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Fiona McGuinnessApr 26, 2024 3:59:00 PM6 min read

Upgrading your lumber software: Why it’s essential for success


Replacing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is not just an IT endeavor; it's a full-blown, company-wide strategic initiative, fraught with challenges — it's costly, time-consuming, and involves a certain amount of risk. Yet, the risk of clinging to outdated systems can be far more detrimental. The question then becomes not if, but how, one should navigate the complexities of an ERP overhaul. And what are the most important features to look for in the lumber and building supplies industry? 


The Moat and the Castle: Legacy ERP Systems  

Think of your current ERP system as a medieval castle. It's fortified, has stood the test of time. and has deep trenches around it, aka the "moat." This moat is not just made of water; it’s comprised of years of customizations, tweaks, and employee know-how. Crossing this moat is daunting. After all, nobody likes change, and the moat offers a false sense of security. However, what was once an asset can quickly become a liability. The old stone walls crumble, the moat becomes a swamp, and before you know it, you're facing operational inefficiencies and security risks. 

Breaking the Status Quo: The Pivotal Moment  

Realizing the need for change is half the battle. This is the point where companies often get stuck — analysis paralysis sets in. The trick is to view ERP replacement not as a cost but as an investment. And like all good investments, there's an expected ROI (Return On Investment), which in this case can be substantial — improved operational efficiencies, real-time analytics, streamlined processes, and much more. Once you invest the time to conduct a cost-benefit analysis, you'll see even more clearly why upgrading is necessary. 

Agile Implementation: The New Playbook  

Traditional ERP implementations followed a 'Waterfall" approach: a linear, phase-by-phase rollout that left little room for error. Today, Agile methodologies allow for incremental implementation. This means you can set up a core system, test it, learn from it, and expand gradually. This minimizes risk and also ensures that your teams adapt more naturally to the new system.  

Stuart Newman, Managing Director of Setra Wood Products, emphasized the advantages of this approach when they went live with Intact iQ. “Going live on any new software is always going to cause some disruption. The beauty of when you go live with Intact - it was more about making sure that everything was set up in the right way from the start. So, we went live with stock, but we didn’t go live with accounts until two weeks later. So, we made sure the day-to-day functionality was working before we then moved forward to bring in accounts.”  

Employee Buy-in: The Human Factor 

Never underestimate the power of internal resistance. The best technology is useless if your team doesn't adopt it. The key? Involve them from the start. Let them be part of the decision-making process, the testing phase, and most importantly, the learning curve. This approach fosters a more responsive staff, ensuring successful adoption of your new technology. 

Cloud Compatibility: A Future-Proof Strategy 

As we move into an era where everything is connected, ensuring that your new ERP is cloud-compatible is not an option; it's a necessity. This allows for more effortless scaling, better security, and ongoing updates without the pain of manual interventions.  

Facing the challenges of ERP replacement can be daunting, but it's just the beginning of a transformative journey for your lumber business. As you navigate through these hurdles, it's crucial to keep your sights set on the solutions that will propel your business forward. Let's now delve into the essential features that can help you not only overcome these challenges but also thrive in today's competitive market.  

Timber Merchants-1


Must-have features for the lumber industry. 

As the lumber industry keeps changing, it's important to keep up with the latest tools and technology. To help your business grow, you need the right features in your software. These features will make things easier for you, like handling operations smoothly, keeping your customers happy, and making sure you're following all the rules. Here are some features you should be checking for to help your lumber business succeed and keep up with the times. 

  1. Timber Supply Chain Management: When you're in the lumber industry, keeping your timber supply chain running smoothly is crucial. ERP systems can help you with this by making it easier to track timber from the forest to your mill, manage your inventory levels effectively, and organize transportation efficiently. With these tools, you can ensure everything flows seamlessly while also meeting regulatory requirements.
  2. Inventory Management for Wood Products: Managing your inventory can be tricky, especially with all the different types of wood products, multiple units of measure and changes in demand throughout the year. Luckily, ERP systems are great for this. They help you keep track of your lumber, make sure you have the right amount on hand, and reduce waste by managing your inventory better. Additionally, they accommodate a wide range of units of measure to meet your customers' diverse needs.
  3. Production Planning and Scheduling: Running a lumber mill means dealing with a lot of moving parts. ERP systems simplify this process by facilitating efficient production and purchasing planning and scheduling. You can streamline your workflows, adjust production or purchasing based on demand, and keep everything running smoothly with proactive maintenance scheduling.
  4. Quality Control and Compliance: Keeping up with quality standards and regulations is important in the lumber industry. ERP systems make it easier by helping you maintain quality throughout your production process and ensuring you're compliant with environmental regulations and certifications.
  5. Resource Management: Sustainability is a big focus for lumber companies these days. ERP systems can help by tracking your timber sourcing, monitoring your resource usage, and supporting sustainable forestry practices. With these tools, you can operate responsibly and protect the environment.
  6. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Building strong relationships with your customers is essential in the lumber industry. ERP systems with integrated CRM features make it easier to keep track of your customer interactions, manage your sales pipeline, and provide personalized service. This helps you keep your customers happy and your sales growing.
  7. Analytics and Reporting: Making informed decisions is key to your success. ERP systems offer analytics and reporting tools that help you analyze your data, spot market trends, and forecast demand for your wood products. With these insights, you can stay ahead of the curve and make smart decisions for your business.
  8. Integration with Industry-specific Software: It's vital that your ERP system works well with software tailored for your industry. Lumber-specific ERP systems will already come packaged with many features you need. But they also effortlessly connect to other third-party software platforms, making your day-to-day operations smoother and more productive. This seamless integration of essential industry solutions not only simplifies your processes but also ensures that your entire team can work more efficiently.

Conclusion: ERP Replacement as a Growth Lever  

Revisiting our medieval analogy, replacing your ERP is like constructing a new, modern fortress complete with advanced defenses and self-repairing walls. Sure, the moat will have to be crossed, and the old walls tom down, but what you gain is a state-of-the-art stronghold equipped for the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. So yes, replacing an ERP system is hard, but in a landscape where adaptability defines survival, it's an indispensable maneuver. And as with any strategic move, the key is not to avoid difficulties but to face them head-on, armed with the right tools and mindset.


Ready to take the next step? Let's embark on this journey together. Learn more about Intact iQ for the lumber industry →