How to Avoid Mistakes When Implementing a New Accounting System
Choosing accounting and reporting software is a lot like having a house built. You may spend a lot of time vetting an architect and contractors, but that doesn’t mean you just sign off on their work and sit back and wait. In order to ensure that the house is designed to fit your family’s unique requirements, builders require feedback and your participation in the process.
Implementing accounting and reporting software successfully requires your active participation and management so that it more perfectly addresses the nuances unique to your business.
Every family office and wealth management firm is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to workflow processes or setting up system parameters. Vendors and clients must work together to get it right.
Misconceptions about implementing family office accounting and reporting software
A major stumbling block for businesses is underestimating the amount of time they need to set aside on their own side where it comes to the preparation and management of the implementation process. The highly specialized and complex nature of back-office accounting software requires a team effort. The software vendor takes on the bulk of the work, but ultimately success is accomplished when the client takes on an active role in the process.
The most important factors to consider from the perspective of the buyer are time and focus. It’s one thing to assign a project manager, but quite another thing to make sure the project manager has the ability to give full focus to the job. If the person assigned has to split time between their regular duties, implementation can get pushed aside by pressing demands, vacation schedules and the like.
Selecting an implementation team
When evaluating staff, there are several factors you will want to focus on. First, are they well-rounded enough to manage all the different phases of implementation? Do they have leadership skills and experience or ability to act as a team lead? Also think about which tasks can be delegated to other members of the team so that the project lead isn’t overwhelmed. Finally, it’s important to set aside enough time in the schedules for team members so that they are able to meet the demands of the project without getting distracted by other duties.
What if you don’t have the right talent or available time for the process?
Hiring consultants may not be something you want to think about after buying new fund administration software. However, doing so can save you time and money over the long run by helping you avoid costly errors and ensuring that you set up the system so that it most efficiently addresses your business software needs. This is one of those times where it pays to pay a little more. With this in mind, it is important to establish a realistic implementation budget. Doing it right the first time, even if it means going outside for additional help, will help you avoid a lot of headaches.
Data and formatting requirements
The crux of accounting and reporting software is data accuracy and the integrity of information built into reporting, both for you internally and for your clients. Carefully consider the data requirements and how it must be formatted and then make sure the data you already have saved is in order. It is up to your firm, not the vendor, to provide data.
If your firm has been in business for a long time, it’s likely you have a trove of legacy investor information, income statements, balance sheets and more. Companies tend to think their data is in better shape than it really is. It’s common for businesses to underestimate how much time and effort it is really going to take to get their data in order. If your firm is new, there is no historical data to worry about and the process is easier. Nevertheless, take a close look at the data and make sure it is accurate so that there are no delays once the implementation process begins.
The communication element
Like in a marriage or any other relationship, crossed wires and misunderstandings lead nowhere good. Avoid any disconnects or misconceptions by clearly talking things out with the vendor. In many instances, there is a difference between what the company expects from the software and what they think it does, compared to what it is and does in reality. The same is true of what the company thinks it needs and what it might really need.
It is important to ensure expectations are lined up with the realities and understandings of all parties involved. Communication is something that needs to begin early in the project, both within the firm itself, and with the vendor. This way any potential problems can be identified early on and team members can form a consensus from which to build a foundation on at the start.
No matter how well designed a system is, it will never do everything. Manual processes and workarounds may be required.
A good vendor offers robust pre-project consulting, which can help shed light on any issues before they upset the apple cart. FundCount is one of the few vendors with an established business consulting team experienced in analysis of the implementation process. They carefully assess operational requirements and workflow to secure a smooth transition.
The most important message related to choosing accounting and reporting software is teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. The implementation process is something that clients have to be involved with. Companies can’t just sign off and hope to end up with a product that meets all their needs. They have to be involved in the process, including being realistic about the budget, making sure their data is in order, and opening clear lines of communication. Do these things and implementation is guaranteed to go smoothly.