Financial considerations impact nearly every business decision, it’s crucial to have a reliable financial reporting system that supports your company’s growth. But upgrading your accounting and finance system is no small undertaking.
The following suggestions can help guide you through a successful accounting and finance software implementation or integration:
1. Determine your needs
What are your goals for the integration or implementation? Whether you’re migrating to a cloud-based system or expanding the capabilities of your current software, consider what’s working well and what needs improvement. If you’re unsure what you need, consider bringing in an expert to help assess your current system. Once you’ve determined your goals for the implementation, make those requirements part of your project plan.
2. Choose a project manager
Designate someone with finance software integration and implementation experience to oversee every aspect of your project. This person will handle all the implementation details internally, including managing the project timeline, working with the software vendor you choose, and training staff. If you don’t have someone on your team with finance implementation experience, you might want to hire an expert. Consistent, knowledgeable oversight is crucial to a smooth accounting and finance software implementation or integration. Depending on the size of the project, this could be a full-time job.
3. Get buy-in
Upgrading accounting and financial systems require company-wide agreement. The process can take months (or longer), so make sure everyone understands what the changes will be and when they’ll happen. In addition, communicating the details of the upgrade can be an opportunity to generate excitement among employees about the changes. For example, let them know how the integration will streamline their jobs or make billing easier.
4. Choose a system.
Based on your project plan requirements, choose a vendor or software package that best meets your needs. At this stage, you’ll need to decide whether to purchase an “out-of-the-box” system or one that is customized for your company’s needs.
5. Plan the installation
Decide how you want to implement your new system. Most software vendors offer consultants to help plan the installation, and that consultant can work directly with your internal project manager. There are three options:
- Parallel running: Users continue with the current system while also using the new system. This approach is a safer way to transfer to a new system, but it can require users to put in their data twice – once in the old system and once in the new one.
- Phased: In this case, the implementation occurs in phases or chunks. This approach may cost more than the other two because it takes longer, but because changes happen more slowly, this approach allows time to address issues in each phase.
- Big bang: Everyone switches from the old system to the new one on a specific date. If there are any issues with your integration or implementation, this approach can be problematic. You might have to temporarily switch back to the old system to address the problems with the new system.
6. Offer training
Decide what kind of training materials you’ll need. Do you want to create a specific training manual for employees, or will a more general online training course from the software vendor you chose suffice?
Also, consider the timing of training: Educate end-users too early and they may forget everything they learned about the new system. Instead, find a sweet spot and train them just in time for the software implementation.
After the initial training, you’ll still need to offer resources as staff adjust to the new system and ongoing support, whether that’s a help desk or webinars.
Planning an accounting and finance software integration or implementation is no small feat. Carefully consider each step in the process and make sure you have the right experts to guide you to ensure your project goes as smoothly as possible.
Need to hire an accounting or finance professional with specific expertise? Connect with the recruiting experts at Nelson today.
Clea Badion is a copywriter, social media manager, and corporate blogger from the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s been writing about career and workplace trends for over a decade, specializing in blogging, website content, ghostwriting, thought leadership pieces, executive speeches, and presentations.