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Choosing a Management System

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I’d like to share with your readers one of my experiences. In 1999, we expanded our business to a new location and a larger facility. Previously, we operated from a shop located behind our home for 14 years and had become quite successful.

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Along with building and expansion came numerous headaches we hadn’t expected but managed to overcome. With the new location, our business continued to thrive – and we realized the time had come to update our accounting system and to purchase a management program to help run our facility.

Our initial contact with the salesman was promising. We’d never used or seen a management system, so based on our knowledge, we purchased the “least expensive” system we felt would fulfill our needs for the price.

This is where the story really begins.

We weren’t prepared to spend countless hours on the phone trying to correct errors or for the additional money that was required to get the basic accounting functions to flow together properly. These functions weren’t included in the software package price, so we were charged additional fees for training.

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The salesman on the initial and follow up visits was supposed to train all key personnel in the use of the system, but he was so poorly trained that we found out later he didn’t teach us many areas of the program or had taught us incorrectly.

We were also told that the system would easily integrate into the accounting system we had and that information would come across accurately and efficiently. We weren’t told the programmers would have to set up the accounts and there would be an additional fee.

The instruction book provided is poorly written and lacks any type of detail, so we’re forced to depend on the company for support, which also costs an additional monthly fee. We also weren’t informed that accounting training would be needed to make the system function properly – so this was an additional cost.

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We now have the system working OK, but it’s been six months since installation. I just received a $600 bill for training on Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable and Sales Tax Payable Account set-up and training that occurred in December.

It’s funny, then, how there was no sales tax showing up in the accounting program, and I had to set it up in the accounting program myself so it would transfer from the management program. This was supposedly done – according to the bill.

I guess the moral of my story is that you get what you pay for. We had read many articles regarding management programs and the cost involved, and we thought we’d made a sound purchase for our budget. Little did we know that there were so many hidden costs and that we might have been better off purchasing a management system from a known industry distributor and not a fledgling company.

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We’re currently reviewing the contract with our lawyer to see if we have any grounds to get our initial investment returned. We’ve learned a valuable lesson and are again shopping for a management system that will better suit our needs. Just a few words of caution: If your business is ready for this step, take the time to investigate all the options before making your final purchase or you may find that your good deal may not be so good after all.

Sincerely,
Rhonda S. Morgan, office manager
Waters Auto Body & Paint

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