If you use TradeGecko – also known as QuickBooks Commerce – and you’re outside the US, you’ll be well aware it’s switching off on June 10, 2022.
Whether you’ve done anything about it yet is another story…
We spoke to two software implementation experts – one based in the UK, the other in South Africa – about how late is too late to make the change to new software, and what TG-based businesses should think about now ahead of the dreaded sunset date.
Meet the experts
Philip Oakley is managing director of Outserve, a UK cloud software house and Xero, Shopify and Unleashed partner. Outserve specialises in cloud software for e-commerce & manufacturing firms, with a focus on order processing, stock management and accounting systems.
Nic Muhl is director of The Clever Dudes, South Africa’s only TradeGecko Preferred Partners, and specialists in connecting inventory management, eCommerce and digital marketing tools.
TradeGecko is turning off on June 10, 2022. How long before this sunset date do you recommend switching to another system?
Phil: It’s not the thing you want to start thinking about the week before. I would say start planning now. You some time to move over, but there’s also that planning and thinking time.
It will also depend on the complexity of your business and on the number of departments using the system – but you may need to talk to your accounts department, bookkeepers or external accountants.
It could also affect integrations to your website; it might be integrating with your b2b commerce side, so you need to talk to your web team. You need to get buy-in and discussions going with those people.
For those reasons, for more complex businesses, we’re talking months not weeks, and that’s why we’re in this very crucial period right now. You also have to consider that there will be a lot of demand on implementation businesses the closer that we get to that sunset date.
In short: You de-risk projects like this by starting early and doing lots of planning
Nic: I would suggest a go-live date of one full month ahead, so that the client can still have TradeGecko as a reference.
Are there different approaches to switching systems to choose from? Different strategies to shifting over?
Phil: There are a couple of different approaches you can take. For some people they see the change as an opportunity to look at their processes, even basics like looking at their product codes, clearing out old data.
Whereas others are just going, ‘I need to mirror as much as possible what I had before’. Personally, I think it’s a big opportunity. What you don’t want is to look back in six months’ time and go ‘oh I wish I’d done it like this’.
Changing systems is something you don’t want to do often, so when you do it, do it properly. And I would say: take the benefits. You’re being forced into a situation with a product sunset. But see if you can come out of it better than you were before.
Talk to us about risk. What risks do you think businesses need to manage when coming off TradeGecko?
Phil: I think there’s a quite a lot of risks in coming off TradeGecko. Obviously for quite a lot of people it’s how they’re processing orders and it’s their stock and inventory management software, so the number one risk is they could be without a system.
For many people they will have been using TradeGecko for many years and be completely reliant on it, so it could be a question of ‘how am I going to get stock in and out of the door – how am I going to do sales? That’s absolutely a risk that needs to be managed.
Nic: The way data is imported into something like Unleashed is quite different to how TradeGecko is set up, so it’s important the correct process is adhered to.
But with the correct initial setup, the risks are extremely low. We’ve recently migrated a client from TradeGecko to Unleashed in five days (including BOMs).
Multiple sales channels do require a different setup and without this being setup correctly there can be issues. The biggest risk is probably loading stock on hand too early and having that sync to eCommerce before completing the setup, which basically means that items are being sold where there is no stock or that items that are in stock are not available to sell. Sub-assemblies in Unleashed is also a concept some TradeGecko clients need some assistance with.
Should you run a new system in parallel before switching off TradeGecko?
Phil: Many clients ask us this. To be honest, most small businesses don’t have the resources or people to parallel run. We tend to say, ‘can you imagine, in a single day doing everything twice?’
Everyone’s got a full day job (and a bit more) and is always playing catch up. So when people say ‘oh, we’d like to parallel run for a full month or more, we ask ‘can you really do that? Can you double your staff’s work overnight?’ And often there’s not much benefit. We tend not to do it.
Nic: I wouldn’t recommend running in parallel as far as data syncing goes. Rather, simply make the switch, but still have TradeGecko active for reference. Using something like Unleashed’s Sandbox is a must.
What do successful switch over operations have in common?
Phil: The key things that will make a project a success are:
- Planning and time. Anything that’s done rushed puts pressure on the situation.
- Sitting down and asking ‘what would success look like? What do we want out of this?’ This is very, very important.
- And when there’s ownership of project management on the client side. You always want a lead person or a new system champion.
Nic: Processes and timing. Following the same step-by-step process.
Does a changeover like this need a full-time team member within a business to take point? What’s the ideal number of people for a project like this?
Phil: For the project manager, I would say, the changeover should be made their number one priority.
Nic: We break it down into three parts: inventory, sales and accounting. Generally we work with one or two people on the client’s side and then the final step is to map the ledger accounts with the accountant, which we usually do over Zoom.
How much internal retraining is involved in a switch to something like Unleashed?
Phil: We generally find people are quite familiar with the basic operations. We do quite a low-level training to make sure they’re comfortable, but it’s not that big a change from an operating point of view. If you were onboarding with Unleashed, they can onboard you and train you internally, or you can work with partners.
Nic: Two-four hours, max.
What follow-up do you recommend, once the old software is gone and the new system is running?
Phil: I recommend that you keep reviewing the new software, investigate all the new feature releases, and aim to get as much out of the investment over time as you can. Everyone will be wanting to have a successful, problem-free changeover. But beyond that you should aim to explore further benefits from your new platform.
It’s like a house. Get the foundation right first, but when it’s solid and you’re happy with it – build on top of that. For example, have a browse around the Xero App Store and see what else you want to be doing. At the moment, at Outserve, we’re particularly interested in things like demand planning, production planning, and forecasting.
Nic: The first two-three weeks after go-live just needs monitoring and support. It’s a time for showing team members how to perform specific things that perhaps weren’t covered in training because they are rare or a process specific to that company.
What else do you see as important for TradeGecko customers to think about now?
Phil: Once you’ve decided what software you need, I would say, look at the people you want to work with. The right accountant to work with; the right support team. Find who can focus on supporting you. Because it’s about people and process, not just systems and software.
One other thing is to consider your accounting software provider. Obviously Unleashed for example works just as well with QuickBooks Online as with Xero, so you won’t need to change. But if you decided that you want to change, say from QBO to Xero, doing that when you move off TradeGecko works well, as it doesn’t add a huge amount of time.
As I always say – look to the benefits of the change.