Clearwater Systems recently spent time researching and choosing a new enterprise resource planning solution, or more commonly known as an ERP software system, to integrate and manage critical business processes, such as finance, manufacturing, sales retail, supply chain, human resources and operations.
For water treatment dealers, like Clearwater Systems, there may be even more components. With various processes including equipment sales, retail point of sale, field service, water delivery, routes, rentals and multiple locations, it was critical for Clearwater to find an ERP system that would cover all aspects of the organization’s needs and provide an easy transition from their current system to the next. In an effort to standardize all business processes across all of its sites, Clearwater Systems needed a centralized database where data collection could occur in real time. In a centralized system, data from various departments and locations could be easily accessed and provide an accurate measure of productivity and profitability.
Odoo is a software suite that enables businesses to run and manage their operations more efficiently. Their software is open source and hosted in the cloud, which has provided cost-benefit due to the lower capital cost for a cloud-hosted solution and the minimized license fees associated with an open source program. After learning that its current ERP system was being discontinued, Clearwater Systems researched a new ERP system that was evaluated around five aspects:
- Integrated system for all facets of the business;
- Web application that can run on a variety of desktop and mobile operating systems;
- Open source software that can be modified and customized to their specific needs;
- Implementation that could be done quickly; and
- Implementation and ongoing maintenance costs.
Four ERP systems were evaluated for change and only one met all requirements with high marks. The Odoo ERP platform was selected because it met all of these requirements and even with the additional costs associated with customizing code for specific business processes, it was still the most affordable of the four options considered.
The ERP solution
Odoo is a versatile and customizable ERP platform that enables both narrowly focused and highly diverse businesses to manage their critical processes more efficiently. Additionally, the ERP platform is modular, open-source, and cloud-hosted, allowing businesses to better integrate and manage their multi-faceted businesses.
There are currently thirty-seven core Odoo modules, each of which enables the management of a critical business process. This allows users to choose the modules that best suit their business needs. Additionally, a community of third-party developers has created hundreds of additional modules, allowing for versatility. By accessing a single database, each of the modules is integrated with the others, reducing the redundancy of maintaining multiple software platforms for various business processes.
As open source software, users have full access to the source code, allowing customization of any features or functionality. Additionally, it is possible to create custom modules to cover even the most unique business processes.
Requiring only a web connection, Odoo is server-based software, allowing 24/7/365 access from any location or device. Companies are free to deploy Odoo on their SPE server or use Odoo.sh, Odoo’s own hosted SasS (software as a service) solution.
Clearwater Systems had five months to transition from one ERP system to another. They had a limited time to send out RFPs. With multiple US locations and retail and service centers as their core business, they needed a platform that would fully integrate their accounting, payroll, facilities, deliveries, services, inventory , their retail sales, rentals, marketing, leads, and emails. When selecting Odoo, Clearwater Systems researched ComstarUnited Statesa New Jersey-based Odoo partner with programmers and a solid understanding of the software, to help them with the customizations needed to meet the size of their business.
ComstarUSA and Clearwater spent the first month planning a roadmap of business processes that had been handled by multiple software platforms. Accounting, CRM and ERP workflows were managed in three different programs. As the ERP system was abandoned, the first choice was to decide whether the new system would only replace the old system in workflows or whether all functions including accounting, CRM and ERP would be moved to the Odoo platform. . Based on the advantage of using a fully integrated system, the decision was made to migrate all systems to Odoo.
After spending a month planning, two months were used to customize the program elements. ComstarUSA, while being one of the less expensive companies, had also accommodated their working hours to make themselves readily available to the Clearwater Systems team in the event of any issues or coding errors. ComstarUSA was able to help quickly update multiple platforms within Odoo, making the transition as efficient and smooth as possible.
Several modules required adjustments compared to the basic program. Clearwater identified process needs and ComstarUSA made those scheduling adjustments. A unique solution concerned the planning process. The Odoo system has a built-in scheduling feature; however, this basic function required a specific person to be scheduled. For scheduling a sales call, this default function worked. When scheduling a service call, the appointment was scheduled for a specific day, while the decision of which service technician was going to perform the call was not made until the day before. call. Personalization allowed both the scheduling of a sales call to a specific salesperson as well as the scheduling of a service call to a group, which could then be assigned to an individual.
In addition to scheduling customization, Clearwater Systems wanted additional features, such as the ability to run and track email campaigns from the system. Within the standard Odoo framework, Clearwater Systems quickly reached the daily limit of 200 emails per day supported by the Odoo mail server. This issue has been solved through Odoo’s open source flexibility by adding a separate messaging engine seamlessly to Odoo’s backend, thus solving the messaging volume limitation.
Clearwater Systems also encountered other issues such as merging data, creating a sales form that collects all relevant information for door-to-door sales, including site photos, and setting up their Loyalty program. In each case, Odoo’s open source flexibility allowed Clearwater Systems either to find a third-party application already built to solve the problem, or to have ComstarUSA modify the open source code to meet the organization’s specific needs.
The last two months of the transition schedule were used for data migration and training. With such a limited implementation time, Clearwater Systems was unable to fully test the platform prior to launch, resulting in programming issues that required individual attention as development progressed. they were happening. With the support of ComstarUSA, these bugs and training needs were resolved on a day-to-day basis until the organization had full confidence in the operation of the new system. Together, Clearwater and ComstarUSA went from three independent platforms for accounting, CRM and ERP to one integrated system in just over five months.
Odoo provided Clearwater Systems with the efficiency of having software that manages all of the company’s business processes under one roof. The dashboard feature provides enhanced analysis and reporting functions. Reports that previously had to be pulled from different sources are now generated in minutes. There is no concern about inaccuracies in data transfer between systems, since the data is now compiled and stored in one system. The ComstarUSA team helped implement a centralized program where lead setup, service and delivery scheduling, inventory management, accounting, payroll, marketing, and reporting can be housed.
Beyond these applications in Odoo, Clearwater Systems can continue to customize and develop this platform as its business continues to grow. One aspect that will be integrated over the coming year is the e-commerce module which is directly linked to precise inventory and warehouse locations, which will streamline online product sales to their customers through a portal. private customer. Odoo presented itself as both modern and modular, making it a viable platform to accommodate Clearwater Systems’ continued growth.