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Virtualizing & Outsourcing Operations


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#11 garfield

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Posted 29 April 2012 - 09:23 AM

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Does the windmill represent the DCI castle? Or is it DanielRay and that's you on the horse?

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#12 SkyRyder_FMM

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 05:52 PM

In another topic, I brought up a point about opportunities for contracting, outsourcing and virtualizing many aspects of running a drum corps which could help to reduce overhead and improve efficiencies. Sort of pointless if I don't provide more details, so, here goes:


Accounting & Administration

There are some great and inexpensive account tools out there now that are much better than things like Quickbooks and offer much greater flexibility. Xero is one that really stands out and is perfect for running an activity like drum corps.

Xero can separate various roles from bookkeeping to reconciliation, generating reports for filing, etc. All of this can be performed securely and remotely by various individuals. Instead of hiring a local accountant, it is now possible to have a specialist that is able to work remotely via Xero, for example the accountants at LucidBooks for a very low monthly fee ($150/mo).

In addition, there are many add-ons that allow the ability to automatically integrate with bank accounts, paypal, Magento, etc. so that information is automatically entered into the accounting system without need for costly human input. Xero also integrates with Vend, a perfect POS system for managing on location sales.

With Shoeboxed, it is possible to take physical paper receipts and turn them into proper expense entries in Xero by either dropping them in a special envelope in the post, or by scanning or taking a photo from iphone app and uploading them. Xero also integrates with CRM solutions like Capsule, which can also automatically import customer histories from both Magento and Vend POS, as well as web forms, eliminating the need to manually enter records into accounting or CRM systems.

Everything mentioned above can be done for under $150/mo, add in accounting services and you're at $300/mo... 10 times less than many orgs are currently spending to get the same result.

-----------------------------


It is interesting that you criticize Quickbooks, but then mention other vendors that do basically the same thing that Quickbooks can do - at a substantially higher cost. The price shown above is about 6 times what it costs to use Quickbooks. The flexibility you mention is not as flexible as you might think. There is substaintial set-up time involved, and changes, new products/services, revenue/expense items all require a lot of set-up that does not always work and requires adjustments on the back-end anyway. Other than a couple of organization that are operating much more than a World Class drum corps, there really isn't much need for anything more than a tool like Quickbooks.
Tim Kviz

#13 rkfdPRphan

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 06:20 PM

One BIG assumption here.
That there is an off season for all corps.
I know for a fact that the corps I volunteer with has about 1 1/2 to 2 months off and the merchandising goes on 24/7 year around. During the 'time off' planning starts for the next season.
In reality....not much off time.

I work with contractors and I am a contractor in the 'real world'.
Oversight and who has the final word is a big problem with contracting stuff out.
If the outsourcing is software, it would be hard on most corps budgets to come up with the initial cost of starting with the software services, buying the technology to use/access the software and for many they have no home corps office to work from. And then there is the maintenance. Another round of keeping up with the technology you are using - who does that, who pays for it and who decides when it is time to update or change services.

.....and keeping the corps up-to-date while on tour or even during tryouts and camps could be another nightmare.

Not that this stuff wouldn't work, its just the amount of time and effort to migrate these changes into a current system, revise the staff and assign new duties AND to decide exactly when to stop the corps operations and insert this new system.

IMO, for a smaller corps, that probably does shut down completely for several months, this could probably be utilized more quickly & easily, but for the larger corps its pretty much a 12 month yearly cycle of tryouts, camps, travel/compete, come home for repairs and plan for the next season. Not much time off to figure out, test and impliment a big change in the current system. With the fast changing world of Internet, wireless communications, hardware and software, it might become a huge burden for corps that are struggling for every dollar they can beg.

#14 danielray

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 05:25 AM

It is interesting that you criticize Quickbooks, but then mention other vendors that do basically the same thing that Quickbooks can do - at a substantially higher cost. The price shown above is about 6 times what it costs to use Quickbooks. The flexibility you mention is not as flexible as you might think. There is substaintial set-up time involved, and changes, new products/services, revenue/expense items all require a lot of set-up that does not always work and requires adjustments on the back-end anyway. Other than a couple of organization that are operating much more than a World Class drum corps, there really isn't much need for anything more than a tool like Quickbooks.


Dig a little bit deeper.... you'll see Xero is very different than Quickbooks in a number of ways, particularly integration with other services.

Quickbooks is $12.95 a month, but is an island.

Xero is $29.95 a month, but the extra amount you pay each month for the ability to integrate with a number of other services is far more than $17. The money you save with integration with CRM and expense reporting solutions alone is worth ten times this. I used to use Quickbooks. It was more expensive because of duplicative efforts.

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#15 SkyRyder_FMM

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 08:54 AM

Dig a little bit deeper.... you'll see Xero is very different than Quickbooks in a number of ways, particularly integration with other services.

Quickbooks is $12.95 a month, but is an island.

Xero is $29.95 a month, but the extra amount you pay each month for the ability to integrate with a number of other services is far more than $17. The money you save with integration with CRM and expense reporting solutions alone is worth ten times this. I used to use Quickbooks. It was more expensive because of duplicative efforts.

"You do not like them.
SO you say.
Try them! Try them!
And you may.
Try them and you may I say."


thanks Daniel, but I have. Quickbooks has the ability to integreat with everything needed without going overboard like you can with some of the other services you referenced. It's too much software and functionality compared to the needs of the organization. You have focues quite a bit on expense reporting in your posts here. Psst - that's not really a big deal if all the purchasing is done centrally so that best pricing, discounts, etc. are maximized.

Edited by SkyRyder_FMM, 02 May 2012 - 08:54 AM.

Tim Kviz

#16 danielray

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 09:38 AM

thanks Daniel, but I have. Quickbooks has the ability to integreat with everything needed without going overboard like you can with some of the other services you referenced. It's too much software and functionality compared to the needs of the organization. You have focues quite a bit on expense reporting in your posts here. Psst - that's not really a big deal if all the purchasing is done centrally so that best pricing, discounts, etc. are maximized.


Again, it really depends on how heavy you are getting into CRM and expense reporting (let me tell you... this IS a big task on tour... keeping track of all receipts.... entering into the system... categorizing them).

Think of it this way...

With Xero + Capsule + Magento + Vend.... they all integrate into essentially a single system for accounting, CRM, ecommerce and POS. There is a single record, entered once for each individual user and transaction.... it happens automatically.

With Shoeboxed, you just take all the receipts for purchases each week, dump in a blue envelope and drop in the post. It magically appears entered into the accounting system.. fully categorized.

With corps becoming more and more focused on the activities that generate revenue in order to survive... CRM, ecommerce and POS is becoming essential. Anything that improves this should be considered. As a result, accounting solutions should be considered for how well they participate in an ecosystem, rather than how well the perform a particular task.

Maybe this might come down to philosophical differences, habits, comfort... but... I don't see corps being able to really afford to not be considering these systems (CRM, POS, etc.) and making aggressive efforts to use them. They are cheap enough now and easy enough to use, there is little compelling reason (other than habit) not to do so.

As a side note... there is so much of a gap between Quickbooks and Xero that it will either be that Intuit buys them or simply adopts their approach. They already tried to buy them once... but offer wasn't high enough.

#17 danielray

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 10:03 AM

One thing I forgot to add to the list...

Chargify

Perfect service for processing recurring payments and subscriptions.

#18 SkyRyder_FMM

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:27 PM

Again, it really depends on how heavy you are getting into CRM and expense reporting (let me tell you... this IS a big task on tour... keeping track of all receipts.... entering into the system... categorizing them).

Think of it this way...

With Xero + Capsule + Magento + Vend.... they all integrate into essentially a single system for accounting, CRM, ecommerce and POS. There is a single record, entered once for each individual user and transaction.... it happens automatically.

With Shoeboxed, you just take all the receipts for purchases each week, dump in a blue envelope and drop in the post. It magically appears entered into the accounting system.. fully categorized.

With corps becoming more and more focused on the activities that generate revenue in order to survive... CRM, ecommerce and POS is becoming essential. Anything that improves this should be considered. As a result, accounting solutions should be considered for how well they participate in an ecosystem, rather than how well the perform a particular task.

Maybe this might come down to philosophical differences, habits, comfort... but... I don't see corps being able to really afford to not be considering these systems (CRM, POS, etc.) and making aggressive efforts to use them. They are cheap enough now and easy enough to use, there is little compelling reason (other than habit) not to do so.

As a side note... there is so much of a gap between Quickbooks and Xero that it will either be that Intuit buys them or simply adopts their approach. They already tried to buy them once... but offer wasn't high enough.


I know what you are talking about, as I current do a lot of this. Again, the set-up for all the systems you referenced is substantial, and hte benefits don;t justify the costs. They are not as seemless as you imply. CRM is a dicey topic, as it expands into so many aspects of a corps operations that it is virutually impossible to find a single system that will do everything a corps needs (unless you buy a very sophisticated system and spend a lot of time and money on customization - not worth it). Good ideas, but as you recommended earlier, dig deeper - it's not that simple, or cheap (and the cost benefiut equation is not overcome in most cases).
Tim Kviz

#19 danielray

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 12:59 PM

I know what you are talking about, as I current do a lot of this. Again, the set-up for all the systems you referenced is substantial, and hte benefits don;t justify the costs. They are not as seemless as you imply. CRM is a dicey topic, as it expands into so many aspects of a corps operations that it is virutually impossible to find a single system that will do everything a corps needs (unless you buy a very sophisticated system and spend a lot of time and money on customization - not worth it). Good ideas, but as you recommended earlier, dig deeper - it's not that simple, or cheap (and the cost benefiut equation is not overcome in most cases).


I have a company using all those systems described. Setup for ALL of those... ALL... was about 60-90 minutes. If it takes someone longer to do that, then they aren't the one that should be doing it.

Anyway, not getting religious about anything... just some thoughts... and people can take it for whatever it is worth.

On the topic of CRM... this really shouldn't include stuff with members, but customer that are purchasing things... tickets, t-shirts, donations, whatever. For kids it should be a different system.

#20 rkfdPRphan

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Posted 02 May 2012 - 01:08 PM

I have a company using all those systems described. Setup for ALL of those... ALL... was about 60-90 minutes. If it takes someone longer to do that, then they aren't the one that should be doing it.

Anyway, not getting religious about anything... just some thoughts... and people can take it for whatever it is worth.

On the topic of CRM... this really shouldn't include stuff with members, but customer that are purchasing things... tickets, t-shirts, donations, whatever. For kids it should be a different system.


Are we forgetting that whoever this person is - they probably won't be with the corps forever? If it is a volunteer, which chances are it would be, they might stay a few seasons. If a staff member, and there you will be adding to staff and cost, how long will they stay?

I work with software, hardware and training all day. As soon as someone is trained they move on......or in this case get bored and quit, or their child ages out, or it gets too overwhelming to continue.

This would work best with a brand new corps, where staff can be assigned and trained right away. Inserting this into an efficiently running corps is asking for problems!




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