The Pros and Cons of 3 Different Ways To Implement a New Back End Operating System

Thinking of investing in a new operating platform for your business?

A new system will run to the heart of your back office and should underpin your decisions, sales and growth going forwards. 

But while you might be (understandably) focussed on the features, functionality and results a new tech system can help you achieve, it’s crucial to first consider exactly how the system will be implemented – because not all implementation approaches are created equal. 

To help you make the decision that’s right for you, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of the three main approaches to implementation. 

1. The ERP approach

When successful larger businesses run into operational stumbling blocks, they are often tempted by Enterprise Resource Planning software, better known as ERPs. ERPs are considered the ‘traditional’ solution for streamlining the back office, with the technology created for fledgling e-commerce brands of the 1990s.

The ERP approach to implementation has a huge impact on the overall outcome for brands, so it’s worth carefully considering the pros and cons of this option.

Pros

✔ It should streamline your workflows

ERP implementation should set you up with multiple modules that will be able handle many of your business processes, such as accounting, CRM and forecasting, in one centralized location.

✔ It’s usually secure

Managing security permissions and access across a variety of systems is a daunting challenge. Bringing all systems into one ERP usually means everything can be stored in one shared database that can be accessed anywhere. This aspect of implementation is generally considered to be safe and secure.

✔ There are training courses available

Training often isn’t included as standard with ERP implementation. Instead, some ERPs typically offer courses to help businesses understand how to use the system they have invested in. Sometimes these are offered directly and sometimes via third parties which handle implementation. Either way, it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about how your ERP works so that you can maximize your results. 

Cons

⤫ It’s very risky

A whopping 50-75% of ERP implementations fail. The reasons for failure vary, but it often comes down to a lack of planning and support from dedicated retail experts. Even when implementation is successful, 51-54% of users go on to experience service disruptions. 

⤫ It’s insanely expensive

Most ERP implementations cost 3-4 times more than initially quoted. In fact, the average budget for ERP software ends up being $9K per user. Even for the world’s biggest brands, the huge expense of ERP implementation is a significant consideration.

⤫ It’s frustratingly slow

ERP implementation typically takes more than a year – or 420 days to be precise – with the average project taking 30% more time than initially estimated. It’s not uncommon for some ERP implementations to take 2-3 years. This means if you want an ERP system you have to start planning years in advance to avoid disruptions to your business. For modern brands, such a lengthy lead time often simply isn’t an option. 

“We didn’t have months – or years – to wait for a legacy ERP to get set up. Brightpearl went live for us in about a month without any interruption to our day-to-day business, which was really impressive.” – Paul Scipioni, CEO & President, Atlantic Cigar Company 

2. The DIY approach

Brands on a budget often turn to ‘single point’ solutions in an attempt to overhaul their operations cheaply and easily. These solutions include Order Management Systems (OMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS). Single point solutions typically offer a so-called ‘self-guided’ approach to implementation, providing brands with instructions on how to set up the system and migrate data – and leaving them to do the legwork.

Pros

It’s temptingly cheap

The hands-off approach to implementation from single point providers, including OMS and WMS, and the limited functionality of the platforms, means these types of solutions are enticingly low-cost – especially for start-ups and smaller brands. 

It can be done quickly (for simple businesses) 

If you run a straight-forward business with simple workflows, an OMS, WMS or other single point solution may be implemented relatively quickly – providing you have someone within the business that has the technical expertise to manage the process.

Cons

It’s short-sighted

Because single point systems are implemented with zero expert support and only very limited guidance, it often results in an unstable tech stack, with disconnected systems and unstreamlined operations. Many companies need to overhaul these projects within a few years because of ongoing issues.

It’s confusing 

Brands that opt for a standalone solution typically report finding the documentation provided to install it extremely difficult to follow, especially if they don’t have technical expertise or direct experience of installing an operating system previously. With little in the way of human support, businesses can end up deeply frustrated, confused and isolated.

⤫ It can’t handle complexity

If your business has any unique or complex workflows, such as multi-location fulfillment or dropshipping, Implementing a standalone system just won’t work. OMSs and standalone systems offer inexpensive ‘all-in-one’ features that compromise quality. They’re notorious for struggling to handle complex orders and only offer limited reporting and inventory planning functionality.

“The worst thing you can do as a growing retailer is get into an implementation that fails. Self-guided implementation that comes with cheaper options is far too risky – I wouldn’t recommend going that route. Implementation with Brightpearl is handled by experts, and it shows.” – Trevor Martin, Vice President Operations, Snow

3. The expert-led approach

As the retail-focused operating system of choice for some of the world’s biggest and best brands, Brightpearl offers an industry-leading approach to implementation that’s backed by proven results (and hundreds of happy customers). 

Pros

✔ It’s managed by experts

Implementation is the foundation on which the success of an entire operating system rests. Brightpearl takes implementation seriously. A team of dedicated retail experts fully scopes and plans the entire process before getting started – and continues to provide 24/7 support. This ensures implementation runs smoothly – and brands are freed to grow fearlessly.

✔ There’s a fixed, upfront cost

Nobody likes nasty surprises when it comes to investing in new tech, which is why Brightpearl provides an upfront price that’s tailored to the needs of your business, and sticks to it. 

✔ It’s based on a proven formula for success

Unlike ERPs and standalone systems, Brightpearl has a market-leading implementation success rate of 97%. Plus, the average implementation is completed in just 120 days. 

Cons

⤫ There’s not a DIY option

Because implementation is so crucial to the overall success of an operating system, it’s essential that it’s handled by a dedicated team of retail experts who can customize and optimize the system to meet your unique needs. That’s why Brightpearl doesn’t offer so-called self-guided or DIY implementation. 

⤫ It’s not for everyone

Like the system itself, Brightpearl’s unique approach to implementation is designed with founders, growth hackers and omnichannel leaders in mind. Implementation with Brightpearl is managed by experts as part of a wider goal to help fast-growing brands streamline their systems, reach their potential and grow fearlessly. 

“Brightpearl managed the implementation in just three months and provided 1-2-1 training from a friendly expert. It really helped us get the best out of Brightpearl from the word go. By the time we went live, I felt like a Brightpearl master!” – Matt Wisniewski, COO, USA Lab

Want to find out more about Brightpearl’s industry-leading approach to implementation? Book a customized demo today.