4 factors to choosing a high-performing software implementation expert

Cin7 Experts are specialized consultants who are vetted by CIn7 and are committed to providing resources to help brands, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers with a wide range of business needs. Experts can handle anything from data migration, technical training, ecommerce, process development and automation, and financial planning.

Since the Cin7 Expert directory went live, UK software integration company Bluehub has zoomed to the top of the rankings, spurred on by five-star reviews from enthused customers. We asked them how they ended up as the top-reviewed Cin7 Expert, and what customers should look out for when choosing a software implementation partner to help them on their inventory management software journey.

Here’s what they told us:

  • Take the time to understand where your customers are at
  • Specialize in top inventory management apps
  • The best experts hire from industry
  • Top experts build custom integrations and make use of APIs

Bluehub began as a Xero ecosystem consultancy and custom software development house, helping customers identify which apps would be right for their business, setting up those apps, and then providing ongoing support. But after a couple of years, they realized that the customers who needed the most help were almost always product-based businesses looking for an inventory solution — so they pivoted hard into that space.

“Over the last six years, we’ve been solely focused on helping product-based businesses,” says Bluehub founder Guy Earnshaw. “We help customers either build on a foundation of an existing cloud system — like Xero or QuickBooks — or we help people who are on legacy, server-based systems take that first step into the cloud with online accounting, plus one of the inventory apps.”

#1 Top Experts take the time to understand where customers are in their journey

Most of Bluehub’s clients fall into one of two categories. The first is established businesses that are looking to move online — to migrate from an existing ERP, or an offline inventory management solution (such as Sage, or even spreadsheets.) Others are those who have already begun their cloud journey, with accounting software like Xero or QuickBooks Online. Bluehub says it’s vital for Experts to understand where a customer is on their journey, what their current level of expertise is, and where they want to go.

“All the clients that we speak to have already started their own journey of looking at software,” Guy says. “So they’re coming to this with some level of education of what they want to do, the sort of problems they’re trying to fix and what their options might be in this space. So the way we describe ourselves to those people is that we are software consultants and developers who specialize in product based businesses going through this transition.”

From a platform of mutual understanding, Bluehub is well placed to help their clients transform their businesses for the better.

“We help with system selection and implementation, which includes everything like training, data migration, and a bit of support,” Guy says. “And then we have ongoing relationships with our clients where we provide basic user support to big integrations, too. So we’re an end-to-end service for businesses just like theirs looking to make exactly this transition.”

#2 The most effective Experts focus on just one or two inventory apps

Early in their journey, Bluehub supported all the inventory software solutions they could. But now they do most of their inventory management consulting work with just two apps: Cin7 and DEAR Systems. Why is that? Zeroing in on just a couple of best-of-breed apps means you can provide better services to customers, faster. There’s less overhead, and fewer learning requirements. You can just get on with the job, confident in the knowledge that your clients are on the best possible system for their needs.

“A big part of that shift is we’re working with more and more complex and larger businesses. From an accounting and a production perspective, DEAR is really quite advanced for products in this range,” Guy says.

Bluehub reckons that the partnership with DEAR is what helps drive great outcomes with their clients.

“[Partnership] gives us an incredible product that we get to sell to our clients and build on that.
Guy says. “And your service can only be as good as the system that you are implementing. Thankfully DEAR gives us a whole heap of tools in our hands that satisfy our clients — we have so many ‘wow’ moments when we’re giving demos or even when we’re working with clients during consultancy.”

#3 The best Experts hire staff from industry

All over the accounting, bookkeeping, software-coaching and implementation world, Experts are finding that one of the best ways to support customers in a particular industry is to hire from that industry. Hiring from industry confers a huge advantage for Experts — it builds credibility amongst their customer base, and enables them to either double down on support for a particular niche, or easily expand to related industries.

“In recent years we’ve hired more people that actually worked in our client’s industries,” Guy says. “We’re taking people out of the manufacturing sector, out of the wholesale and distribution sectors, who’ve worked in industry for over a decade.”

Usually, the industry professionals Bluehub has been hiring have experience in working with large, bespoke ERP implementations. This experience has proved invaluable, as they’re now able to help companies implement a much more nimble and yet highly extensible and inexpensive ERP, in the form of DEAR Systems.

“We’ve brought them into our team to help our clients transition their processes and really fully adapt to the system,” Guy says.

#4 High-performing Experts don’t implement unwieldy ERPs. Instead, they build bespoke integrations and make use of APIs

Top software implementation experts know that the best way to help small and medium businesses thrive is to get them online as soon as possible. For companies that ship physical products, inventory management software is a must-have. But even for SMEs with specialist requirements, they don’t recommend high-maintenance, expensive legacy ERPs.

Instead, they say to get on software like Cin7 or DEAR Systems, as a good Expert partner will be able to make use of APIs to build all the bespoke integrations and app bridges they could ever need.

Bluehub began as a software development house first and foremost, and that legacy comes to the fore when a customer needs something custom-built.

“We still have development at our core, and we build a lot of integrations — often with third party logistics (3PL) companies, but also with eCommerce websites, and a few custom apps for people who have unique requirements,” Guy says.

When a Bluehub client gets set up on DEAR, they end up with a fully-customized system, purpose-built for them out of off-the-shelf components. This app stack often beats the capability of a legacy ERP, at a fraction of the cost.

About Bluehub

Bluehub is a top-ranking software implementation company and DEAR Expert partner. They  provide innovative system integrations and solutions that support their client’s businesses operations and growth. From initial discovery into client needs, to set-up, training and roll-out, Bluehub provides a fully managed service from start to finish. 

About Cin7 Experts

Cin7 Experts experienced with DEAR are an essential part of the Cin7 inventory and order management community. No matter what kind of product business you’re running, where you’re located, or what you’re trying to achieve, there’s a Cin7 Expert on DEAR who can help you achieve your ambition while saving your money and time. 

AMF Magnetics

To most people, magnets are just what you use to pin your child’s latest artistic effort to the fridge. But there’s a lot more to these mysterious objects. Magnets, it turns out, make the world go round. They are integral everywhere, in pretty much every electronic device that exists, from headphones to computers to MRI machines. 

AMF Magnetics is an Australian company that specializes in selling permanent — or “rare earth” — magnets. They’re now the largest supplier in Australia, with a range of something like 1500 products” 

“It’s a very niche product, but it’s needed by all segments of society in one facet or another,” says Mark Kapo, owner of AMF. “ We’re very fortunate that we’re in this space.” 

Mark wasn’t always in the magnet market. Before AMF, he owned restaurants. But after ten years in the hospitality industry, he wanted to try working on something less intensive. “We wanted a business that didn’t operate on the weekend, and was closed over the Christmas break.” Mark says. This, he reckons, made the rare-earth magnet business particularly attractive. 

AMF was an established business that had been running since the early 1980s, when Mark bought it in 2006. Back then, it was very much an “analog outfit,” as Mark puts it. 

“I’m from the analog era. I’m old school. But I decided that we had to push the online side of things — we were running blind. It wasn’t easy to decide what to do.” Mark’s desire for a digital transformation was complicated by the fact that the magnet business was inherently complex. AMF supplies all kinds of customers — from enormous B2B orders of hundreds of thousands of items, to specialist medical equipment with extremely high quality requirements and tight deadlines, to casual D2C customers who just want some magnets to play with. On the supply side, there are multiple suppliers in several different locations. And the complexity grows even greater with AMF’s uncompromising approach to customer service. 

“We deal with everyone equally, and we take it pretty seriously. Being from a family that’s very hospitable, service is important to me. That’s not just a word, it’s not made up. We actually do care. If the customer’s not happy, we’re not happy, and that attitude just runs through the whole business.” 

Over seven years, Mark managed to grow the business, but he found that inefficient operational processes were holding things back. They had managed to digitize to some extent, and were working with MYOB desktop software to manage inventory and accounting — but they found it wasn’t up to the task. 

“We had MYOB, and we deal in multi-currencies, and frankly, MYOB’s management was too slow to go into the cloud and work with multi-currencies. That really held us back,” Mark says. 

“But all that said, I was very comfortable with it, and it’s pretty scary transitioning from a system that you know, to one that you don’t know how to navigate.” 

Even though he didn’t know for sure what the business needed in terms of its digital transformation, Mark knew how to find out. He made two particularly smart choices: hiring an exceptionally talented in-house marketing and IT team with modern software skills, including a new Marketing Manager (later CEO) — and working with external experts, including SMB Consultants. 

The right hire can fire up your business

As the CEO of AMF Magnetics, Catalina Rodríguez is responsible for every aspect of business’ day-to-day operations. With an impressive resume including Deloitte Colombia, Catalina says she didn’t know much about the magnet business to start with. 

“Before joining AMF I didn’t know that almost everything in this world had magnets — airpods, doors, medical devices, cars, speakers and even the superhero costumes in Marvel movies!” Catalina says.

But after sticking around a bit, Catalina learned quickly. She led a crack squad of developers, IT professionals, customer service team members, and external consultants to get AMF running as well as it possibly could, and one of the main steps she took was building a team to transition the business from MYOB to Xero. 

With Xero as the accounting system of record, things were already running more smoothly across much of the business, with one exception: inventory management. Xero, by design, is not inventory management software, and Catalina and Mark both knew that to really power up the business they’d need to couple Xero’s powerful accounting capabilities with a best-of-breed inventory management solution.

To find the right one, they turned to SMB Consultants, who recommended Cin7 after an in-depth scoping session where they took time to understand AMF’s particular business requirements. 

“AMF were using a server-based system called FileMaker before they came to us,” says Deepak Stevens, an integration expert at SMB Consultants. “Our job was to understand their needs, and recommend a platform that would set them up for the next ten years at least. It was quite clear that Cin7 would be a good fit for AMF Magnetics, because we were confident the system would be able to adapt to any specific needs they have.”

After the initial scoping session, SMB Consultants put together a proof-of-concept — Cin7 running to AMF’s specific requirements. 

“SMB advised us that Cin7 was a perfect fit for where we wanted to take the business in the future,” Mark says. “We wanted to optimize email marketing, social media, and paid advertising, and we needed our websites to work at their very best in order to do that. And we needed the inventory system live and helping us with the accounting side of things. Cin7 covered a multitude of these areas, which other systems we looked at didn’t do.” 

Working with the SMB team, Catalina and the AMF team hit on a hybrid solution. Together with another consultant out of Sydney, they integrated Cin7 with Xero, and built a custom integration between Cin7 and Shopify that suits AMFs diverse customer base and specific operational requirements. Thanks to SMB’s expert guidance, and the understanding gained through the interactive proof-of-concept, all the moving parts fit together seamlessly. 

“When we did Cin7, I was a bit scared. It was going to be a big change. But to be honest, the transition was very easy,” Catalina says. “The proof-of-concept was really good, because it helped us mitigate the risks, and showed us the impact the new platform would have for the business. It was done on a weekend, and in one or two days, we were operating.”