I’ve been reading some materials lately where various software vendors in the vacation rental software space are identifying themselves as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. Coming from a background in Customer Relationship Management software, which is typically a module of an ERP system, I wondered about using ERP in the context of vacation rental management.
Here’s the definition of ERP from Wikipedia:
“Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a business management software—usually a suite of integrated applications—that a company can use to collect, store, manage and interpret data from many business activities, including:
- Product planning, cost
- Manufacturing or service delivery
- Marketing and sales
- Inventory management
- Shipping and payment
ERP provides an integrated view of core business processes, often in real-time, using common databases maintained by a database management system.”
ERP has evolved, usually through analysis by Gartner Publications’ review of corporate IT expenditures. With the advent of cloud based software programs, the current ERP model not only focuses on back office operations such as accounting and CRM, but there are integrations with “outside” partners and vendors that facilitate more of the supply chain management.
Another crucial component of ERP software solutions is that software supplier generally will include a system of best practices or a perspective on how a corporation is run most efficiently. This means that most of these software solutions are delivered “as is” and do not offer a pathway for customization.
Data migration when deploying ERP software is a critical part of the process and can delay implementation since this activity usually comes towards the end of implementation and the there is a tendency to not build enough planning for a successful migration into the timeline.
Similarities between ERP and Vacation Rental Management Software Solutions
There are similarities between ERP and VRM software solutions, included increased efficiency in operations, the ability for management insights with improved data mining of various aspects of the business and opportunities for increased collaboration between different departments and external partners and vendors. Workflow management is often a beneficial aspect of both systems. Some of the downside of ERP systems may also be shared by some VRM software including time and expense of implementing software which may detract from other business critical projects. Customization, as mentioned above is sometimes not an option or difficult to implement in the context of the existing best practices. Finally, implementing ERP and VRM software may be the catalyst for organizational change which can be an opportunity for growth and efficiency or a complete distraction from the core business is not planned properly.
The similarities above notwithstanding, VRM software providers should not identify themselves as being in the ERP space. While both solutions seek to provide value to their customers, Vacation Rental Management companies have very specific needs that are not part of a typical ERP solution. For example, VRMs deal with two customers who have different needs. Taking care of your guests is very different than making sure that your owners are satisfied. Your VRM technology partner should be focused primarily on making sure that both types of customers are satisfied.
This is not to be confused with enterprise ready software solutions in the vacation rental industry. There are several VRM software solutions that are enterprise ready. These enterprise ready solutions meet the following criteria:
- Scalable—the system should be able to handle more than one database
- Ability to be configured and/or customized for business specific needs
- Integrated Trust Accounting Systems
- Full CRM and Lead Management
- Ability to handle Revenue Management from within the software
- Open system that facilitates integrations with best of breed partners
- Online access for guests, owners, vendors and referral agents
- Ability to handle concierge services from within the system
- Documented implementation methodology
- Ability to data port successfully
- Ongoing support
- Continuous development and new functionality offerings
If 2015 is a time of transition for you, this should be a consideration. Here’s an interesting fact in this industry. In any given year, vacation rental software companies can handle up to 60 successful migrations. That means that you have to decide whether to be proactive or reactive. Where do you want to be in 2016? Relying on software that is long past its technology expiration date or positioning yourself for the future with a software that is enterprise ready. 2015 is the year for tough questions and positioning.
If you are interested in having a conversation with Barefoot about where we stand with the above bullet list, please reach out to email@example.com or to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to have the opportunity to show you how our solution is enterprise ready.