What does a system cost?

Take a walk around your office, paying close attention to the information displayed on any monitors you pass. What percentage of your employees are working in Microsoft Excel at any point during the day? (Pay no attention to those screens opened to Facebook or Instagram.) Is it more than 50%?


Microsoft Excel is a marvelous solution. Who doesn’t love those stoplight icons you can use for conditional formatting your important data?

But any time spent manipulating data in Excel is evidence of a failure in your core application.  If you are exporting information from your Point of Sale solution to Excel, adjusting the data with a couple of “if” statements or manual changes (does your accountant have to multiply dollar amounts by negative 1 to account for returns in your sales totals?), loading in cost of wine sold since your system doesn’t store it, creating pivot tables 5 different ways to reconcile to your other systems, and then finally rekeying data into your accounting system, you are spending valuable time and money to get the information you need. Isn’t that why we have automated systems? Remember the promise of an “Information Superhighway” that was to be the Internet? What we have in the wine industry is a fleet of row boats (many without oars) that are supposed to transport us on this highway.


For many wineries, automation has succeeded mainly in generating more bad data, faster. Individual software vendors have succeeded in creating numerous roadblocks that require accounting data to take myriad detours on its way to financial statements. Hence the need for massive data manipulation, integration, cleanup and reconcilation in Excel spreadsheets. (Spreadsheets which by the way, are stored all over the place, in unsecured folders on individual laptops.) These vendors offer solutions to one or the other problems faced in one or another facet of the wine industry but resort to shrugs and finger pointing when it comes to working together with other critical solutions.


When winery staff (from accounting to sales teams and marketing) resort to spreadsheet manipulation to get the information they need, everyone pays.  Accountants can’t get financial statements distributed in advance of critical meetings. Owners can’t get timely information to make good decisions. Salespeople create their own tracking systems and spend more time number crunching and less time selling (and of course when it’s time for commission checks their numbers are totally different from the ones in accounting.) Shipping teams are running from one location to another trying to find wine needed to fulfill orders.


At the end of the day, the biggest cost of poorly integrated, inefficient systems is lost customers.  Never mind the cost of high employee turnover, excessive overtime, and poor morale, just consider the impact of internal inefficiency on the customer experience. What happens when you run out of estate wine for your best Wine Club member?  What is the cost of inaccurate shipments to your preferred wholesale partner?  How much is it worth to avoid spending days correcting double charged credit cards, accounting for return sales, or searching for lost invoices?


It’s time to give your data access to the fast lane.  Your winery accounting software should serve as the hub for an integrated network of solutions that all work together to support your business. Information should flow freely while being maintained and monitored in your core accounting application. You should be able to access key information from your mobile phone, make timely and accurate decisions, and keep salespeople apprised of their sales results as they happen. We know you are going to keep using Excel, but it should be tightly integrated into your accounting system (built on a Microsoft Dynamics engine), not operating inspite of it.