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7 tips when changing your accounting system

28th Jun 2022
Brought to you by
AccountsIQ logo

Award-winning cloud accounting software for multi-company businesses.

Share this content

We’ve all heard of the 80/20 rule. It applies to lots of situations. In the tech sector, for example, there’s a widely held belief that 80% of us only use about 20% of the available functionality in much of the software we buy.

Why? It’s not normally because of the product itself; it’s about the overlooked area of implementation. A successful accounting system implementation is about winning hearts and minds, getting people on board, defining a shared vision and project plan and managing expectations.

This article outlines:

  • What can Finance Directors expect when changing their accounting system?
  • How you can avoid many of the common pitfalls
  • How to reduce the risk of delays, budget overruns and inefficient outcomes
  • Why it’s worth investing time in the design phase of a finance system implementation.

Here at AccountsIQ, our onboarding team has extensive experience migrating customers from legacy on-premise systems to our Cloud accounting platform. That includes managing projects for complex, multi-group customers with over 200 entities and extensive business analytics and reporting needs.

Modern CFOs are juggling multiple demands

Running a modern finance function involves much more than ensuring smooth month-end processes. CFOs are increasingly fulfilling a crucial strategic role across the business. To do that, you need reliable, timely data to support the key decision makers that move your business forward.

This means choosing a new accounting system is a business-critical decision. After all, at some point, every transaction goes through the finance system. Increasingly, companies also expect all their business systems, from their CRM and EPOS to their payroll and project management software, to integrate seamlessly with their finance system. Just as you can’t build your forever home without strong foundations, you can’t scale your business sustainably without a properly implemented and integrated finance system.

Advice for a smooth finance system implementation

In a word, it’s about planning. Changing your accounting system often means you’re also changing your internal processes, so you’ll need to set goals, such as increased productivity or efficiency gains.

Here are some of the key points to consider when switching finance system: 

 

  1. Review the tech that’s now available – and what it can do   

The tech world changes fast. It’s likely that there have been many developments and innovations since you last looked. You can now get a lot more out of a new finance system that simply processing your accounts every month. Here are a few examples:  

Sophisticated Business Intelligence: this can include executive dashboards with customised graphs and charts tracking KPIs and the ability to drill down and investigate the data. This level of functionality used to be limited to the most sophisticated and expensive ERP systems. Now, it’s available from some advanced, but modestly priced, accounting software suppliers.

Storage capacity and processing power: this is rarely an issue with Cloud finance systems (unlike many older in-house systems).

Automated, paperless workflows: the world of work has changed, and a Cloud finance system will help with hybrid working and online collaboration by ensuring you always have access to up-to-the-minute management information.

 

  1. Choose a software provider who can support your implementation project

Your software partner can really help to ease your Cloud migration and implementation project and ensure you have the on-going support you need. Here are some questions to ask your potential software partner during the selection process:

  • Will you give us a dedicated implementation consultant?
  • Are your consultants experienced in both accounting and software implementation?
  • Can someone talk us through the implementation process in advance?
  • What on-going support services do you provide?
  • Can we speak to one of your existing customers about your support services or can they give a reference?
  • Will we have an account manager to help and advise us over the longer term?
  • What SLAs are in place?

 

  1. Choose a system that will support your growing business

You do not want to waste time, effort and investment in a system you will outgrow, so make sure any replacement system you choose is scalable. That means looking for a system with the capacity to continuously expand in volume terms and one that enables you to add new entities easily as you grow, and your business becomes more complex.

For example, you might need to add additional sites or locations. You might want more sophisticated management reports or to integrate with new tech that you don’t currently use. Make sure that your chosen software solution is flexible; that it can adapt to changing conditions, increases in transactions and data volumes and includes automatic access to enhanced and extended functionality.

 

  1. Bring the wider business onboard

You are about to change an integral and established part of your company’s processes and practices. Many existing users of the current system will have developed their own ways of doing things. Initially, they may not welcome the change because it means they have to adapt and alter their way of working.

Some people may even need to change their role and retrain. For example, implementing a Cloud based system will mean the end of in-house system management, such as daily and weekly backups, software and security patches, and transferring files to and from your accountant or other team members. All this will be fully taken care of and included as part of your Cloud platform.

This means major changes for many team members and the wider business. Even those who don’t need to change role will still need to adapt. Many new processes and features, such as electronic bank reconciliations, VAT submissions, and invoice and order approvals, will make their life easier. But you may need to encourage them to fully embrace these changes and recognise the long-term benefits, both for the company and their own career.

Here are our top tips for engaging your teams

  • Explain the benefits of the Cloud and your new system and what it means for them
  • Involve as many people as is feasible in the selection process to allay any fears or suspicions
  • Ask your chosen software partner for access to a demonstration or test account so they can try it out
  • Involve them in defining future processes and procedures (this is often a great opportunity to improve your accounting policies)
  • Engage people as early in the project as possible – this engenders acceptance and enthusiasm and makes training and implementation much smoother.

 

  1. Design your project plan

Implementing a new accounting system is the perfect opportunity to review your coding and analysis systems in the light of the new system’s capabilities. Work with your software partner to ensure your team understands the new system’s functionality and the benefits it will bring. This will include new types of business intelligence, such as reports, drill-downs, fast enquiries, dashboards and charts.

This area of management information is where you will get maximum benefit from the right design and set up of the company’s organisation and structure. Now is a good time to re-examine existing structures (and possible future additions), begin to write down company and/or group structures, departmental structures, Chart of Accounts, sales analysis criteria and reporting needs.

Here are some key points to cover in the pre-project design meetings with your software partner

  • Ensure everyone understands the objectives to be achieved in terms of management information
  • Plan and assign roles and responsibilities within the implementation team
  • Design the Group (if relevant) and Company Departmental Analyses structures (Divisions, Branches, Locations, etc.)
  • Design the Chart of Accounts and Sales Analyses Coding
  • Agree the scope of the data migration plan
  • Thoroughly plan the key Reports, Charts, and Management Information
  • Agree milestones and key dates for the implementation process
  • Agree training timetables and lists of users requiring training
  • Agree nominated Super Users to receive additional training and all training materials
  • Review training material and customise to different planned users of the system
  • Design and agree user access, user profiling and workflow processes.

It’s worth taking the time to brainstorm and ensure understanding between your project team and your software partner’s implementation team. The more the two parties understand about each other’s requirements, the better the implementation and future use of the system.

Two other design-stage considerations:

  1. User profiling: if you have lite business users that only require minimal access to the system then removing unnecessary access to unrequired functionality makes the system more appealing to these users.
  2. Integrations: if you need integrations discuss and plan them with your software provider at an early stage.

 

  1. Ensure your team gets the training they need

Trying to use a new finance system without proper training and support is frustrating and stressful for your team. It’s also one of the main underlying causes of the 80/20 scenario. Different users will need different levels of training, so talk to your software provider about their training methods and resources.

Some lite users may simply need to train on how to perform a specific task. Others will need a more in-depth training program that’s specific to their role. Everyone will benefit from training that is engaging, flexible and easy to access, so check if your software partner offers:

  • An online, on-demand training programme
  • Training videos
  • Training documentation, such as in-depth articles
  • Webinars
  • Account management and technical support.

Remember, some of the functionality, such as bank reconciliations, multi-company consolidation and multi-currency revaluations, may be new to some users. You’re also likely to take on new team members at some point who will need training on the system. Make sure they have all the information and step-by-step instructions they need to hand.

 

  1. Make the most of the ‘hand-holding’ support period offered by your software partner

Following your ‘go-live’ date there will be a hand holding period, where your software partner works alongside you to ensure everything is running smoothly. You can use this time to test out every aspect of the system to ensure everyone understands and is happy with how they need to use it. It’s also an opportunity to get feedback from users to pass onto your software partner.

Remember, Cloud software continuously evolves and develops, and your feedback is useful market intelligence for the software developer. Additionally, you may find certain processes and reports, whilst a great idea in theory, are not ideal in practice and need adjusting. This is the period to iron out small issues and ensure the system is moulded to your exact requirements.

“What I really like about AccountsIQ is they have a good understanding of the needs of SMEs. We get great technical support from AccountsIQ. This collaborative approach is very different to some of the larger providers.”

Mark Hunter, CFO, Integra Technical Services

At AccountsIQ, we operate a partnership business model with our customers. We’re always on hand with support if you need it. We’re also continuously developing our software and welcome feedback from customers.

“The best thing about AccountsIQ is the successful and collaborative relationship we have with the support team. We have completed a number of projects with them and they never seem to tire of listening to us and working with us to adapt the software for our own and for every other user’s benefit.  It almost feels like we are all part of the same development team.”

Emma Whelan, Financial Controller, Asavie.

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Webinar: Implementing a New Finance System

Watch our Implementing a New Finance System webinar recording where we share our advice on making your transition to a new finance system a success.