Category: Software

What to Do When You Cannot Find the Information System You Need

At my company, Celaque, we have been looking for a Human Resources system to keep a more accurate employee database of our contractors, subcontractors, and other personnel at our construction projects. We can have as many as 300 people working on a building during our peak construction months, and using spreadsheets to track this data is no longer enough.

We have been searching for the ideal tool for over a month and have explored dozens of options. However, we have found our choices to be either too expensive or too limited. Sometimes what you need does not seem to exist. In that case, the solution to the problem is not always straightforward. The following steps may be helpful.

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Wrike for Business: How to Manage Your Work and Productivity

Migrating to a project management app, Wrike, has been one of the most significant breakthroughs I’ve had in my productivity level. Not only has it been a superb discovery for me, but it has also transformed the way we work at my company, Celaque. Wrike is the backbone and the basis for how we record everything we do at Celaque.

I found and started working with Wrike a few years ago with my previous company, where I managed operations. In that role, I experimented to see how Wrike could work for each team member as well as for the company as a whole. We started to use it for processes and task management, evolving and improving upon how we utilized Wrike. When I co-founded Celaque, I knew that Wrike would be one of our primary tools.

As we continue to grow and as Wrike continues to implement new features, how we use Wrike is enhanced. It is a fundamental block of how we operate and communicate within our firm.

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Finding the Right Software Platform for Your Company

Even within the same industry, every company is different. Selecting the systems that you will use within your company can often be difficult because the programs that are available for managing companies are not always customizable. Certain solutions are more adaptable than others, depending on their price.

Modifications are sometimes not enough; you may need to add more systems to arrive at a comprehensive result or implement further add-ons to the system you already have. It all depends on what works for you. Nevertheless, the solution you arrive at will probably never be 100% perfect. A workflow may not be as smooth as you would like, or the system may have quirks that you cannot eliminate.

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New Software: When and How to Implement into Your Business

As a leader in a small or medium-sized company, you are already working with a set of software solutions that take care of most of the organization’s transactions, such as sales, purchasing, and accounting. These systems were usually implemented when the company was in its beginning phases. When the company didn’t have any systems yet, you probably invested in the best software available within your budget and solved as many of the transactions in your company as possible.

As is often the case in small to medium-sized companies, budgets are usually constrained, which means that the set of systems you have implemented for the company will not be flawless. You may have already invested in separate software for sales, accounting, project management, and document storage. Alternatively, you may have invested in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, which is a single solution that integrates a variety of areas in your company. No matter what combination you are working with, there will almost always be gaps.

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How to Structure Acquired Knowledge in a Company

There is a large amount of information that comes into a company on a daily basis. There are many learning opportunities from all those occasions, like insight on best practices, helpful comments, and suggestions. The question is how to bring in all of that acquired information into the company, so it lives as part of the organization itself.

This is not a simple question, and in fact, it’s rather difficult because most of the time, there is no space to think about anything other than the work that must be done. It is nevertheless significant. How can the company become a kind of learning machine that integrates all the beneficial information that will help the company grow even more?

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An Evolving Portfolio Invoicing Process

If you manage properties, like we do at Celaque, you probably know how difficult it is to develop and send monthly invoices to customers. As a portfolio manager, we are responsible for billing rent and other fees to apartments or office space. The invoices have many moving parts, depending on the property; ours include monthly rent, late fees, and condominium fees, and each of these items can vary and depend on different factors. This is the story of how we are evolving from manual to automatic billing.

At one point, we were managing a facility’s accounting, sending out about 300 invoices on a monthly basis to the owners and lessees of the building complex. Initially, compiling and distributing the invoices took about two weeks per month. Although we were using Cloud accounting software at the time (Zoho Books) to send out the invoices and manage payments, the invoices were still being manually uploaded one by one.

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One Last and Powerful Benefit of Our ERP: Enhancements

We recently implemented an Enterprise Resource Management System (ERP) at our firm. The program we selected is NetSuite, which is one of the top cloud-based ERPs available. It has been a 180-degree improvement.

As a real estate development firm, our accounting process and workflow is fully integrated, from inventory purchase to the sale/lease of residential or office units. NetSuite also has tools that organize and catalog our various databases. For more on NetSuite, please refer to my posts: NetSuite: How to Select the Best ERP, and What Happened During Our Year Implementing NetSuite.

Some systems, like NetSuite, come with tools and platforms that allow businesses to modify the system itself to adapt it to a company’s needs more closely. The ability to customize is an additional benefit of transitioning to more advanced systems. NetSuite, for example, has a platform called SuiteScript that allows companies and developers to add to and modify it. Once we implemented NetSuite and were able to manage all of our principal transactions through it, we decided to develop enhancements to automate further and eliminate errors in our operations.

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The End of Excel and How to Substitute It (For the Most Part)

I have been on a crusade to eliminate Microsoft Excel at our company for the past year and a half. Excel is a wonderful tool, don’t get me wrong. I have been using Excel for years and years, and that very loyal, noble spreadsheet has been my support through thick and thin. During my days as an accounting student, I programmed my financial statements and balanced them using Excel. As an investment banking intern, I learned to create advanced financial models with the same tool. In Alianza, the company where I worked previously and where I ran the accounting department, we also used spreadsheets to create our financial statements and their supporting documents.

Through all those times, Excel was dependable and a true friend. Eventually, however, we started having problems. If I look back and analyze it, the issue wasn’t Excel itself, and it still isn’t. It was the errors we kept finding: we either added an extra digit to the number by mistake or the spreadsheets weren’t all connected with one another, so they needed to be reconciled between each other. Once Alianza grew to a certain size, we quickly realized that we spent more time checking to make sure Excel was right than working with the information in the first place. So, when we started Celaque, the company I currently run, I knew our dependence on Excel had to go.

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This Is the Story of Our Latest System Implementation

Last year, we implemented NetSuite, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software at our firm. We were previously using two systems, Zoho CRM and Zoho Books, which we had outgrown. We needed something that we could personalize based on our processes, and NetSuite was the solution (please see my blog post NetSuite: How to Select the Best ERP for more on how we selected our ERP).

Implementing the new system was a company-wide effort which required a lot of hard work, and the first six months were particularly intense. In the end, however, we were able to produce a work of art. NetSuite was the system we needed and more.

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What Happened During Our Year Implementing NetSuite

In 2017 our firm embarked on the biggest system implementation yet: NetSuite, an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. It took six very intense months to become operational, but the full implementation lasted a year because we had bugs and problems that needed to be resolved. Because NetSuite interacted with all the departments of the company, bringing the system online was going to affect everybody.

Prior to implementing NetSuite, we had a very basic accounting system; it only took care of fundamental transactions, such as bills and invoices, and it produced fixed customer statements, accounting reports, and financial statements. While it was a good system for a startup, we realized we had outgrown it.

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