Choosing accounting software: Transitioning to new system
You’ve decided on a new accounting software package. Now it’s time to install it and start using it – these tips will help the implementation go smoothly.
This is the final article in a four-part series aimed at helping you choose and implement the best accounting software for your business. Previous articles discussed how to determine when it’s time to invest in new software, how to identify what you need your software to do, and how to evaluate the software packages available and reach a decision about which system to purchase.
We’ve made a decision. Now what?
Once you’ve finally decided which software to purchase, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty of setting it up.
Having been through the process hundreds of times, I’d like to offer you four tips to help make your implementation process smooth and stress-free:
"There’s no point buying new software to replace something that wasn’t up to scratch, and then using the new system in the same old way."
Take the garbage out
The old computer adage of ‘Garbage in, garbage out’ really does apply. It’s in your best interest to ensure any data you’re exporting from your old system and importing into your new one is robust and accurate, so clean out any superfluous customer records, supplier details and product files before you start. The time spent will be well worth it.
Prepare for change
Don’t underestimate the importance of change management. Changing your accounting software means you’ll probably need to change at least some of your processes. After all, there’s no point buying new software to replace something that wasn’t up to scratch, and then using the new system in the same old way. These types of changes will take you (and any team members) out of your comfort zones, so make sure you leave time aside to think the new processes through, and to consult and communicate with everyone affected, every step of the way.
Want more articles like this? Check out the financial management section.
Invest in training
Invest time (and money if necessary) in training for yourself and any staff on the best use of your new system. Not only will it make you more comfortable with the change, but it will also mean you get optimal benefit from your new system, and as quickly as possible.
Get expert assistance
Unless you’re in IT, you’re probably only going to implement new software a few times during the course of your business life. It’s not rocket science, but it can be complex – and it’s easy to make errors that can come back to haunt you later. For the majority of small business owners, the investment involved in hiring a consultant to implement the new system will pay for itself many times over.
When choosing a consultant to work with, consider the following criteria:
- How much experience do they have implementing the system you’re considering purchasing?
- Can they provide references from businesses of a similar size to your own?
- Can they assist with training and ongoing support as well as implementation?
- Do they listen to your needs and communicate in a way that is easy for you to understand?
- Will the implementation be done by experienced people, automated using a computerised program or outsourced to a low-cost overseas freelancer?
Have you implemented new accounting software in your business? Please share what went well, and what pitfalls you’ll be sure to avoid next time.