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ERP systems for SME/SMBs – when is it overkill?

Is a full ERP overkill for an SME/SMB (small medium enterprise/small medium business)? Sam Graham, author of several books on the subject of ERP implementations, shares his thoughts.

Katie Griffin, our Director of Business Development at Spire, connected with Sam online. Sam kindly shared his thoughts on affordable ERP systems and how Spire is a great option for businesses to consider. Sam took time out of his busy author and influencer schedule to play around with a free trial of Spire.

“I really enjoyed playing with the software. I’m looking at it through the eyes of the companies that I have worked with before. I have to say that it’s a nice surprise to see just how much functionality there is in Spire.” ~Sam Graham

ERP systems for SME/SMBs – by Sam Graham

Several years ago, I implemented an upper Tier 2 ERP system at a manufacturing company. They were moving up from manual systems running on spreadsheets, backed up by a basic accounting system. Even before they went live, they were excited about the advantages it would give them. Aside from their primary business, they had a tiny offshoot that made products that complemented their main product range. The unit employed about six people and had a similar number of raw materials and end products.

With the primary business ready to go live, someone decided it would be a good idea to implement the system at this tiny company. To be fair, there was some logic behind this decision, as all of their accounting was done for them by the main business. That meant their exposure to the new system would be just inventory control, sales order processing, purchase order processing, work order processing and costing. Stripping out the things they didn’t need would be a challenge, as running the complete system would have suffocated them (the leading company also ran MRP, WIP tracking and Engineering Change Control, for example), but things got worse.

The client decided that, because it was such a small business unit and their manufacturing processes were so simple, implementing the system would be quick and easy. They originally planned for one day to do the necessary training, with another one day for go-live hand-holding. Luckily, they were persuaded that the time needed for training in how to raise a work order for a small quantity of items didn’t differ noticeably from the time required for training in how to submit a work order for a large quantity of items. Therefore, along with a ruthless cull of unneeded functionality, we managed to get them up and running. However, the users probably never thanked us for it because it was still overkill for what they needed.

Implementing an upper Tier 2 ERP system in a 6-person company is going to the extreme. Companies regularly implement systems that are far too big and far too complex for their needs. This happens for many reasons, but 3 in particular stand out:

One is that a senior manager has arrived from a much larger company. They have experienced ‘Megasoft’ working successfully and believe that if it works well for a large company, it must work well for a small one.

A second is that it was what we call a ‘vanity purchase.’ Companies like telling their customers and suppliers that they have bought ‘Supersoftware.’ Perhaps believing that using a system that big organizations use will turn them into a big organization too. A ‘rite of passage’ almost.

The third common reason is that the selection and implementation team wants a big name on their resumes/CVs so that they can then move on to better-paid jobs in larger organizations.

To put this into perspective, a number of years ago, a particular organization doing $5 billion in revenue every year implemented a Tier 2 system. A few years later, having grown, they considered moving to a Tier 1 system. When they reviewed those against their existing Tier 2, they decided to stick with that, and they have continued to grow. One reason it works for them is that, although they are a large outfit, they are a collection of different business units that operate autonomously, and because they share a chart of accounts structure, it’s easy to consolidate financial performance at a General Ledger level.

Consider the following;

When choosing an ERP system, one must be conscious of future requirements. If the plan is for the company to grow considerably over the next 5 to 10 years (doubling in size or more), it will be necessary to choose a system that allows for and supports that growth. However, understanding that there is an actual price to pay when selecting a system that is oversized is important.

The first of these is the procurement cost. Whether you go for a Cloud solution or an on-premise system, a Tier 1 will cost you more than a Tier 2, which will cost you more than a Tier 3. That’s not to say that the more extensive systems aren’t worth the cost; it’s just that if you buy them, you can be paying for functionality you don’t need and will be spending a lot.

Closely allied to procurement cost is the annual maintenance cost. The maintenance fee guarantees you support if you run into problems with the system and ensures that you get regular updates and enhancements to the software. But it’s not cheap: for example, SAP, at the time of writing this blog, is charging 21% per year, and that means that if you keep your system for ten years, you will have paid over three times the purchase price for it. And that must be a good argument for minimizing your system procurement costs.

The next thing to consider is implementation costs. As systems get bigger, they get more complex. Complex systems need more setup, configuration, and training, which all add to the cost. Complex systems are also more challenging to understand. At the most basic level, that means that if someone drops a pebble in the system, it’s harder to know where the ripples will go. Fewer people will know the potential impact if even a simple change is made. That makes it harder for people to accept the new system because if they need help understanding how it works, they are less likely to trust what it tells them.

A final factor to consider is time. A complex system will take longer to implement. Even if you still need to do an ROI calculation, you probably want to get the system running as soon as possible. That may be because you plan to use it to solve business problems (excessive delivery lead times, high costs, etc) or support for your existing systems is being withdrawn. Regardless, you’ll want to avoid long implementation times. They encourage project scope creep, promote over-dependency on the consultants and can lead to the ERP implementation being seen as a journey rather than a destination, with constantly reset target go-live dates.


So, is a full ERP overkill for an SME/SMB? If you are Boeing, Johnson & Johnson or Volkswagen, you may need a Tier 1 system. But if you are an SME/SMB, there is a good chance you don’t. For most companies, selecting a system that allows for implementation in a timely manner and at an affordable rate is a much better option.

Before you waste time, money, and energy implementing the wrong system, you should discuss your options with an expert and take a look at Spire Systems. Great software at an affordable price. 

Sam Graham

Author of 4 books on the subject of ERP, Implementation of ERP 

ERP Observer & Blogger

**Top ERP Voice on LinkedIn**


Selecting the right accounting software for your business

Investing in the right accounting software for your business is vital to its success. Not only does your software have to be right for you today, but it also has to work for you at least 5 to 10 years from now. Good accounting software can grow with your business as it expands. A new accounting and business management solution can be assessed within 4 sections: Technology, Productivity, Features and Value. With that in mind, here are three key points to remember when considering a new accounting and business management software.

1) The Right Fit

The reality is there is no software solution out there that will fit every aspect of your company’s needs. Most businesses fail to realize that specific internal processes will need to adapt to a new program. However, selecting software that can integrate most of your day-to-day business’s core operations as much as possible is achievable.

The needs of your warehouse and finance teams need to co-exist so you’ll want to have solid functionalities for both. A solution that offers complete and seamless communication between your operations and back-end accounting does exist. However, in some cases, the accounting may be more robust than the operations or vice-versa. Ensure that the solutions you’re considering offer powerful functionality across the entire solution and not just in one area.

New accounting software should also offer the opportunity to improve processes within the different user departments. Situations where the warehouse staff picks from paper orders and manually updates inventory counts, can be modernized and resolved to a smooth, digital process. A good solution allows for fewer human errors and more time saved. Another example would be where client credit card details are still being kept on a spreadsheet or within your software client list and not safely stored in a vaulted and tokenized payment processing system tied into your receivables.

Modern functionalities are essential, and so is process improvement. Understanding your current solution’s limitations while closely examining your internal day-to-day workflow will help narrow down all the new software options out there.

2) Think Ahead

If you are considering a new accounting software, then the chances are that you may be experiencing the pain of outgrowing your current solution. Over time, your business will continue to grow, evolve and change. Even if you stay at a certain size, technology evolves, forcing businesses to consider new solutions. A scalable solution will grow with your company and keep up with technology.

Business growth can look different for different businesses. In a warehouse environment, we often see more inventory added or the need to move to a multi-warehouse model, which requires software with multi-location functionality. Or perhaps where entering one order at a time no longer works because your business has grown to such high volume transitions where entering batches makes more sense.

Features like cloud technology, user-defined fields, paperless options, automation, business intelligence make a big difference when shopping for new software. A scalable software will give you options like these to use today and adapt them for when you’re bigger tomorrow.

3) Calculate the ROI

When shopping for new software, you likely will be asking what is the ROI on this purchase. Several common factors come into play, but even at a high level, the intricacies of your business play a part. At a glance, you can tell whether you are gaining or losing on your investment. An investment in software is no different—you need to be able to measure whether you are getting everything you can out of the solution.

Consider understanding TCO (The Cost of Ownership) better to understand the ROI (Return on Investment).


What is the cost of ownership for your new solution? It would be the cost of the actual software, of course. It is also likely the cost of the services provided to get your new software up and running. Data conversion, implementation, customization, training, annual maintenance, and support are all part of your cost of ownership. The cost of ownership if you stay with the software you’ve outgrown won’t just be the cost of antiquated hardware and software, but also the potential loss of revenue from being stunted and bottlenecked – which will cost you more than your current software.

Once you have a realistic approach to the cost of ownership, you can now better evaluate the ROI.


There are a few ways to calculate an ROI out there, and Google can quickly help you with simple to complex formulas. However, what most business owners fail to include in their ROI calculation is the following:

  • How much employee time is spent on repetitive and manual tasks? What does that translate to in salary or wages?
  • What are the costs of potential penalties and fines, potential costs of data damage
  • How does a decrease in cash flow affect the business– what are the potential costs we associate with that? Vendor remit payment time, how that can affect a business relationship.
  • Credit card transaction fees when it’s taken 60+ days to collect on an invoice – the cost associated with managing that late payment VS payment automation where pre-authorized payments happen on time.
  • Cost savings because they now know what their inventory counts are and no longer are ordering excess resulting in loss of product


The final value of the investment is where you have to be forward-thinking, and either do some math based on the numbers you know or do some estimating. Aside from the hard costs associated, what are some of the not-so-obvious costs that will decrease with a new solution? Essentially, we calculate the benefit of the investment vs. the cost of the investment, but that benefit becomes very specific based on your needs. Click here to download a free Accounting Software Evaluation Checklist to assist you in your search for a new solution.

Quality software will prove its worth in a short time. Along with a certified consultant who will guide you through the proper setup and training, you’ll be thankful that your growing business is in good hands.

Watch our demo and contact us today to learn more about how Spire can be the right software for your business.


5 W’s of bringing your business online

Working in the office has been a rare sight these last couple of years. Rather than gathering at the water cooler, employees were meeting via Zoom, GoogleMeet, Microsoft Teams and various other communication/meeting tools that allow us to collaborate from anywhere. Software systems being accessible off-site have also been around for some time now. Working remotely and the options available to us have existed pre-pandemic, yet it’s surprisingly still not clear which way to go when considering an “Off Premise” solution. We’ll take a look at the 5 Ws your business should be asking when considering bringing your business online.

Before we explore how your business can decide what’s best, it is important to lay down some basic framework. There are several ways your business can set up off-site work; let’s look at three.


Cloud-Hosting will store your computing and resources, typically with a monthly hosting fee and computer service provided via the internet. Think of Cloud as a storage unit that can hold your programs and computer demands outside your office and is available as long as you have internet access. SaaS (Software as a Service) is a subset of cloud computing, and it’s worth noting that not all SaaS solutions are built in the Cloud. They could be made on a local terminal but then deployed in the Cloud. Learn more about Spire’s Cloud-Hosting solution here.

Web (Browser-Based)

Applications can run either on a computer or mobile device, accessed via a browser (like Google Chrome, Edge, Safari). These are designed to work very similarly to the desktop version of your program but may have a slightly more condensed or light look or feel to them. They typically run the same way as an app you download to your phone. In most cases, web applications sync with programs run at the office. Learn more about Spire’s browser-based applications here.


A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secured tunnel in which data exchange can flow from your computer at the office to your laptop at home or on the go. VPN offers an encrypted, secure, and stable connection as long as your internet connection is good and your VPN security setup is done right (this is an IT service). A Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) gives users access to the physical work desktop. Essentially, RDP is the graphical interface needed to connect to a local machine.

5 Ws your business should be asking when considering making your software accessible from anywhere

Deciding what is right for your business, from a classic on-site model to a more modern and accessible solution, is challenging. Asking five basic questions will help you identify your business needs, staff accessibility, environment, infrastructure and security.


Who is it that needs access to your systems? Are they high-level, high-value employees, administrators or on-the-road salespeople? Identify which roles within the organization need to access the systems while out of the office. The warehouse staff likely may not need outside access in the same way as the salesperson in the field or the executive management. User permissions that you would see in place in a local in-office scenario should also be considered.


What information do the identified users need? Are there salespeople on the road, accessing client lists, accounts, and placing orders? Answering the “who question” needs remote access is essential for identifying the “what”.


Does workflow efficiency improve with an off-site solution? Immediate access to real-time data anytime anywhere can play a significant role in improving things like order processing time and customer response time. Often the “why question” a business wants to have a remote or Cloud solution isn’t for just one reason. Typically, we see awareness of infrastructure costs, unforeseen and uncontrollable scenarios like the pandemic, and more access to qualified people due to there being no geographical boundaries.


Having a reliable internet connection is paramount in bringing your business online in any off-site scenario you consider. Service agents out in the field in no data zones will be problematic. The off-site strategy should also consider having dependable internet service providers that offer mobile data solutions options. Also, companies with employees working in different countries and time zones should be aware of any time restrictions when connecting to the office.


Identifying when your team needs access and how often is also essential. Are staff working typical business hours, or are they part-time members who only need access to your systems remotely for a short period? Understanding the length and frequency of your off-site needs will help your evaluations.

Cloud-Hosting has been increasingly popular, and it is safe to say that it is no longer just a trend. Mobile applications are increasingly being adopted by businesses and offer several benefits to the organization.

Bringing your business online doesn’t have to be a leap of faith.  Businesses today need to be adaptable with little to no interruption. Modern technologies such as Cloud Computing, Mobile, and Remote options allow companies to run, regardless of your staff’s location.

The 5 Ws mentioned above will ultimately help your business answer how you will access your business when not in the office.

Has your business outgrown QuickBooks? 

 Along with Intuit’s various product offerings, QuickBooks has been the go-to accounting software for small businesses across North America for years. Today, small growing companies can consider Pro, Plus, Enterprise and even Online (QBO) versions of QuickBooks, with many add-ons to meet growing demands. Although Intuit has done an excellent job of providing different software options, the reality is that QuickBooks and all its versions are designed for small businesses but offer little room for growth. The lack of scalability and flexibility leaves owners feeling the limits of their accounting software. 

Business Growth

The growth of a business isn’t always measured by profit revenue or how many employees it has. Loss of time, productivity and employee engagement are contributing factors to why a business can be stagnant. Growth is also seen in changes to processes for meeting customer demands. Acquiring new equipment and product lines or ensuring regulatory compliance may also be considered “growth.” With the various ways business owners face growth, scalable software is needed to keep up and help the business maintain its success. 

Many small and medium-sized companies use one version or another of QuickBooks as their first financial software. It’s simple to use, well known and provides basic features that enable almost every organization to get up and running. However, when all goes well and your company expands, you quickly run into some limitations that will inevitably force many QuickBooks Desktop users to move to a more comprehensive accounting and business management solution.

Are you feeling the limitations of QuickBooks? 

Collecting and processing your financial and operational data becomes more complicated when your company expands. Your supply chain is not the fine-tuned machine you thought it was, and the many workarounds you have in place are beginning to make you fear that you may be unable to keep up. To help evaluate if you’ve outgrown QuickBooks and all its versions, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Do we need to be entering data manually? Are there more integrated or automated ways to get the information we need into the system?
  • Are we managing some or most of our inventory outside of QuickBooks? In spreadsheets or add-ons? 
  • Are we paying for more than one system or application to meet our requirements? 
  • Are we transferring data from one system to the next to keep everything current?
  • Do we have the flexibility to manage inventory between warehouses?
  • Can we easily update prices and projects based on accurate inventory counts? 
  • Can we customize quotes and manage partial shipments, backorders and RMA’s well?

If the answers to these questions are less than optimal, it might be a good sign that it’s time to look forward. However, moving forward isn’t always so easy. QuickBooks users will often consider staying within the QuickBooks family because the jump to a complete ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution is too much. Too much learning, too much time, too much money. Up until now. 

Spire is your upgrade from QuickBooks 

Switching to Spire from QuickBooks has never been so simple. Spire has become a solution to the problems QuickBooks users face. Our business management solution is designed to give your business ERP power without the hefty ERP ticket price. With all our modules fully integrated, Spire gives you the power of an ERP without requiring so many extra apps and add-ons. Spire includes a conversion tool specifically designed to migrate all of your current and historical QuickBooks Desktop (Pro, Premier and Enterprise editions) data without losing any information.

Now is the right time. Switch to Spire and start working with software that is made to grow with your company.

Schedule a free, no-obligation discovery call and let’s see if Spire is right for you. 


Spire Lot Tracking

Spire lot tracking software can help significantly boost efficiency, accuracy, and profitability.

What is Lot Tracking Software?

Lot tracking, also known as batch tracking, helps a business with product traceability. Software solutions with lot tracking not only keep inventory accuracy but also offers the ability to track product lots through the entire supply chain, which allows you to track groups of products/shipments from the supplier, to the point it reaches your warehouse, to then the customer.

Lot tracking is also important in achieving compliance with the FDA, CFIA and/or ISO. This is the case if your business is in a sector such as:

  • Food distribution
  • Pharmaceutical and medical
  • Automotive
  • Children’s products

Your Business Challenges

If you run a business without batch tracking, you are likely aware of the disadvantages. These issues include:

  • The lack of being able to check full information about a product quickly.
  • If an inventory is manually checked, this can lead to problems – both in terms of human error incorrectly listing the correct stock numbers and ensuring products are constantly in stock.
  • You may not be complying with industry standards.
  • You cannot track products end-to-end from the manufacturer to the customer.
  • As information isn’t immediately accessible, it is almost impossible to facilitate recalls.


Spire offers many advantages that can give your business an edge over competitors. These include:

  • Recalls are easy: Thanks to lot traceability, you can keep check of everything that revolves around your products. All information is on-hand and readily accessible, which makes it easy to check up on products that need to be recalled.
  • Expiry dates are no longer a concern: You can forget about expiry dates causing trouble. As all information is easily accessible and available, you can quickly respond to any products close to expiration. You can even set it so that products are on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis, where products with the earliest expiry are shipped first.
  • Communication made easy: As you have all the information on hand, such as a product’s lot number, expiry date and date of purchase, there’s no need to root around for information when you have to get in touch with a supplier or customer. It’s all there, ready to access.
  • Productivity is increased: Ultimately, implementing Spire lot tracking software means your business will significantly improve overall. When compared to the time-consuming nature of manual batch tracking, you save time, effort and money with inventory management. You can assign batch numbers to products and expiration dates seamlessly.

Furthermore, these points don’t touch on the fact that Spire’s lot tracking software is an all-in-one package that integrates accounting, inventory and sales management features. It means this one solution can manage your whole business.

Contact us today for a free trial of Spire.

5 Tips to help improve your inventory & warehouse management

Managing inventory and warehouses are synonymous, yet each has its responsibilities. Noting the difference between the two makes sense when we want to improve our internal processes.

Inventory management deals with items, managing movement of items, forecast trends, and managing pricing and stock quantities, to name a few.

Warehouse management is the physical aspect of your operations. Warehouse management involves transparency into multiple locations, warehouse mapping, where your items are and empowering staff with tools they need.

While both have some process and management differences, they tend to face challenges tightly linked.

Loss of inventory control is often the cause of many operating issues. These can stem from more than just one area. Ultimately the consequences of such lead to audit problems, loss in revenue and efficiencies, angry customers, poor employee morale, high inventory holding costs and others. We’ve identified five common challenges around the loss of inventory control and offer you tips on how to improve your inventory and warehouse management.

  • Human Error:

    When an item has been misplaced or miscounted, it can affect all levels of operations. Relying on your staff to manually count or randomly decide where things should go can have a huge ripple effect throughout the life of an order, or the entire organization for that matter.

    • Tip: Reducing paper such as pick tickets, scratch pads, and count sheets by implementing scanning abilities. Implementing barcode scanning results in less uniqueness and helps to have consistency in how your team captures information. You also help eliminate work for the warehouse manager, who typically would gather count sheets and other papers.
  • Imbalance of inventory

    : Too much stock can sometimes be caused by placing a purchase order for more than needed. Or the reverse, not having enough quantity on hand can also happen. Both instances are due to a lack of transparency in the warehouse.

    • Tip: Don’t let inventory pile up. Products we typically order on request should be sold as soon as we receive them. Ideally, you will have zero non-stocked items in your warehouse. Any quantity of non-stocked items should be regarded as excess. Consider adopting SKU rationalization. SKU rationalization is when a business decides whether or not to keep certain SKUs or eject them due to a lack of profitability. SKU rationalization involves weighing up several factors, including fulfillment costs, demand consistency, and return rates.
  • Inaccurate Location

    : Your system says that inventory items are in one location when they aren’t. Incorrect location details mean delays in order processing, mistakes in inventory counts, unnecessary POs and more.

    • Tip: Proper warehouse mapping, preferred primary location, and proper labelling of shelves are critical. While some items may be significant and easy to see and identify, others can be an ocean of little parts crucial to an order. When your warehouse process has mapping and structure, shelving locations or bin locations are correctly labelled and used. A sensible solution will use label printers with scanning features built right into your software. This tip may take time to put together, but it will help significantly improve the tracking of your inventory items within the warehouse.
  • Garbage in and garbage out:

    Data entry isn’t necessarily the most challenging task; however, it is one of the areas where mistakes most commonly occur. Aside from typos, data entry errors happen because of inconsistencies within the inventory and warehouse management. Another area that causes inaccurate data entry exists within the software’s user privileges granted to team members. Without user permissions properly defined, team members can unknowingly and unintentionally contribute to inaccurate data. For example, a warehouse clerk may have the ability to search for an item but shouldn’t necessarily have the ability to change an item’s location or inventory number.

    • Tip: Eliminating manual data entry is the first step in avoiding inaccurate data, and bar code scanning is the place to start. Using barcodes and scanners avoids incorrect inventory numbers, wrong warehouse location, inaccurate counts and more. It also means less staff time spent keying in information from a piece of paper or Excel spreadsheet. Making sure your team member’s roles are clearly defined and matching the software’s user permissions to reflect such is key. Good software will allow many different functions to be turned on or off globally throughout the application. Ensuring you have controlled parameters and user privileges will make a significant difference.
  • Antiquated thinking & systems

    : “we’ve always done it this way” is a sentence we’ve all heard or even said too often. It is true that while a business may have seen success for over 30 + years by operating with the same processes, it stands to reason that in the modern world, those old ways don’t always serve your business best.

    • Tip: Keep your processes contemporary by streamlining and automating otherwise manual tasks. In addition to the tips mentioned above on avoiding human error and location accuracy, other ways of automating your inventory and warehouse management include wave picking, dashboard reports, and cloud-based solutions that give you anytime and anywhere access; contemporary solutions you should consider for your business.

Spire is a fully integrated accounting and business management software system that has the wholesale distribution business in mind. Our robust inventory module includes lot and serialized tracking, multi-warehouse, multi-company, multi-user, and multi-currency.

SwiftCount is a recognized and approved Spire Integrated Technology Solution that offers warehouse management and contemporary functionalities. With modern technology and a user-friendly interface, businesses using Spire & SwiftCount see significant improvement in their warehouse management and easily find the ROI in this solution within a reasonable time frame. To learn more, visit  SwiftCount

Fostering and Strengthening Client Relationships

Healthy client relationships are a crucial part of the success of your business. Fostering and strengthening these relationships requires more than just capturing the financial transactions of your business. It involves using customer relationship management software. Accounting software can only do so much. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is often mistakenly categorized as a sales tool by most business owners, and while it is a fantastic sales tool, a CRM is also mighty in helping to strengthen client relationships. CRMs help businesses understand their customers better than your ERP does.

CRM & ERP – what is the difference?

CRM software ensures companies record every interaction with present and prospective clients. CRMs capture every minute detail of the company’s engagements with clients and prospects. Integrating a CRM with your ERP ensures that customer satisfaction levels are high. The ultimate goal when implementing a CRM is building trust with your customers for the company and maintaining a healthy long-term relationship with them.

An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) is pre-packaged business management software used to improve the enterprise’s overall performance. While not every business is an “Enterprise,” most medium to large companies require an ERP system. A prominent feature of an ERP is the shared database between accounting and operational transactions that provide an array of functions used by the organization’s various departments.

Nearly all growing businesses will need both ERP and CRM either as a single platform for both or an integrated solution. Just as we see entry-level software users having outgrown their solution and turning to ERP systems like Spire, the same can be said for businesses managing their customer relationships either within stand-alone tools like Microsoft Outlook, Excel or even areas within an ERP that weren’t necessarily designed for that.

CRMs – More Than Just a Sales Tool

Companies with relatively straightforward financials and a large customer base requiring frequent contact would need a good CRM to help manage all the customer interactions.

The benefits of having integrated CRM are high. Collaboration is one of the top reasons to have a CRM. Sales, customer service and accounting can collaborate on a customer account or have transparency throughout the departments when working on a sale or new customer. Automation within a CRM eliminates duplicate work and human error while offering consistent branding and communication throughout the organization. Improved customer experience can easily be seen in a short time as customers like it when company representatives know their account details. Ultimately, build lasting relationships by consistent contact with your clients and prospects using little effort. All of these benefits lead to increased revenue for the company.

CRM client acquisition benefits:

  • Maintain centralized database
  • Manage communications and interactions with prospects
  • Automate data entry
  • Follow-ups
  • Better organized contact data
  • Segment prospect
  • Create sales forecasts
  • Scale sales process over time
  • Monitor and maintain the acquisition process

 CRM client retention benefits:

  • Maintain detailed history of account (before they became a customer)
  • Audit trail of all communications
  • Follow-ups
  • Better internal team communication
  • Create sales reports beyond just dollars & items
  • Opportunity to improve sales cycle, onboarding of customers, customer lifetime relationship
  • Monitor and maintain retention process

Automation and Integration

Does this sound familiar to you? A prospect reaches out via your company’s website, your team receives an email notification and proceeds to enter the details manually into your lead capturing “system.” Perhaps all leads get entered as a “lead” without any identifiable metrics to see how interested someone is. Or even to identify that they may already be a customer.

Your company has four strong pillars with four different sets of data! Your marketing team has customer information, and your sales team has different information on the same customer. Yet, the customer service and accounting teams also have a completely different set of customer data. Spreadsheets or other documents on a team member’s desktop are not visible to other departments. Siloed departments with a lack of transparency contribute to customer dissatisfaction and lost sales opportunities.

An integration between your CRM and ERP will provide transparency between departments, and specific automation tools within a strong CRM will automatically place that “Contact Us” lead and nurture it according to the sales processes you have in place. Automation can extend triggers to launch particular tasks and activities throughout multiple departments, improving efficiency, response time and follow-ups, all critical ingredients to customer satisfaction.

Dashboards & Shared Data

Cost per lead and ROI on promotions are important measurable pieces of data that can help you improve your customer relationships. Not knowing where a sale came from or how much of an investment (in both time and money) you made in a particular campaign or promotion can sometimes result in inaccurate reporting. CRMs provide metrics that your accounting software won’t, particularly with email campaigns. Details such as:

  • Open rates
  • Click rates
  • Conversion rates
  • Shares or forwards
  • And more

This type of data can be shared throughout the organization and allow for improved ideas on providing stellar service, knowing what customers are interested in, and helping various departments with their projections, from cash flow, purchasing and customer service.

Valuable and insightful data tends to exist in several different areas. Department heads waste time retrieving required data from multiple resources; ERP, Google Analytics, MailChimp, or others. A good CRM will allow for dashboard reporting and, when integrated, can also pull financial data from the ERP. One dashboard report with data from different departments can be a powerful and insightful tool.

Dashboard reporting has become a very trendy term, and while they mean something different to everyone, dashboard reports should offer real-time results. If you’ve wanted a dashboard report for your department, consider defining what that report would look like for you.

For example, businesses need to know what they want to see at an individual role level – dashboards for the CEO are not the same as the warehouse manager. These basic categories help define what most dashboard reports offer:

  • Operational: The most common dashboard type, with metrics updating in real-time showing data related to daily operations. An operational dashboard provides a detailed look into the business’ performance. This type of dashboard allows a large amount of data without too many drill-downs.
  • Analytical: Use data from the past to identify trends that can influence future decision-making. Usually, those who want an analytical dashboard require a level of understanding that a typical user may not have.
  • Strategic: Track performance with your key performance indicators to better align actions with strategy. If you are looking for a dashboard to share with your whole organization, consider creating a strategic dashboard.

Therefore, healthy client relationships are crucial and they are completely manageable when businesses use a CRM integration with their accounting software.

Spire Integration Partner Gemini Logic has built an integration between Spire and HubSpot, a user-friendly and powerful CRM. Together, these software solutions offer functionality that allows businesses to foster new client relationships and strengthen the ones they have. To learn more about HubSpot Connect for Spire, click here.

Cash flow tips to help your small business

At some point, most businesses will hit cash flow issues, even with the best cash flow tips at hand. Sometimes businesses will delay payment to vendors and discount invoices as an incentive to get customers to pay faster. This may seem like a good solution. However, these temporary “solutions” can set the business up for even more cash flow issues. Improving efficiency in the accounting department is a small project that will take little time and can return great results. With a well-thought-out plan and using the technology your business currently has, you can set up some best practices. Here are some cash flow tips that will help your inflow and outflow of cash – if you apply them!

Tip 1: Frequent Projections for better cash flow reporting 

Make projections frequently. By closely monitoring critical cash flow data, you’ll be able to make better, more accurate and more up-to-date projections. You’ll be more likely to keep your business out of financial trouble. Your projection reports should be easy to create, save and auto-refresh with the most current data when you launch them. A sound accounting system will allow you to easily set up an “at-a-glance” view where you can select the data fields you want to see to make these cash flow projections. Of course, the query criteria will depend on the data that exists already in your system.

Tip 2: Customization for better cash flow management 

Every accounting system can manage debits and credits. However, not all systems allow flexibility to add unique information to your business practices. For example, when managing cash inflow (Accounts Receivables), expected payments can be projected by categorizing them as “Promised Payments.”  Moreover, the ability to create a series of payment statuses along with selecting a date (calendar field) will allow for more accurate cash inflow reports beyond what the traditional age buckets offer. As a result, creating projections based on when your clients say they will pay you versus your payment terms can help avoid cash flow issues.

Tip 3: Increase Payment Methods – Both Ways

AP: Decreasing the time it takes to pay your vendors can impact relationships. The use of paper cheques has been steadily declining in Canada, shrinking by roughly five percent a year, according to the Canadian Bankers Association. Electronic payment has become ubiquitous with advancements in payment technologies that enable services like wire transfers, debit payments, PayPal and Bitcoin. Setting up EFTs and paying vendors with credit cards can help ensure your payments arrive on time or even early, which some vendors even offer discounts for!

AR: If your business doesn’t accept credit card payments, you are lowering your cash inflow and revenue opportunities. For example, taking credit cards and accepting digital forms of payment such as e-transfer and wire/bank transfers will significantly improve your cash flow. Credit card transactions are electronically processed and are likely to be settled quickly and deposited in your business bank account by the processor within days. As a result, providing both your clients and prospective clients with more options other than writing and mailing cheques will likely make them happy, as well as you!

Bonus Cash Flow Tip: Credit Card Payments are no longer an option

The benefits of accepting credit card payments extend beyond just improved cash flow. Spire is available with credit card processing throughout partner Payfirma. Accepting credit card payments with Payfima will:

  • Increase sales opportunities: Credit cards offer the freedom to move businesses anywhere the customer goes. Owners are no longer confined to store hours or a brick-and-mortar location. You can accept payments anywhere, anytime with a mobile card reader and/or online.
  • Improve productivity: Processing cash and cheques not only require more money but also takes more time. Time wasted with trips to the bank, managing accounts receivables and chasing cheques. When you accept credit cards, the process is automated.
  • Secures your responsibility as the merchant: Payfirma allows you to ensure that you are PCI DSS-compliant. Vaulting credit card information tokenizing and encrypting transactions, Payfirma makes sure that your business is not in violation of your merchant agreement. This service ensures your responsibility to your clients is intact.

Use the right technology wisely. Thinking outside the box and adopting flexible payment solutions both for your AP and AR are concepts that will help you manage your cash flow. So when we apply these simple yet effective cash flow tips, we can see within 30 days the difference.  Giving us more insight into our systems beyond just the debits and credits.

Click on these links for more information about Spire and Payfirma.


Batch accounting and Real-time accounting the Spire Way

For a long time now, real-time accounting versus batch-based accounting has been a subject of debate. In this blog, we explore the benefits of each. We will also explain how Spire offers batches in some places and real-time accounting in others.


Batch-based processing has several advantages. In classifying entries to ensure accuracy, having better internal controls allowing a review before posting, and  in preserving the audit trail’s integrity. Batch-based accounting also makes sense for organizations processing large numbers of transactions. In some ways, batches are more efficient and easier to perform. Batches make sense when accumulating employee time and processing payroll altogether. This process allows for time saved in payroll. In the AR, depositing one cheque (or payment) at a time can be rather cumbersome. Unless it’s one big cheque, we are not likely to see bookkeepers making one deposit at a time, but rather a batch of many deposits at once. For organizations with no immediate need for information, it is reasonable to delay data processing by using batch-based accounting.


While in some cases, batch-based may allow for a more efficient and audit-tight way of processing accounting data, it also presents some disadvantages.  More and more businesses need the ability to take immediate action on items that are crucial to their business. For example, purchasing managers at the mercy of a batch-based system would find it counter-productive to wait until batches post to provide inventory reports. Knowing that the need for real-time data isn’t just for the finance people, these businesses end up spending more of their budget for add-ons to increase access to their data in real-time. In this scenario, real-time accounting is better suited.

Keeping track of every transaction as they happen gives department heads an instant view of their overall financial status. Thus enabling decision makers to make more accurate projections. Being able to filter and compare using real-time data means companies can keep a close eye on margins and identify areas that need improvement. We see this in adjusting product prices like landed costs (duties, shipping, etc.). This fucntionality ensures accuracy of margins and profits per item, empowering an organization and keeping them one step ahead of the competition.

Which process is right for your business?

Accessing and understanding the data that makes up your debits and credits is critical to growing a business. Data isn’t just a way to analyze numbers; it’s a helpful way to react to growth potential when the opportunity arises. It also potentially prevent risks that have yet to happen.  Mining meaningful data contributes to the company’s success, however when data isn’t processed the best way, it can be destructive. Especially when attempting to achieve your reporting requirements.

To summarize, with batch-based processes we analyze data over time:  weeks, months, quarters, or years; for some, that process works just fine and is preferred.  Real-time data is crucial for those needing to make fast decisions in fiannce and that extend beyond the accounting department.

The Spire Way

Spire offers batches in some places where it makes sense. In Sales Orders, you can choose to batch or live post when invoicing.  With batching, the invoices are held in a closed state until a supervisor reviews, makes any needed changes and then creates a batch.  Next, they would close the batch to post to AR and the GL.  With live posting, the invoices are posted to AR and the GL right away.  If changes are needed then a credit and rebill has to be done. Batch and Live processing in Spire are also available in Accounts Payables and Accounts Receivables and Payroll Timecards.

You can easily manage batch-based vs. live posting in Spire’s company settings. Learn more about Spire’s company and user settings by watching this webinar, where we also many other cool features.

Bottom line: Spire allows you to run your business the way you want – whether that be live posting or batch accounting, we can accommodate your process.

For more information on how Spire offers your choice of batch-based accounting or real-time accounting along with business intelligence reporting, click here. We’ll be happy to provide you with a free demo and help you further discover the power of Spire.

Ransomware: The ugly truth and how you can be better prepared.

After seeing several new threats this year already, some old ones are still lingering. Surprisingly, some businesses are still caught unprepared. The truth is that different types of malware are rearing their ugly heads with new ways of taking advantage. Ransomware is a severe threat. Recently, we heard about a business that had the misfortune of dealing with just this.

Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts the victim’s files. A ransom demand is made. The criminals claim they will release your data once you’ve paid. When your information is encrypted, Spire (and other programs) won’t be able to read your data files—bringing business to a grinding halt. You won’t be able to access your data or enter in new data. This putting you at the mercy of the attacker. Ransoms vary from a few thousand dollars to several hundreds of thousands, if not more.

Ransomware can make its way into your system in several ways. The most common is through scam phishing emails. These emails look like you a communication from a known source; direction from your boss, a payment from a client, or email from a vendor. Often these look like short little “chat-type” emails with an attachment or a link, enticing you to click or open. For example: “Did you write this?” or “I have a special project for you.” These files will come in masquerading as a file from a sender you would trust, making it challenging to decern if it’s a trustworthy message. Once you downlaod them, they take over your computer and your server.

The best defense against ransomware is to be ready. While there are anti-virus programs that can catch malicious programs as they arrive, being diligent is best practice. Proper data management will save you from being a victim of ransomware.

Here are four tips:

  1. Keep up with patches for your operating systems and staying up-to-date to help ensure fewer vulnerabilities.
  2. Never install software or give admin privileges unless you know exactly what it is. Better yet, leave software installation to the experts.
  3. Talk to the experts! If you have an IT department or are outsourcing IT company, stay in touch regularly to ensure that they provide you consistent service.
  4. Last and MOST importantly! BACK UP YOUR DATA! If your data is backed up, the ransom attackers can ask you for billions, and it won’t matter. You should back up your data incrementally and automatically at pre-set times. Offsite back ups are a smart way of securing your data. This way should you be a victim, you can quickly recover. Having a direct connection for your backups to your network will not help. The likelyhood is that a connected backup will also suffer from this attack.

Atticipating this type of attack is the best defense. Taking the time to have a company-wide informative session on digital threats such as email phishing scams is well worth every minute. Just sending a memo might not be enough. Educate yourself and your staff on being diligent. Inform them of the best ways to handle a suspicious email.

Consider these suspicious email subjects or topics:

  • Be wary of emails that ask for login credentials
  • Emails that threaten to suspend an account or services without a response
  • Messages informing you of a virus (not coming from your in-house anti-virus)
  • Invitations to click to solve any of the above issues.

Click here to read about how Spire manages backs ups.

The truth is that even a privately hosted solution with the best anti-virus in the world and religious backup procedures can experience a ransomware attack. Being aware, being vigilant and having a recovery plan is the best thing you can do to ensure your business can survive such an event should it occur.

For more information on how Spire handles backups and data security in our hosting and cloud products contact us today.

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