There are many reasons that can prompt an organization to transition their accounting software and/or their AMS. Limitations of the current system, the need for other tools or manual activities in order to process financial data and activity, growing business operations, or the use of advanced features are just a few reasons of why an organization would consider a transition. Whatever the reason may be, be aware that any change to a new accounting software system is a huge undertaking and requires a tremendous amount of time and money. Below are some helpful steps to assist with an efficient and successful transition.
Defining the needs of the new accounting software system and/or AMS
Purchasing a new system requires more than not being satisfied with your existing one. Before you start looking for alternatives, it is important to create a framework of what the new accounting system should provide. Take the time to consult with all department leaders and staff to get an in-depth understanding of what the new system needs to provide in order to work more efficiently and effectively. Create a complete list of all required features, tools, reports, and functionalities before you start shopping for a new system.
Research available vendors and software systems – choose wisely
The market for new accounting software systems and AMS is vast hence it is important to spend the time in researching your options before making a final decision. Outgrowing a system happens a lot faster these days so a cheaper option may not always be the best. If you are purchasing a system with an integrated AMS, functionality, scalability, and the option to enhance user capacity and feature sophistication is very important. Make the vendor aware of your requirement list and have it included in your contract. The vendor should also specifically outline what services are included in the original purchase cost and what services will potentially incur additional charges. This will avoid conflicts down the road once the implementation and transition are in full swing.
Prepare a timeline
Creating a timeline with help you organize and track the process and progress of the transition to a new accounting software system with integrated AMS. Ask yourself “Who needs to do what, and when?” and set realistic goals that you can share with everyone involved in the process. If you are getting a new integrated AMS system you will also need to keep your customers informed and give them heads up that certain functionalities may change.
Get personalized training
Yes, there are many training videos and forums online but nothing compares to an in-person training session between the software developers and everyone who will be using the new system. When the training is personal, users are more apt to get each of their questions answered and start off on the right foot. This could make the difference between frustration and a smooth, effective start in your new system.
Testing, testing, and more testing
Nothing is more important than testing your new accounting system and integrated AMS. Testing should include day-to-day activities, the running of reports, and any other capabilities that were initially outlined in the contract. When the testing phase comes around, all users should have already received personalized training, hence allowing for a more effective testing phase. Last but not least, confirm that all promised functionalities outlined in your contract, are actually working before you go live. If you run into any issues or glitches, contact your software developer right away so they can implement solutions in a timely manner.
Financial Data to consider
In the best-case scenario, your new accounting software system and AMS will transfer all data from the old system to the new one. But what happens if certain data does not get transferred? In that case, you should run the following reports from your old database: Trial Balance, AR Aging detail, AP Aging detail, and deferred revenue (dues, meeting, etc.) statistics. If you have a transition period, in which both, the old and the new, are operational, make sure to organize your transactions and supporting documents accordingly in order to avoid duplicating financial data.
Last but not least, be prepared for bumps along the way; but despite the inconvenience, your organization will benefit from a more sophisticated system that exactly meets its needs. It is an all-hands-on-deck kind of project, be prepared to invest in effort and time, plan wisely. We wish you good luck in your efforts and would like to hear from you on how the process worked for your organization and whether you found additional steps that facilitated a more controlled move.
Written by Kristin Siebeneicher