You know, people need to think that they're, it's a safe environment for them to be able to contribute. I usually end up having weekly meetings or my management team, as we meetings with with our staff to make sure that they have that input. You know, like, Hey, I wasted four hours this week doing this thing. Why is this a thing? You know, yeah, we automate this, I keep getting this issue coming up on the site. Let's automate it. And then it's, it's amazing like with certain sites Now, when we first took them over, they were having, I don't know 2030 tickets a week because they were so poorly managed before. And then now we get one ticket a month and we're running something like 8000 or 6000 automations across 100 machines. And it's fantastic being able to just go Okay, your OneDrive is not working. Let's just have a script come up every time your OneDrive crashes it'll reboot the service you don't I mean little tiny things like that. Just they was the snowflakes make that avalanche. So yeah, I think that's really important. During this whole you mentioned walking around the business. So during this whole epidemic slash zombie apocalypse slash pandemic situation. How do you recommend Do you recommend people kind of start implementing this stuff during this time and in my experience, now is the perfect time to be restructuring their businesses and to be reorganizing, because, again, people are working remotely, it is a time of change. You're starting to realize where the efficiencies and inefficiencies were. And now is the perfect time to implement stuff like this. Do you agree with that? Or what's been your experience?

Paul Sweeney 49:25
Oh, yeah. So the my experience has been, the more you can leverage you're forced to change to make a bunch of other changes at the same time, the easier it is to accept it, because you can kind of go well, we have to Yeah. Right. Right. But I've also done the other thing is, is that Tom, you know, the leadership stuff here, we're going to put in this new MRP system. And now Oh, well, that's our business processes. We need to do this and this. But now I say, well, the software doesn't do that. So we're going to change the process. I blame the software for changing a process that really should be changed anyways. Yeah.

Jake Van Buschbach 50:04

Paul Sweeney 50:07
And just just to that point, one of the most important things to me when I talk to a potential customer Bodi RP is, I want to know if there's any process that your business does that's core to your value add or what makes you unique. Because I need to protect that. Yeah. Right. Once we have the software running, it needs to be able to do that process. Otherwise, we've just killed your business. That's not something I relish Yeah, I'm here to help you grow your business make it better, not kill it. Right. So that initial discussion phase is when I'm really searching out Is there something in the in your business processes that I need to be careful about and protect? Because if there is a process and I can't do it, that I need to say I'm not the I'm not the one because I can't do this. Right? The earlier we can identify that the better everybody is because I can say, Hey, I'm not the right tool, let's say, you know, who called out there might be it might be able to do a better job. And we can turn that the the discussion that way. Right. Everything else that if it doesn't add, create value for your customer, you should be willing to change it. Right. And so that comes back to that teaching people that, you know, we are going to change how we do. Could we regularly change it?

Jake Van Buschbach 51:39
Yeah, yeah, I entirely agree with that. Do you know, are you familiar with the peredo principle? Yes. Yeah, that's, that's something I leverage quite a bit. Do you make sure your clients understand what that is and implement that when working with them.

Paul Sweeney 51:55
Um, so that starts to get more into to management, consulting.

And I haven't tended to get in that involved in my customers. My involvement is really, so far has been around. How do we leverage this tool set? Gotcha. Yeah. I mean, I'm really keen to partner with companies and do some of the management side of it as well, because it does doesn't relate to the tool set. Right? Because it's part of is how you think about it. But I haven't done that so far.

Jake Van Buschbach 52:32
Yeah, gotcha. The credo principle being 20% of your services equate to 80% of your revenue or 20. Basically, 20% of something equals 80%. Usually, so 20% of the trees in the forest, they get 80% of the sunlight. 20% of the lions in the herd get 80% of the food. 20% of your employees are doing 80% of the work. And as soon as you as a business owner start to understand that and it's I'm shocked at how constant that is. Where you're able to empower that 20% and start to take the focus away from the other 80%. You know, so I was just curious if that's played a part at all.

Paul Sweeney 53:12
Right? So where europei comes into this is he, if you are like in your business, if you're finding that, you know, 80% of your cost is going to 20% of your customers, we can then look at what the why, yeah. Is it the customer? Is it what we've agreed to? Or is it something about the customer system? And then you can look at it, it's okay, well, now that I have information available to work with, what do I need to change so that everybody so that the business can run more cleanly?

Jake Van Buschbach 53:46
Yeah, that makes sense. Is there anything else that you wanted to cover?

Unknown Speaker 53:53

Paul Sweeney 53:55
yeah, there's a couple things.

Jake Van Buschbach 53:57
I think we've gotten pretty pretty comprehensive here. One other quick question I do have for you is just any resources, market leaders, anything like that, that people can can look into? I know you've mentioned a couple of books so far, but I'm just curious that there's anything you would recommend people start when they're starting to look into your stuff.

Paul Sweeney 54:19
I guess one of the things that I would suggest is is surround yourself with with some colleagues that you can leverage third, their experience, their knowledge and their connections. So an organization that I participate in is called the Vancouver executive Association.

And they're

a group of business owners and executives that meet regularly and so they're almost like a board of directors, a sounding board, a resource where you can ask questions, and they've all done a lot of stuff in their life. And they can provide you information and ideas. Right, so I wouldn't urges people to become involved in organizations like that. Right? Because, like a lot of resources that I could give her are vendor specific. And of course, they're the the messaging is around selling a product. Right, obviously, that the product has to help your customer. But it tends to be vendor focused. And I'm not sure that, that that's the best resource for me to just hand out.

Jake Van Buschbach 55:25

Paul Sweeney 55:31
Um, then one of the things that that I would like to convey to people is if you're thinking of making a major change to your business, like implementing

Unknown Speaker 55:43

Paul Sweeney 55:45
is to really really think about what decisions you've been avoiding.

Unknown Speaker 55:52

Paul Sweeney 55:55
implement implementing this this type of system is not going to help you continue to avoid the question. Yeah. Right? Or what decision are you avoiding? Right? Was it is it letting somebody go? Because they're, you know, they're they're not a cultural fit or your skill set is no longer good for the business.

That type of thing. Yeah.

Right. So that's, that's one thing I really encourage people to think about.

Jake Van Buschbach 56:25
I think that makes a lot of sense. That kind of ties into what I asked about earlier regarding the fear. Because again, like when you realize, oh, I've been suppressing this, or I haven't been answering this question for three years, like, why have I been doing this like this and it's just like you said, people are averse to change. It can cause a lot of anxiety for a lot of business owners and it can be very overwhelming and some people will start and stop and start and stop and it's it's quite challenging as a vendor trying to help somebody when they're just lurching backwards and forwards You know, so I'm glad you brought that up. And do you notice any other

Unknown Speaker 57:04
sorry, God? So for me,

Paul Sweeney 57:08
I'm not in a hurry to sell something. Mm hmm. I want to make sure that that you you are ready, willing and able to embrace this. Yep. Make the decision. Right. So I'm not keen to to do it before you're really ready.

Jake Van Buschbach 57:26
Yeah. Yeah, I entirely agree. Like, it's one of the reasons we don't do contracts with our clients is, I don't want to work with anyone that doesn't want to work with us. I want to make sure that they're ready to go. And they're ready to start doing whatever goals they have. Because it's so so important. I think, especially with what you're doing. People need to believe in the product. They need to understand why the changes are being made. And it's just so crucial that people are able to leverage these technologies properly, so that their business can start to thrive and if they have a skeleton in the closet, and they refuse to allow you to work on one area, you Tire machine can fall apart. And a lot of people don't. Like you said, it takes about a year for people to really go, Whoa, look, I understood that there were problems. But I didn't understand there were this many opportunities. Like, it's so crazy when when people do start to implement different solutions, like yours. And again, it's just you look back, I tell my staff, the same thing, you're gonna look back in three months, and you're gonna be amazed at how far you've progressed. And we're going to do that every day. And after a year, you're going to be an entirely new person. And it's, I think that software like yours. Does that on a macro economic scale for entire organizations and associations, not just for individuals, but it does it for right. Yeah,

Paul Sweeney 58:45
yes. Yep. I just just makes it the way I like to phrase it turns your business into a well oiled machine.

Jake Van Buschbach 58:53
Yeah, right. It just, literally literally it does. Yeah,

Paul Sweeney 58:58
right. There's no more You know, drive around with the emergency brake on?

Isn't a lot of gas here. And not only,

Jake Van Buschbach 59:07
yeah, yeah, hundred percent. And again, it comes down to that situation where you've got you everyone in your organization has things to do, everyone is an expert in their own way. And the more you can sit down with them, and understand where they're coming from, and give them the freedom to do what they need to do, and then create a standardized system based off of their reports. It just works so well, like as I've removed myself from different aspects of the business, and replace that with people who have 11 years experience or 20 years experience or five years experience doing whatever it is that they're doing. They're going Hey, the way you were doing it was fundamentally broken. And I've gone ahead and reworked everything. So we don't need to talk about this anymore. This is the way I'm going to do it. And I'm so happy when people do that. I see a lot of other business owners go No, it's coming my way blah, blah. And it's just like why would you want To restrict this person who's trying to bring more to the table and trying to say like this is broken, this is a useless waste of everyone's time everyone will prosper if we implement this thing. And I love tools like yours because it gives the business owner, the the givers, the stubborn, resistant to change business owner, the hard facts of Yeah, this is what your system is doing. You need to change this part of your system and you need to keep doing what this part of your system is doing. And like you said, When staff are able to see those changes, they might be resistant at first and then they see the benefit. And they go What should have always been doing this this this is the way it should have been. And it kind of reminds me like you said, well, well machine. It kind of reminds me of like Southeast Asia traffic, where you see that the vans going through and the bicycles are going through and the motorcycles are going through and the guys jogging and everyone's just going as fast as they can go but no one ever gets into a collision. It's just so smooth. And it's this organized chaos, where your business just has all of these people doing their individual roles, but somehow it comes together. And it just creates this kind of mesmerizing operation where it just creates so much more value for everybody. So, yeah, yes,

Paul Sweeney 1:01:19
absolutely. Now, right. So one of the other things that that I wanted to emphasize about the software is like when you start out like in your case, you mentioned that you hate the accounting, you basically outsourced it. And that's a great strategy. But where I find a lot of smaller business owners get themselves into trouble is that they also

throw off the visibility into it.

Right so they never look at a financial statement, or if they do, it's once a month.

The main thing they look at is cash in the bank.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:01:58
Do you have a camera in my office? I just do on the 15th of the month, 15th of the month, every time I look at everything, and I'm like, Okay, this is good enough, I just recently made a change. I'm gonna look at it once a week, last week, but, ya know, literally once a month, and then I'm like, Okay, this is enough, I know that this is happening.

Paul Sweeney 1:02:17
Right? And so what I encourage is, is to have financial statements. And if you don't know how to read them, hire an accountant who will teach you Yeah, right, or hire, you know, pay somebody to act as a CFO for two or three hours a month, and sit down with you and tell you what your financial statements are telling you.

Over time, you'll learn right,

but it's this visibility, teaching yourself that visibility into your business. Because if you don't watch it, you know, it's kind of like driving your car or looking out the windshield. Mm hmm. Sometime you're going to have a problem. Yeah. Right. So having that having those regular reports right there, like. So, one of the things I'm focused on right now is building dashboards for owners and executives. Right? So you can have current timely access to the metrics that determine the success or failure of your business.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:03:27
So important.

Paul Sweeney 1:03:28
Yeah. Right. And it's we know we build them for your business. But the idea is that you can have a daily look at it and you know, you know, everything looks good, huh? I can just go about my day or wait a minute. What's this? I need to ask some questions. Right, but that allows you to be proactive. Yeah. You know, so like in your business, you know, are Am I getting access number of trouble tickets? My particular customer, or are my seeing a set of tickets that are outstanding too long? And then you can just ask questions. Yeah. Right. And what I've, what I, what I've seen is that that visibility, and then you asking questions teaches the rest of your staff.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:22
So you're paying attention.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:04:23
Yeah, exactly. You need to have a I can't remember the word but yeah, another interviewee said the exact same thing you need to give the illusion of oversight. Something like that. Yeah.

Paul Sweeney 1:04:36
Yeah. Right. You need to give the perception that you're actually watching. Mm hmm. And all it takes is that occasional question of, you know, why is this ticket been outstanding before it is? Yeah. Oh, you know, you know, we're waiting for a part or we're waiting for a path. Oh, okay. Yeah, but But meanwhile, everybody else in the meeting has heard the question. Yeah. Then The they have the message that you're paying attention.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:05:03
Yeah, absolutely.

Paul Sweeney 1:05:05
Right. So that's something that I think every business can implement and leverage. And I do think they show it because it'll not only will help them now, but it's a foundational thing that allows them to continue to do it going forward. Now, the back end tools might change, the data sources might change, but you still have your dashboard. And you still have your metrics.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:05:28
Yeah, hundred percent. Awesome. Yeah. Is there anything that you want to touch on other than these topics? Or you think you're all set?

Paul Sweeney 1:05:39
on good, but the one last thing I'd say is if anybody listening to this has been thinking about making some changes to their software for your business, call me. It's a free meeting.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:05:49
Yeah, that'd be awesome. How What else can we promote for you? So obviously flexus and LinkedIn phone number, what was the best thing to reach out and then what would you like to promote?

Paul Sweeney 1:06:00
I'd like to promote, obviously, helping customers with better software and leveraging you know, if even if you don't need new software,

we can talk about how we can leverage what you have.

And then of course, there's building dashboards for your metrics, if anybody's interested in I'd be great to have a conversation.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:06:21
That's awesome. And I'll make sure to throw everything down in the links in the description so people know how to reach. I'll get all that info for me after the show. And then we'll throw that in. And then people will have a quick, easy way to get ahold of you and ask you some questions and something that I really do appreciate Paul. And I think that you and I kind of share this as we're both happy to just give out free advice. We're both nerds about what we do. We both love to talk about what we love to do. And if anyone ever asks me anything, I'm just happy to give out free advice. I'm not overly concerned about making a sale. And I'm just super happy to just make sure that people are on the right track and I'm helping them out. So you and I have had a couple of discussions about before the show, and I've been very, very appreciative of some of the things that we've talked about and the insight you've provided. So thank you again very, very much for coming on today and sharing this information with folks and some of these strategies and different features and things that are available nowadays, because I just really wanted to make sure that there's a little bit more exposure for solutions and for people like yourself, because I think every business, every single business should be using some of these strategies and your software at the end of the day, especially if they want to be expanding their impact in their communities.

Paul Sweeney 1:07:33
Yes. Thanks for having me. Jake. It's great talking to you.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:07:36
Yeah, it was great to have you so again, everybody, please make sure to check out the links in description. We're gonna have all of Paul's info there. And again, thank you so much, Paul. We'll talk to you soon.

Unknown Speaker 1:07:46
Okay, thank you very much. Bye.

Jake Van Buschbach 1:07:48
Bye. And I think that does it for today's video. If you could please leave a like on this video. It really helps us out. If you want to see more videos like this then please hit subscribe if you have a suggestion for a future video or a guest you'd like to see on the show. Please leave a comment down below or email us at Tech Tips at umbrella it Have a great day and see you all soon.