Sabre Limited offers fixed-fee pricing for our Business Central training and implementation process. This is really unique, and to the best of our knowledge Sabre is one of only a handful of Business Central implementers who publish pricing and details front and center on our website. Customers often ask us to explain our Business Central training pricing model and how it works. This article will dig into how we decided to price our services and why we made those decisions.
Overview of Sabre Business Central Training Pricing
This is a briefer summary of the article in case you don't want to read into all the details.
There are No Training or Implementation Hourly Charges
Sabre's Business Central training pricing is designed so that we never charge by the hour. The only exception is for custom programming since we can't predict that. The only bills are a monthly project-management and support fee (called Project Excellence, see below) and a fixed up-front cost based on the complexity (our Packages).
Modes of Manufacturing or Type of Manufacturing
We break the manufacturing company type down by their mode of manufacturing such as "Engineer to Order" or "Make to Stock" etc. Sometimes it's a type of product made like "Flexible Packaging." Companies of these types typically need the same kinds of things which makes it possible to define packages. Business Central implementation and training tends to be very similar with businesses of the same category.
Packages and Company Complexity
Within each mode or type of manufacturing, there are different levels of complexity that come up. These are usually based on the complexity of the product made or who the end customers are. This does not always map to the business size. We call this Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The more regulated and complex the business, the more like Gold they will be. The simpler, the more like Bronze.
Regulated might be by government or customer/market requirements. Complex could be a very, very large number of items or deep multi-level bills of material.
Size of Business and Number of Users
When Sabre first created Bronze, Silver, and Gold the price was the same regardless of the size of the customer. We found that this was unfair to small customers and unprofitable for very large ones. Two Business Central Job Shop manufacturers who both want Silver implementations; one with 200 the other with 20 employees are obviously different.
Our Sabre Business Central training pricing was changed to remove the "size" costs from the base price and add the Project Excellence system. Project Excellence adds a monthly amount based on the size of the customer (measured by the number of full users needed). This is the fairest way to price based on the size of the manufacturer that we have been able to find.
The Training Is Not the Features you Get
In our training program, we cover more features in Gold than we do in Bronze. That does NOT mean the feature from Business Central is missing in Bronze. It just means we won't train. So if you want Fixed Assets in the future, you don't need to select Gold so that you have that feature. The feature is in Business Central. We just don't cover it in the course because (usually) you don't need it right away.
Theoretical Training Group Size
We have discovered over the years that training breaks down into two distinct "phases" which are the Introduction training where most everything is "theory" to the trainees and Advanced training where it is much more practical and usually based on your data.
When too many users are involved in the "theory" of the system, it causes confusion. We require a small team to be involved in the start, and gradually you can expand that team. This is so that the "theory" can be learned by the small group, then they make decisions, and the larger group is focused on practical stuff only.
If you want to dig into more detail on these concepts, let's keep going and dive in.
Business Central Fixed Fee Training in a Nutshell
At Sabre, we never want to bill you by the hour.
That's it. That is our model for our Fixed Fee pricing. We want to bill you in a simple way that is not based on how long it takes us to do something.
The one thing we do need to bill by the hour is custom programming and activities related to it. It's just too hard to predict how much of that there would be. Despite that, for everything else we've created a Business Central training method that is very simple and easy to understand.
Let's say you were a Commercial Print customer doing a Silver Implementation. That's a $60,000 fixed amount. Let's say for simplicity you also had $2,000 a month in-project fees. The billing for that project would look like this (excluding any software):
|Month and Description||Fixed Bills||Monthly Fee|
|1 - Kick Off and Introductions||$10,000||$2,000|
|2 - Intro Training (more Theory)||$10,000||$2,000|
|3 - Adjustments and System Setup||$10,000||$2,000|
|4 - Advanced Training (with real world samples)||$10,000||$2,000|
|5 - Pilot Testing (your team tests and runs scenarios through)||$10,000||$2,000|
|6 - Pilot Sign Off/Ready to Go-Live||$10,000||$2,000|
|7 - Go-Live||$0||$2,000|
|8 - First Month End Support/System Use Audits||$0||$2,000|
|9 - Second Month End Support/System Use Audits||$0||$2,000|
|10 - Third Month End Support/Regular Support||$0||$1,000|
|11 - Regular Support||$0||$1,000|
|12 - Regular Support||$0||$1,000|
The goal is to create a very simple to understand, easily managed project cost from your point of view as a customer. The $1000 per month after 10 months is your regular Business Central support from Sabre. If your project were to go long (for 9 months rather than 7 months) then you'd have an extra $2000 of costs ($1000 a month) but that is because the extra time requires extra project management from Sabre.
Manufacturing Companies Fall into Categories
The next question we get about our Business Central training cost is "how did you come up with your pricing?" Customers want to know that our price model is accurate.
The answer is that we based pricing on the experience(s) of doing dozens of projects for many different types of manufacturers.
It is a fact that manufacturing is often categorized into Modes of Manufacturing. These categories have to do with how the manufacturing process is done. There are also some industries or product types that can be further categorized. Here are the main ones we are currently providing prices for:
Sabre's Manufacturing with Business Central Generic Categories:
- Job Shop Manufacturing
- Make-To-Order or Make-To-Stock (aka Production Manufacturing)
- Engineer to Order
- Project Manufacturing
In addition to these Modes of Manufacturing, there are also some more specific types (mostly related to our PrintVis product).
PrintVis Manufacturing Types
What we have done at Sabre is analyzed the most frequently requested set of features that these categories need in their business. We've created "packages" of these features in a "Good/Better/Best" model which we call "Bronze, Silver, and Gold." The packages usually align with the complexity of the manufacturer more than the size.
Packages and Company Complexity
Let's take a simple example to explain how the Sabre Business Central training pricing applies the Bronze, Silver, or Gold package to the complexity of the manufacturer.
Let's take 2 different Make-To-Order manufacturers.
The first makes 25,000 ladders each month. They have 75 employees, and purchase components from overseas that are already cut and ready to assemble. They have about 100 different parts kept in a 20,000 sq foot warehouse. They get ladder risers of different sizes and colors, and rungs with different features (rubberized, plain, etc.). The staff assemble these ladders with power drills and ship them to customers (small mom-and-pop stores) all over the USA and Canada.
A second makes small engine assemblies for small propeller airplanes. They have 20 employees. They also purchase components from contract manufacturers and do the assemblies on demand. Each assembly has about 200 parts, and they have a complex QA process. They have 2000 small parts in a 5000 sq foot warehouse, and they need to lot-track all of it to comply with FAA requirements.
The ladder manufacturer is either a Bronze or Silver implementation. They might just need assembles (Bronze) because the product doesn't need to go through any machine centers for planning and scheduling.
The small engine assembly manufacturer is Silver or Gold. They need some advanced QA, Lot/Serial tracking and maybe warehouse management due to the volume of small parts.
The Bronze, Silver, and Gold plans are designed to account for the complexity, not the size.
That said, it's also true that the larger a manufacturer, the more likely they are to be complex.
Size of Business and Number of Users
One of the most common questions we get asked is "if you have a fixed fee, why do you charge a monthly amount for your Business Central implementation?"
The answer is that we didn't use to.
Take the example above (the Bronze ladder builder and the Gold aerospace business).
The reality is that the ladder builder is going to have more people to train and it's more likely some of them are going to struggle. The size of the business does impact the Business Central training cost.
Likewise, the aerospace company is going to be easier to deal with because there are fewer people to deal with.
So we took the prices of our Business Central training method and lowered it to (basically) the price of a project without any project management or extra support. We then looked at projects and said "how can we tell how much extra there is for this larger project than that smaller one?"
What we determined was that the number of full users who will go live is a great predictor of whether a Business Central training and implementation project will take longer and need more hours of project management or support.
Small projects with just a few ultimate users almost always have the entire user base involved in the project. Say there are only 7 staff who will use Business Central in a company. Usually all of them (or almost) are involved in the project right from the start. They go live a bit faster, and require a fewer meetings and coaching as time goes on.
In a business that's large, the project will expand and grow over time. In a company with 30 users, the Business Central training will expand from 5 or 6 in the beginning to eventually wrap up with all 30. It will take longer and/or involve more meetings and more tutoring or coaching.
Of course that will expand the project effort as time passes. The monthly amount adds into the project enough to handle this.
The Training Is Not Related to the Features in Business Central
Another question we get all the time is "I need to get Gold because I will want to use Cash Flow in the future, and that is part of Gold."
No you don't. Our training programs are not related to the features you will get in Business Central. These programs are the Business Central functional and feature training that we're going to provide and support you in right up to your go-live. The features that are part of Business Central training pricing are an entirely different thing.
Once you go live, you can start adding more training and use more features. But not until we are wrapped up with your support and give you the ok.
Most customers are either implementing an ERP to replace excel spreadsheets and Quickbooks (or Sage 50, or whatever entry level accounting system) or they are replacing an existing ERP.
It is hard to learn an ERP in the first place. It's even harder to learn an entirely new concept you've never done before in software. So our model is simple.
Implement in the ERP for your go-live only what you do today,
and what you bought the ERP to immediately fix (a major problem you have).
This is a pretty fundamental feature of the Sabre approach.
Do not bite off more than you can chew.
Implement a simple go-live with the least you can get away with. Once that is done, it will be much easier to implement those extra features. If you tell us which ones are important to you, we will make sure you don't paint yourself into a corner.
For those of you who want to control your own staff and prevent "Feature Creep" and cost overruns, Sabre's process is excellent at keeping costs down. Our staff will hold your team to the package you choose. We will not spend your money and go "off the rails" doing all kinds of extra work.
Theoretical vs Practical Training Group Size
I am going to get into the project flow and plan in a different blog, but for now let me leave you with this last thought about the Sabre process.
ERP systems contain hundreds (maybe thousands) of features. Some of these are for not-for-profit businesses, some are for distribution, some are for multi-national businesses. Many of them are applicable to manufacturing, but it is exceedingly rare for anyone to use every feature of the system.
The first few months of the project is spent going over all the features at a high level, discussing these "theoretical" features. You do not want your line staff learning this stuff. For many people, it is just confusing and unnecessary.
You need a few key members of your team (I recommend 2 per session maximum) to learn the system well enough to give a thumbs up or thumbs down to these features.
By the point in time you will bring in more staff to be trained, your trusted staff will have eliminated what isn't needed.
In addition to the feature inclusion or exclusion process, there is also a "how do you want to use this feature" discussion. Some of the capabilities of the system work in different ways. You might want to do material planning, but do you want to use reorder points or lot-for-lot and accumulation periods? You might not even know what those things mean, and deciding is not simple.
The transition from the theoretical to the practical takes place around the mid-point of the project and it is from that point forward that you and your team will run real-world scenarios through the system (with our help and guidance).
By the time you are ready to go-live, your staff should have followed our Business Central training method, figured out how to use the system, be confident (as much as they can) and prove to us that you're not going to shut down your company when you turn the new system on.
This article is meant to explain and outline how Sabre's Business Central training method works, why and how the pricing is the way it is and briefly introduce the actual project process.
You can read the upcoming article that outlines the project itself when that is ready.
In the meantime, don't hesitate to book a meeting with us to discuss your Business Central needs.