JUST SAY NO TO ORDERBOT. Sept, 2014
After nine months of effort, I was sadly disappointed with Orderbot. We were sold on all the 'jazzy' features of Orderbot but none of it ever materialized. After I pulled the trigger and signed the contract (early DEC 2013), we had hoped that we would be up and running within their promise of 60 days. My domestic operations manager was assigned to the project, as were two of her office staff. The person assigned to us by Orderbot, unfortunately turned out to be more of a hindrance than a facilitator. Orderbot eventually fired him after five months into our project, but even after that, things still moved slowly. Up to that point, we had been able to get our item, customer, and vendor lists imported into Orderbot, but only through the arduous task of scheduling conference calls with the Orderbot principals in Canada.
At this point in late July 2014, I was frustrated. After eight month, there had been no sales order entry, no invoicing, no inventory management, nor import of any historical sales data from our accounting system. No data in Orderbot means no reports, no help in managing backorders, nor any of the other sales force features we wanted to improve our customer service and company efficiency. Of course, we were on the hook for their $500/month service fee for the “use” of the software, not to mention the $5K (50%) down payment upfront
I run a small import/distribution company and my business is cyclical. Our busiest period of the year runs from late August to mid-December. I gave Orderbot an ultimatum late in July that we needed to get moving and by the end of August because otherwise, my team would be fully occupied with their regular job. Orderbot responded within 48 hours, and we seemed to be back on track. I provided them with our historical sales data in the format that they requested.
It then took them a month to import this sales history. We didn't hear from them again until it was almost done, no progress reports or anything. When they did notify me that they were nearly finished, all I could think about was that the data was already a month out of date! I fired them in September, a little more than nine months after we started.
Here is a summary of the most critical problems and issues we encountered:
1. No manuals. Are you kidding me? No easy on-line reference guides either? The only possibility to train or re-learn Orderbot is to struggle through a series of on-line videos, none of which had good audio or with a native English speaker. Yes, they really expect employees to sit through poor-quality reference videos each time they need a refresh on some operation in order to continue doing their job.
2. Integration with Quickbooks is a problem. They claimed it was a ‘no-brainer’ with third party soft-ware but it never happened.
3. Double-entry of data. We were not told in the beginning that, to ‘get going’ required double entry of our sales information: once into Quickbooks, and the second into Orderbot. The reason was that only after operating Orderbot over a 2-3 week period, could we see if it was working properly.
4. The accounting part, i.e. matching up Quickbooks accounts with Orderbot accounts, was held out till the end. Ditto here on the 2-3 week double data entry to match the accounts up. I am not a Harvard MBA, but I have post graduate degrees in math, physics, and chemistry. This isn’t rocket science, and it shouldn’t require a rocket scientist to implement. I was instructed to hire a ‘real’ accountant to make it all work properly. There was no real guidance in this area from Orderbot, only that “almost none of their customers integrate Orderbot with the accounting software”. Those that did “gave up after a year or so because it was so damn difficult”. Yes, this last statement was a real quote from the principal at Orderbot.
5. They wanted the monthly subscription fee ($500 min/month) from the beginning, well before we were even close to running.
6. The user-interface is not intuitive. There are no manuals. Navigating between different modules within Orderbot, knowing where to click to get drop down menus or launch some action was all very tenuous. I felt like it was guess work most of the time. My team didn’t have a good experience with it in the beginning either, however after a couple of months, they all got the hang of it. But that makes me feel nervous. If someone quit or was sick or on vacation, we would be stuck. Real reference materials like manuals (either in print or on-line) are absolutely essential.
In summary, we spent a lot of time and money trying to make this work. I encouraged my team every step of the way. In the end, there was nothing about the implementation process that was straightforward. There were problems, delays, and struggles at every step. Unfortunately, Orderbot is not ready for prime time, and I cannot honestly recommend it to anyone.
Dr. Robert Leuchtner