Change is Hard – especially a new accounting system

Just the thought fills even the hardest hearted business owners (and accountants) with terror!

As businesses grow the need for data management increases

Micro-business owners keep most data in their heads and their heads alone –  but as a business grows there are more staff, more customers, more products and services, more go-to-market channels and more costs.
Unless you are some sort of mega-genius it is really hard to keep track of all of that in sufficient enough detail.  Whilst you might remember the data, undertaking any type of meaningful analysis for improving the profitability of your decisions becomes harder and harder. So the time eventually comes when you need a new accounting system – one that is robust enough to match, track and report on the nuances of your business in both minute detail and also summarised and inter-referenced.
A great system will enable business managers to monitor interactions between human, system and information resources; using the knowledge gained to adjust behaviours and workflow, taking rapid advantage of dynamic market events and improving overall business performance.  However, experience shows getting to that point can be very challenging; often overtime and over-budget and not delivering many of the promised results.

So here are 5 tips from the recent Gartner Business Process Summit to help your project go smoothly:

  1. Understand your landscape

    One of the biggest threats to a new Accounting System’s success is organisational politics – organisational politics will prevent at least one-third of efforts from moving beyond one-off projects to enterprise-wide adoption.  Begin by recognising this will probably impact every staff member, and may also impact your suppliers and customers in some way – being clear about when where and how can prevent unexpected disasters.

  2. Involve the business as well as IT

    When selecting a new system consult widely throughout your organisation – any new accounting system has to suit both business and IT considerations. Enterprise change will not happen successfully in silos; the effects of change must be understood across the whole system, with relationships among individuals, teams, processes, and technology clearly mapped and monitored.

  3. Make sure the champions of the new system are senior business stakeholders

    These people also need to be the process owners, ie have ultimate accountability and be able to look across several functions. Senior staff must monitor all the changes, testing and implementation wielding enough power to push through any blocks or hiccups that arise in lower levels.

  4. Create a web of information

    For these senior stakeholders create one project dashboard with roughly 5 key performance indicators & 5 key result indicators; for managers and delivery staff have additional scorecards with additional process and results indicators that roll up into the top 10. Set-up metrics that cover the whole business, not silo-ed by department eg don’t make two indicators for Bob and three for Mary – think of clear, project wide, success measures. Focus on outcomes – just a few effective measures and have really concrete goals with time-frames – make your metrics transparent and accessible, so that everyone can see how the measurements are made and the metrics calculated.

  5. Make sure that the end result work is not boring

    Any process that does not capture people’s hearts and minds leads to alienation, and staff turnover. ‘Boredom’ may seem a counter-intuitive concept to some people when talking about ‘accounting’, but even with SMEs the amounts of repetitive work and data entry can be extensive. Given the costs of boredom include errors, burnout, customer complaints and staff turnover ensuring your staff stay motivated is a worthwhile investment.

Overall planning, ownership, governance and monitoring combined with an inclusive open information approach are the factors that when properly addressed will ensure a really successful and profitable outcome. Embrace all these early and your new accounting system will unlock hidden profit by facilitating a more flexible and efficient business.
How did you avoid pain when implementing a new accounting system? I’d love to know in your comments …[box type=”note” style=”rounded” icon=”empty”]

About the Author

Why own a business post - Eve Blackall Smart Accounting image
Often described as the small business answer to The Supernanny, our principal Eve Blackall also owned a Tax Accounting Practice for 15 years and also has worked as Financial Controller and advisor for various ASX listed companies.
Working with Smart Accounting you get to work one-to-one with Eve and not many consultants have her experience and expertise. She has been advising on how businesses can be more profitable, and how business owners can sell for the highest price, for over 25 years.[/box]