As Helios Live grew and its projects diversified, a pressing need emerged: the seamless tracking and management of payments owed to freelancers who contributed to the company’s projects. Helios Live’s unique payment structure, encompassing both per-deliverable and hourly payment models, demanded a custom ERP system to monitor and streamline the compensation process accurately.
Helios Live recognized the limitations of traditional tools such as Google Sheets. While these tools might suffice for simpler tasks, they proved inadequate for managing the intricacies of the company’s diverse and rapidly expanding operations.
The complexity grew further with the necessity of including multiple currencies—a feature the development team is still working on—and tracking work at both task and hourly levels. The existing shelf ERP solutions available on the market were found wanting, as the shelf ERPs were designed to handle either hourly commitments or just tracking invoicing and nothing more.
Goals and Objectives
The primary goal of the customized ERP system was to provide Helios Live with a centralized platform for meticulously monitoring and managing freelancer work. The system aimed to automate the process of tracking both the tasks completed and the payments owed to freelancers. This automation would not only alleviate the burden of manual data management but also ensure accuracy and timeliness in compensating contributors for their efforts.
Helios Live recognized the significance of transparent project budgeting and profitability analysis in sustaining healthy growth. The custom ERP system was created to enable efficient resource allocation by providing real-time insights into project expenses and earnings. By tracking expenses against allocated budgets and measuring profitability at both the task and project levels, the company aimed to optimize its decision-making processes and enhance the overall financial health of its operations.
The custom ERP system was designed to provide a comprehensive view of client-related financials in addition to internal operations. By integrating client outstanding payments and measuring profitability on the client level, Helios Live sought to improve cash flow management and better understand the financial impact of various client engagements. This comprehensive insight into both outgoing and incoming financial streams would empower the company to make informed business decisions and foster sustainable growth.
The first iteration of the Helios ERP system began as a simple Google Sheet designed to manage expenses. This experimental venture provided valuable insights into the potential of digital tools for financial tracking. As the complexities of Helios Live’s operations grew, so did the need for a more sophisticated solution.
With the creation of the affiliate site “residential-proxies.reviews,” the ERP system’s role expanded to encompass tracking affiliate commissions. However, the introduction of a new context brought forth new challenges.
The system was now required to track not only payments but also tasks that had been completed but had not yet been compensated. This shift in focus exposed the limitations of the existing system and highlighted the need for a dedicated platform tailored to the company’s evolving requirements.
As Helios Live undertook multiple projects simultaneously, the need for comprehensive project management and budgeting emerged. The ERP system’s capabilities were expanded to support parallel project tracking, allowing the company to more efficiently allocate resources, track expenses, and measure profitability across multiple projects. This enhanced capability empowered Helios Live to make informed decisions and strategically allocate resources.
During a challenging time for the company that was characterized by negative account balances and closed invoicing systems, the ERP system’s role evolved once more. The need to issue invoices to secure payments became imperative, yet the conundrum of needing payment to generate invoices created a unique obstacle. In response, the system was enhanced to include invoicing capabilities, allowing Helios Live to overcome this stumbling block and regain financial stability.
System Architecture and Technologies
At the core of the ERP system’s development lies the Laravel framework, renowned for its elegant syntax, expressive features, and friendly environment for software developers. Additionally, the integration of Laravel Nova and Laravel Jetstream enhances the system’s user interface, security, and authentication functionalities.
The system’s architecture is modular and extensible, allowing for the addition of new features and functionalities as the needs of the company change. This design ensures that the ERP system can scale with Helios Live’s growth while maintaining performance and efficiency.
Deployment and Infrastructure
Helios Live chose to host its custom ERP system on a single virtual server provided by Digital Ocean during the early stages of development and testing. This approach allowed the company to quickly establish an environment for system deployment and evaluation. While effective for testing purposes, hosting on a single server comes with limitations, including potential performance bottlenecks.
Recognizing the need for a more robust and scalable infrastructure, Helios Live has plans to transition to a managed private cloud environment. The company has chosen to collaborate with Voxility, a provider renowned for its comprehensive and customizable cloud solutions.
This move aims to provide Helios Live with the following benefits:
- Enhanced Scalability
The transition to a managed private cloud will enable Helios Live to scale its ERP system with ease and streamline business processes. By leveraging cloud infrastructure, the company can allocate resources dynamically based on demand and business operations, ensuring optimal performance during peak usage periods.
- Redundancy and High Availability
A managed private cloud environment mitigates the risk of downtime due to hardware failures. This ensures uninterrupted access to the custom enterprise resource planning system for users and minimizes disruptions, making it a must for all software development companies.
- Resource Allocation Control
Helios Live gains greater control over resource allocation and configuration within the managed private cloud. This flexibility allows the company to tailor the environment to the ERP system’s specific requirements and improve supply chain management.
- Data Security and Compliance
The managed private cloud solution provides advanced security measures and compliance protocols, enhancing the protection of sensitive data and ensuring adherence to regulatory standards.
Key Takeaways and Lessons Learned
The importance of meticulous planning cannot be overstated. The challenges faced during the development journey highlighted the necessity of a well-defined roadmap. Proper planning not only ensures that the system aligns with business needs. It also paves the way for efficient implementation and future enhancements.
Automation emerged as a central theme in Helios Live’s journey. The company achieved greater accuracy and operational efficiency. This helped automate tasks like payment tracking, data entry, invoicing, and even human resources. Automation reduces the likelihood of errors, allowing teams to focus on higher-value activities.
The development of the ERP system exposed the temptation to include a multitude of features, sometimes without proper evaluation of their alignment with business goals. Helios Live learned the value of cautious feature implementation—only incorporating functionalities that align with immediate needs and long-term objectives.
As our CEO put it succinctly, “Building software is easy. But building great software is f’ing hard.” (Note: I have the CEO’s approval to censor him to keep this case study PG-13)
Recommendations and Advice
Are you considering creating your own custom ERP system? Or are you signing up for a custom ERP software development project? I’ll give you one more tidbit of our CEO’s wisdom.
“Don’t do it!”
“If you’re still reading, I’m not joking; don’t do it.”
“If you have no other f’ing choice, like none whatsoever, then remove 80% of what you think it should do until you’ll cry if it doesn’t do it. And only implement that into it.”
If a custom ERP system becomes a necessity due to specific business requirements, heed our CEO’s wisdom. Strip away unnecessary complexity and features. Focus on implementing the core functionalities that will address immediate pain points. Simplification ensures smoother development, faster implementation, and an increased likelihood of success.
The allure of a feature-rich ERP system can be enticing. Helios Live’s experience underscores the importance of simplification and strategic feature implementation. Avoid overloading the system with unnecessary functionalities. Prioritize features that directly align with your core business needs and ensure that each addition contributes meaningful value.
The ability to efficiently track outstanding work and payments for freelancers, implement project budgeting, and manage client outstanding payments has streamlined operations, improved decision-making, and enhanced financial insights. An enterprise resource planning ERP is a must for any business.
The system’s architecture ensures scalability and performance, enabling Helios Live to accommodate growth using this custom ERP solution. The company’s achievements in developing a custom ERP system highlight the importance of aligning technology with business objectives.