Your existing accounting system is a record of all the financial activities of your business – in order to ensure that you do not lose any important data, it is essential to transition to a new accounting system as seamlessly as possible. Whether you are looking for a higher level of accounts automation with a more advanced accounting solution, or simply want to transition from a manual Excel-based process to your first accounting system, you will need a plan.
From someone who has witnessed dozens of accounting system implementations up close, here’s a list of the key issues and questions that you will face while working on accounting software migration:
- Change management
- Identifying the right system
- System testing and tuning
- Going live
Let’s take a close look at each of these aspects and find a way in which they can be controlled for maximum benefit and minimum harm.
1. Change management
Even before you begin the process of choosing a new software system, you have to think about the people that are eventually going to use it.
- Will your staff be happy with the change?
- Do you hear demands from within the company to get new software that works better than the current system?
- Are there enough people in the trenches who are ready to promote your choice of software?
Learning a new system takes time and effort – you can take the horse to the water but you cannot make it drink. So, before all else, talk with your staff, involve them in the process of choosing a new system and take into consideration the problems they face while using the current system. As far as it is possible, choose a system that can resolve a majority of the issues that your accountants are facing – and sell it to them before you make a costly investment.
When you implement a new system, it is possible that some of your staff may feel threatened and others may feel it will simply add more work to their plate. By explaining the benefits of the system clearly and often to your staff, you increase the chances of its success.
2. Choosing the right accounting software
At the end of the day, you are looking for a solution that enables your team to achieve more with less effort. In addition, you may want to reduce errors by automating bookkeeping related tasks. But when you are out hunting for accounting software, you will have to look at it from multiple perspectives:
a) Is it the right fit for my accounts department?
b) Cost-benefit analysis: does it offer value for the time and money invested?
c) Do I need an offline or online solution?
d) What are the implications of the new accounting software on online security?
e) Can I rely on the software provider for support, maintenance and upgrades?
Are you in the process of selecting accounting software for your business? Don't forget to ask these key questions!
3. System testing and tuning
As noted earlier, it is unlikely that any accounting software will fit your accounting processes perfectly. Even after you have diligently listed features and mapped them with the activities that your accounts staff performs, it is possible that you will discover the need for new features and urgent modifications when people actually start to work on the system. Suddenly, you will be confronted with a dozen things that don’t work as well as planned.
In order to avoid such a rude shock, it is best to set aside a transition period. During this time, have some of the team work on the new system and compare its output of data with the existing system. For instance, you can run a set of transactions in both the systems to compare the accuracy of results. Also, if circumstances allow, use some of the team members to randomly test the system.
4. Training program
While the roll out of a new accounting system will generate a lot of excitement, some of your staff will be annoyed with it and irritated at having to learn how it works. In order to avoid any errors, it is best to train all your staff in the use of the new system before roll out. For companies with large accounting teams spread across departments, it is imperative to offer a concrete training program. Also offer easily understandable training manuals to the staff members.
While the representative from the accounting software firm might be able to help you out here, it is best to train some members of the team who are already involved in the daily accounting activities and ask them to train others.
5. Go live
If you have taken all the preceding steps, you will have a user-tested accounting system that works reasonably well. Your staff is trained in the use of the software and you have a few people who excel in its use. You will have a new process manual that includes the list of new procedures.
You can go live first with the financial department and then roll out the system to the larger organisation. In order to ensure user buy-in and smooth processing, you can conduct internal training sessions, workshops and seminars to educate various stakeholders in the use of the software.
Remember, choosing and implementing an accounting system will take a lot of time and effort. Work hard to get it right the first time, don’t miss any step, and ensure the success of your accounting software implementation project.
As a provider of outsourced finance and accounting services, we have helped many of our clients choose and implement the software needed for digitisation or automation. If you need any help or guidance, please feel free to get in touch - our experts would be happy to help. Contact us online, or call us on 0845 838 2592.