By: Ciopages Staff Writer
Updated on: Feb 25, 2023
As your company implements new accounting and finance software, it embarks on a transformation that goes beyond the software itself. This sort of organizational shift comes with an array of implementation challenges and failure risks, but if you understand the main problems, it’s relatively easy to avoid them. Take a look at this list of common accounting and finance software implementation considerations.
In too many cases, companies focus exclusively on the technological aspects of implementing new software, but ideally, you should expand your focus to view the implementation as an organizational transformation that goes far beyond new software.
To that end, identify which accounting processes need to be changed and what type of organizational changes are required to support those new processes. That may involve anything from extra staff training to redefining roles to outsourcing financial tasks.
Change fatigue can refer to the frustrations of staff members as they get used to the new system, but it can also refer to the burdens placed on the company during the transformation process.
Ultimately, the purpose of accounting software is to save your business money by automating and streamlining financial and accounting processes, but on the path to that goal, you should anticipate spending a bit more in your finance department. Namely, don’t expect employees to handle transformational tasks as well as routine daily tasks. Instead, delegate some of the usual work of important people who need to be involved in this project, and utilize consultants as needed for support through the process.
When you choose quality accounting or financial software, you are not choosing an out-of-the-box solution. Rather, you can customize the software based on your needs and goals.
Don’t just accept a suite of enterprise-level functions that have been created for another company. Instead, find the customizations that are most in line with your organization’s current needs and processes.
A lack of scale can refer to software that is vast and unwieldy with more functions than a company needs, or it can refer to software that doesn’t offer enough features.
To hit this Goldilock’s zone of just right functionality, work with your vendor to scale the software to your needs. Also, keep in mind that it needs to be expandable so that can grow with you, as your company expands and prospers.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what you want from your accounting or finance software,
it can be hard to set end goals and ensure that the software meets your needs.
Put together a small team representing multiple parts of your organization and responsible for diverse functions, and have them identify the end goals of your financial software. From there, the team should focus on the organizational alignment, functional processes, and technology needed to attain these aims.
If the software is licensed with a limited knowledge of the company’s needs, that can cause users to become frustrated and focused on the deficiencies of the system, ultimately making implementation difficult or implicitly encouraging employees to use workarounds.
In addition to having a team identify end goals, focus on strategy development, and recognize which information, workflows, priorities or functions need to be reflected in your software. Then, work with your software vendor to define and refine those requirements.
Accounting and finance software doesn’t just automate processes for your business. It can also generate reports related to key performance indicators (KPI). Peer benchmarking would be a good idea.
However, if your KPIs are not well defined in the software design process, it can be hard for you to establish how well your company is performing. Identify KPIs based on industry-specific benchmarks, metrics from internal departments or other metrics computed in other ways, and make sure those KPIs are integrated into the software. However, don’t use too many KPIs or you risk being distracted from the most important ones.
When data management is overlooked in the development stages, it prevents the system from accessing the data that the software needs to create reports, run analytics and handle financial operations.
Focus on data management from the beginning. Identify data issues, and talk with the vendor about data challenges such as quality, timeliness, and sources. Then, let the software or consulting partner establish a data management plan that integrates available technology solutions and rigorous standards. Use skilled professionals for data migration to ensure everything is ported from other systems correctly.
A change management plan outlines how the new software is going to be implemented into your company. Without a plan, staff members may feel frustrated, confused or overwhelmed.
Create a change management plan, so you, the software vendor and your employees all have a timeline to work with. However, make sure the program also addresses the unique cultural aspects of your company, rather than just the schedule of the implementation.
Integration refers to how your software works with existing software. If the integration features don’t function properly, your software won’t’ have access to the information it needs for certain processes.
Use open architecture solutions that can easily integrate with your existing systems and also be modified to work with new software in the future. Also, set aside some time to integrate accounting and financial software with your CRM, payroll, HR or other types of software.
Lack of adequate quality assurance can result in holes in processes or unanticipated issues with the software.
To avoid that, test the software on an ongoing basis, and do a dry run before rolling it out officially. Identify issues and fix bugs as needed throughout the testing.
Your staff must be prepared to use the software, and adequate training for all end users as well as for your IT team is a necessity.
Schedule training sessions, and make sure to create separate sessions based on how different users are going to engage with the system. Be certain that all relevant staff members have received training before the system is rolled out. Also, have your IT team liaison with the software vendor so your internal team understands the architecture of the new software and can provide adequate support.
If the software is rolled out too quickly, staff may be overwhelmed, and critical aspects or features of the software may be ignored or not utilized to the full extent.
Implement the software slowly, and try a phased approach, where processes are slowly ported over to the new system one by one. That reduces the cultural and technological shock associated with new software and lets your employees embrace the process gradually.
Are you aware of additional Finance Software Implementation Considerations? Please share your ideas.