Written by John Barbanas.
I often hear people that operate Marinas and Boatyards to state that having an accounting software, like QuickBooks, or an even more expensive software system like an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system (like SAP ERP), is equivalent to having a Marina / Boatyard Management system.
Well, this is not entirely true.
And I know this because I have a college degree in Accounting (I was a CPA) and it happens to know a lot of things about Marina/Boatyard software.
An accounting software/ERP system is good at what they do and what they do is "Accounting". How can the "Chart of Accounts" help you managing your reservations? Or, a "Balance Sheet" help you cope with the movements of yachts from one place to another, or the requests of your Customers? They cannot. These tools are not designed to do these things, things that are imperative for a smooth marine operation.
On the other hand, a Marina / Boatyard Management System does not know a thing about "Balance Sheet", or "Chart of Accounts". An advanced Marina / Boatyard Management System may know, and do, some things that you usually expect from an accounting / ERP system, like, issuing Invoices and Receipts, generate "Customer Statements", or track your "Customers' balances".
But that does not make the Marina / Boatyard Management System a full-fledged accounting system. The same holds true for the accounting/ERP system: it is not a Marina / Boatyard Management System. Even if your accounting system is so expensive as an ERP system, it lacks the business logic and the tools that can help you run your Marina / Boatyard more efficiently.
Every piece of software is designed to do well a specific job only. Think of it as a specific build of car. There are sports cars for those who love speed and performance. There are pick up trucks that you can use to move things around and there are buses if you need to transfer a lot of people in one go. You cannot say that a sports car is "bad" and a pick up track is "good". It really depends on the mission you want to accomplish with it.
In my opinion, having the best of both worlds is the way to go. Keep your accounting/E.R.P software and use a Marina/Boatyard software for your day-to-day operations. Then connect (this is something that your Marina/Boatyard software provider can do for you - given that the accounting/ERP system that you have, can communicate with third party applications) your Marina/Boatyard software with your accounting/ERP software. That way you will have your accounting/ERP software (your back office system) updated automatically with what it happens in your Marina/Boatyard software (your front office system). And at the same time, the Marina/Boatyard software will make possible to run your marine business like never before. Mission accomplished!