Implementing a New Accounting System: Myths vs. Reality

Implementing a New Accounting System: Myths vs. Reality

Selecting and implementing a new accounting system isn’t easy. A committee has to select the software. The contract has to be negotiated. Then the implementation comes with common myths vs. harsh realities.

Myth #1: The vendor can do it.

Vendors earn more money the longer it takes to install the system. And vendors know one way to do things: their way. Consider finding a resource in the business of implementation, a resource that’s done it before and knows how to make the most of the system, a resource motivated to do things faster and more efficiently and willing to stake its reputation on it.

Myth #2: I can do it myself.

The question here isn’t whether you can do it in-house, but whether you should do it in-house. Most of your in-house people have not done this sort of thing before and likely will not do it again. With one chance to get it right, this isn’t the best time for on-the-job training, and there is significant value in being as efficient as possible. It may be prudent to bring in an experienced outside resource to work with your in-house team to save time, money, and aggravation.

Myth #3: Multiple vendors will conflict with our people and each other.

Well … it depends on the vendors. The right combination of system vendors, in-house experts, and conversion specialists can be ideal. Independence allows the conversion specialist to act as referee, in the interest of the in-house team, but with the experience to recognize and explain who is right (and why) to the satisfaction of all parties.

Myth #4: The software vendor sends senior people for implementation.

If senior connotes experience and capability, it’s safer to assume the vendor’s best people are in its development shop. Expect them to send “Joe Fuzzy Cheeks” for your project. While the vendor’s implementation people might be bright, they likely will not be the right people to determine how to get the most out of their software for your unique business requirements. Better to go with a resource that’s been there, done that.

Myth #5: The vendor will send people to help use the software and resolve data issues.

There are two realities here: First, the lion’s share of the vendor’s conversion work will be conducted at their site, not yours. The vendor will either send you a database, or give you access to the database they’ve set up for you. After that, you’re on your own. Second, it’s the nature of software to have bugs in it, as well as functions that work for other clients but not for your unique requirements. You will want boots on the ground to help identify the bugs and functional gaps and develop the inevitable workarounds.

Myth #6: Someone who knows project management and implementation doesn’t need to know my industry.

All of the difficult issues that need to be tackled in a conversion relate to the business’ use of the technology. Doing it right has everything to do with understanding the industry. An experienced project manager can (and should) be part of the team, but you need someone who understands your business and the technology to make the most of the new system.

Myth #7: My IT people know a lot about the business and this process will teach them more.

Two words: Learning curve. If it took years for your IT people learn your business issues with adequate depth, how long will it take them to learn the best way to integrate a new system with your business? And who will take care of their other responsibilities while they learn? Don’t blame them for wanting to be involved. But don’t lose site of the organization’s best interests.

Several of these myths are embedded into the culture of many companies. Often, C-Suite executives take them as truths because of this. We urge all decision makers to consider the ultimate outcome when deciding how to handle a conversion. The goal for all of us should be to get the organization up and running with the new system as efficiently as possible, so that’s it back to business as usual – only better.

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