We have an ERP – Why do we need MainStem?
It’s a question we hear a lot. More and more cannabis companies are maturing the way they manage their businesses and are looking for tools to help them do it efficiently. In many cases, that means implementing an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) solution to help them manage their day-to-day activities by connecting procurement, finance, manufacturing, and supply chain workflows.
We know ERPs are great, but they can also be expensive to implement and cumbersome to adopt. This is where we fit in. MainStem doesn’t replace your ERP. Quite the opposite – our Procurement Platform was built to enhance and augment your ERP’s capabilities and make your life way easier.
In order to better show you how MainStem complements your ERP, we need to first understand the pitfalls and complexities of a traditional ERP solution.
What does an ERP ACTUALLY do?
ERPs seem to be the tech buzzword of the day in the cannabis industry. It is understandable. As SSOs and MSOs grow in both size and complexity, they need robust tech solutions to help them manage their business. From SAP to Dynamics 365, we are seeing an increasing number of operators embrace the sophistication of ERP solutions. But how does it really work? Essentially an ERP collects the business-critical data across an organization and centralizes it, along with all the activities and information related to purchasing, sales, inventory, invoices, and material outputs, in a single place. This enables leadership to get a full picture of what is going on across their business, allowing them to use this data to analyze and measure the health of their business and gain operational efficiencies.
Sounds great – right? It is. But just like anything, there is always a catch. Whether you are in the cannabis industry or in a traditional production-based or distribution-based business, there Is no “silver bullet” solution when it comes to easily implementing an ERP solution as the foundation to your business practices.
So what is the catch with an ERP?
Cost. Plainly put ERPs are massively expensive. Between the license fee, implementation support and the subscription itself, you are easily looking at a 6-figure investment for your cannabis operation and the more people you have in your organization using the ERP, the more complicated and expensive it gets.
- Core software license + User licenses. An ERP is not a one-and-done cost to your business. After you pay the core software license, user licenses can range from $50-$500 PER USER /PER MONTH. This usually means organizations must restrict the number of licensed users, limiting the actual full-organization functionality and visibility you wanted. If you are looking to truly understand your business by consolidating all your processes and data into a single platform, excluding employees from using the tool uniformly means you lose out on many of the promised efficiencies and transparency. And that visibility is probably what lead you to buy the ERP in the first place.
- Customized Integration and Implementation. Every business is different, so therefore no ERP is totally aligned out of the box with your specific operational needs. To maximize your investment and reap the benefits of this strategic software purchase, you are likely going to need to bring in a 3rd party contractor to help you build out your ERP to the unique specifications of your business. This service will allow you to customize the workflows of the ERP to your needs, and ensure a full integration with your other systems, like your seed-to-sale, inventory management system, accounts payable solution, and POS. Depending on your business size and scope of the implementation, the cost to hire these types of implementation specialists can easily add tens of thousands to the overall costs of your ERP, bumping that total bill up even more.
- The unexpected costs of nickel and diming. ERPs are sophisticated, powerful, and complex systems. And as a result, they can be inflexible in their configuration. Even the smallest modification to the interface or the workflows generally requires more time from your internal team or another engagement with your 3rd party consultant, resulting in additional time and cost. During the first year of use, these kinds of costs can pop up unexpectedly as your team is still working through the kinks of customization and integration. It is hard to budget or plan for these occurrences, yet they can rob you of valuable time and lost efficiencies – and isn’t that why you got an ERP in the first place?
Deployment. Like anything in the cannabis industry, you probably needed the functionality of an ERP yesterday… but once you make the decision, you are looking at anywhere from 18-24 months to get it up and running. On average, implementation takes 30% longer than the original scope, and more than half the companies experience significant operational disruption during the deployment. These extended timelines and on-going delays in usage mean your team’s productivity is diverted by the ongoing customizations and training.
Once the system is implemented, the single most important success factors for any ERP roll-out are workflows and adoption. If the ERP’s workflows fail to facilitate your team’s efficiency or the interface is confusing, incremental costs and time might be required to resolve the issues. Ensuring your team is comfortable and proficient on the system takes time, since most ERPs offer complex and often less-than-friendly user experiences.
But you need an ERP… so how do you navigate all this expensive complexity. When your main focus is growing and selling cannabis, the time and effort to implement these systems can be overwhelming and frustrating. MainStem doesn’t replace your ERP, but we work alongside it, alleviating many of these issues listed above, and actually help you recognize the full potential of the solution you have poured blood, sweat and tears into deploying.
Why Cannabis ERPs need MainStem for successful deployment and adoption
MainStem SUPERCHARGES Your ERP. Built to complement your ERP instead of competing with it, MainStem becomes the “connective tissue” between your ERP and all your other systems, augmenting and enhancing your existing software investment while eliminating the annoying costs and time-suck we discussed above. And the best part is- we give you all of this at a FRACTION of the cost of what you would pay to have your full organization using that ERP.
Let us explain how.
While ERPs can handle most of the processes and workflows of your business, they still don’t always play nice with your seed-to-sale, track-and-trace, and your cannabis-specific POS systems. With the complexity of state-by-state compliance issues, you likely have a multi-entity banking structure, and may be using a variety of different accounting solutions across your footprint. These are just a handful of the unique complexities of the cannabis industry that add to the ERP implementation challenges. Remember, these sophisticated systems were built for traditional industries, and many have shied away from working in and developing for cannabis without the guarantee of federal legalization.
This is where MainStem gets really cool.
Simplifying your tools: We know cannabis, and we were built for cannabis. We were also built to integrate with ERP, accounting, and seed-to-sale solutions. Remember when we said we were the “connective” tissue? This is what we meant. By integrating your ERP and other software into MainStem though our open API, we connect all your systems together, simplifying your tech stack (Tech stack refers to all the different software and tech tools you are using to run your business). We play nice with everyone, so we can help eliminate the disconnect between your cannabis software, business-critical tools, and your ERP. The great part is MainStem is easy to use and easy to deploy. Our configurations are flexible and require no code customizations. We support workflows across all your entities, locations, and departments - without compromising your ERP or requiring expensive customizations.
Saving you money. This might be the best part. We have a flat-fee subscription structure. That means you can add as many users and as many locations as you need – all for a single subscription fee. Crazy right? You might ask why we are priced this way. It’s simple - because MainStem exists to support cannabis operators, and we understand the volatile growth and expansion of the industry, so we would never penalize you for being successful and adding staff and facilities. What kind of cannabis partner would we be if we kept charging you more money every time your business grew? We are here to celebrate your successes, not punish you for them!
But let’s break down what our flat-fee pricing structure actually means for YOU.
Because we integrate with your ERP, you can access all the critical procurement, manufacturing and financial tasks through our interface and have it connected back into the ERP. So, you no longer have to pay to individually license all your employees on the ERP. Just give those coveted licenses to a select few and let the rest of your team reap the benefits of the ERP functionality through the MainStem interface (which, spoiler alert, is a lot more user-friendly those within the ERP).
Ease of Deployment. Get ready to be further amazed - we can get your team up and running on the MainStem core functionality in a matter of minutes, and if you do need to customize organizational workflows (because we know no two cannabis operations are alike) our team of CannaTech experts can get that implemented for you in as little as 30 days. That probably sounds more appealing than that scary 18-24 month time frame you had to endure with your ERP.
Because user adoption is critical to a software’s success, we want to make sure your staff is supported every step of the way. To make life easier, we have created an easy-to-use solution that our users LOVE which enables and enhances the functionality of your ERP. And along with that great user experience, we also have a whole team of cannabis experts here to integrate, onboard and support your team as they navigate this journey to efficiency and cost-savings. We like to think our team is more fun too, but that you will have to find out for yourselves.
So now you know – MainStem doesn’t replace or compete with your ERP – it enhances and augments its functionality, and helps you maximize the investment you made. And, as an added bonus, your employees will actually like working in the MainStem Procurement Platform. As that old saying goes… Happy Employees, Happy Life.
To find out more about how MainStem can help your business thrive, book a discovery call today.