How to plan your migration from QuickBooks to ERP
QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting applications for smaller businesses. It’s easy to use and easy to grasp. It is very good at what it does. But it’s not without limitations. Whether you’re outgrowing QuickBooks altogether or you want to keep it and integrate it with an ERP, here are some tips on how to minimize disruption and maximize returns.
With expansion on the cards, the next logical step is to upgrade to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) application. As a QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Enterprise user, you have two options:
- Add a QuickBooks ERP module or integrate an ERP software
- Migrate from QuickBooks to an ERP
ERP software integration with QuickBooks
It is possible to integrate some ERP software with QuickBooks. The accounting software's design facilitates integration with a number of key ERP software suppliers. Thanks to ERP's modular design you can, to a degree, pick which modules you need for your business. Providing your chosen ERP works with QuickBooks and meets your business needs, there is no need to stop using the software.
If your chosen ERP is incompatible with QuickBooks the only solution is to do a full QuickBooks migration to a new ERP system.
If you’re planning to do a full migration let's look at the best way to migrate QuickBooks to ERP.
QuickBooks to ERP migration
QuickBooks is not an ERP system, migrating it isn't headache free. Your business still needs to operate and demands your focus. One approach is to use a specialist team to manage the migration for you. This way your focus is on running the operation while others dedicate their time to successfully migrating the data. Using steering committees is good practice for these kinds of projects.
This brings us to the next issue. Which data needs to migrate?
Data to migrate to your ERP software
QuickBooks data management is often basic compared to ERP data management. ERP systems go beyond QuickBooks scope. This can be overwhelming when trying to work out aspects such as inventory value depreciation.
To begin, work out what aspects are business critical. You might end up with a list that looks like this:
- Inventory stock levels, cost, and lead times
- Existing customer orders including deadlines
- Current balance sheet
- Existing vendor orders
- Plants, plant equipment, and assets
The success of your integration is dependent on the relevant data successfully migrated to your ERP system. It can be complex as most ERP systems provide options that simply don’t exist in the QuickBooks world.
Missing data can lead to inaccurate reporting and it’s easy to lose data during any migration. For example, should you use your mission-critical stock and not account for the usage in the new system, it won’t reorder in time or flag up in a report.
These problems lead to costly delays and even reputational damage.
Planning your ERP data migration
The solution to the issues of data migration is to use trained teams. Good ERP software providers will have their own and be more than willing to guide you through the process. Some may handle it themselves in the first instance and provide training afterward.
Make sure department heads are present when their own data is being migrated. This is a good opportunity to clean data and will save time later on. Your department heads will choose the data to discard. There is no point migrating irrelevant data.
Once the data migration to the new system is complete you should then look at the new options you have to better run your operation. Tell your support teams what you want to be able to see and what you want the system to do. As such, they should train you to use and configure the system as necessary.
Hierarchical permissions for responsibilities and job roles should be set. They can be adjusted later if necessary. You should allow time for the new system to bed down. Use a test system for final checks. This should include another round of data cleansing using the same procedure outlined above.
This test system is ideal for staff training. It provides an opportunity for staff to play with the system and get to know it.
After training is complete you should expect teething problems when the system first goes live. It is important to give your teams full support and build confidence. It is daunting when switching from one system to another especially one that is complex as an ERP.
Only when you and your teams are confident should you stop using the old system. Do not rush to completely switch to the new ERP based system. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You don’t want to trip up and suffer reputation damage as a result.
Making the decision
QuickBooks is fine for what it is but its limitations become apparent when a business grows. This leads businesses down the ERP route as it better meets their needs. Given the scale and complexity of migrating QuickBooks to an ERP system, integrating QuickBooks with an ERP product may be easier in the short term.
Further advantages of QuickBooks ERP integration is that the data is less likely to be omitted during the migration process. Nonetheless, it’s not a stress-free process and pitfalls can occur. Like the full migration option, getting professional support is strongly advised.
Conversely, you may feel a full migration is the right option. As we have explored this, too, has pitfalls and professional support is paramount to success.
Whichever option you go for you should consider the implications of business expansion. You do not want to go through this process only to find you have to repeat it in a year or two.
This decision is governed by your business needs. You should consider other factors such as quality assurance capabilities and ensuring compliance. It’s a long-term decision that incurs costs but has far-reaching benefits and a demonstrable ROI.
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