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Accounting Software Best Practices Accounting Software Best Practices

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By Alison Diana

Accounting Software Implementation Best Practices Add Up to Good Business Sense

Using best practices to implement your new accounting solution adds up to a sound business decision.

After all, how often do you replace such a crucial piece of application software, a tool you use to track and monitor your organization's revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities? How frequently do you have the opportunity to reexamine the processes and procedures your accounting department uses? It is, therefore, wise to take this golden time to apply some proven best practices to ensure you reap the biggest return on your investment and the most satisfaction from your newest accounting solution.

Rushing into an implementation is much more than a minor misstep. It jeopardizes the success of the entire solution, often unjustifiably tainting users' perception of the software as hard-to-use and not a good fit. Costs — and tempers — become inflated.

Eight Accounting Software Implementation Best Practices

  1. Don't go for a big bang implementation.
    Most seasoned implementation consultants prescribe an agile and iterative approach to implementing accounting software. Realistically, a new accounting solution will affect day-to-day operations, so phase in the software to minimize disruption and give users the opportunity to get acclimated to the new technology.

  2. Don't under-estimate training.
    It's important, too, to allot enough time to training, both for your internal IT staff who will physically roll-out the software, whether alone or with consultants, and for the employees who will use the software each day. Inadequate training is a sure-fire way to breed employee dissatisfaction. And quality training means employees are most likely to use all the gee-whiz features you chose when you picked out the software. Businesses use an average of only 64% of their enterprise systems' core features, and even less of the advanced features, according to an article in CIO Insight. That means, more than one-third of the software's capabilities remains untapped.

  3. Plan for thorough testing.
    Likewise, you should give your company adequate time to test the system using real numbers and real scenarios. Trial runs of a typical day give you the chance to see problematic areas - or areas that could be improved - without affecting business operations. Make sure the new accounting software integrates with the enterprise resource planning solution, the sales software, the HR system and the other business applications with which it must communicate before you flip the switch.

  4. Revisit capabilities learned during the software selection.
    Go back and review everything you discussed during the selection process. Remember why that feature was so important? Well, then it's important to stress that feature in user training. Do you recall how the vendor said its software integrated with your third-party payroll system? Sounds as though it's time to get them together.

  5. Plan for the data conversion.
    Unless you're coming into a brand, spanking-new start-up, most likely you're dealing with a mass of historical data, much or all of which must be moved from the old accounting system into the new accounting application. Whether you do this internally or rely on an external consultant proficient in data-migration, make sure you check to ensure the data made the transition correctly and completely. Converting legacy data can become a quagmire; perform data sampling early in order to understand data quality and don't underestimate the time this can take.

  6. Adopt formal project management during the deployment.
    With so many timelines, it is important to have a strong project manager who oversees both the timing and the business goals. Most likely your company is not in the business of running the best accounting software; rather, your accounting software is just another tool you use in your goal of building the best widget or selling the most gizmos. Don't get lost in minutiae.

  7. Design a communication strategy.
    Communication also is key. While a strong project manager plays a vital role, an accounting software implementation requires a team. Since there are so many aspects to an accounting implementation - training, conversion, trial runs, phased roll-outs, plus the day-to-day deployment hiccups typically associated with any software installation - you must have an organized, clear-cut and precise communications methodology in-place to minimize confusion, miscommunications, hold-ups or other snafus.

  8. Stay flexible.
    Structure's important - but flexibility is also necessary. Accounting software is a big undertaking and, most likely, you'll miss some deadlines. That doesn't mean you shouldn't strive to achieve realistic timeframes; it just means that speed-bumps often arise and are something the project team will have to address. Better to do it right and be off by a few weeks than scramble to meet a date - and then live with the consequences until the next accounting software implementation rolls around. End

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Businesses use an average of only 64% of their enterprise systems' core features, and even less of the advanced features.






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