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Implementing a new system? How involved should you be? Part I

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Are you planning on implementing a new accounting or finance system, but you’re not sure of how involved you should be? This three-part blog series clarifies this dilemma by answering four simple questions: why, who, when and how you should be involved in the process. Part one focuses on answering the first question: As a customer, why should you be involved during the system implementation project?

One of the most integral, and unfortunately, most overlooked parts of implementing a new finance or accounting system is getting the right level of customer involvement. If you are not an active participant during your implementation you will face a lot of issues. The most important ones are:

  • Insufficient knowledge of system functionality
  • Development of a system that does not meet all of your needs
  • Lack of an understanding of key project concepts (e.g. timelines, responsibilities, etc.).

 

The consequences of these issues are diverse and long lasting. Understandably, the specific risks will vary depending on the type of system you are implementing, but for the below example let’s consider the implementation of an ERP system.

Why do you need to be involved?

  1. Insufficient knowledge of system functionality – If users begin transacting in a system without a full understanding of its capabilities, you are introducing a massive risk for a company. Incorrect processing of entries leads to inaccurate management reporting, poor visibility into live financials and can even lead to errors in financial statements. Make sure you and your team take the time to listen to your consultants, attend trainings and document the answers when you ask questions.
  2. Development of a system that does not meet your needs – Your implementation team should be an expert on the product being implemented. However, it is an unrealistic expectation for them to become an expert on every facet of your business. So, if there are specific business processes that are integral to your company, you have to relay this information to your implementation partner. Continuing with the ERP example, let’s say that you need your system to generate a specific report for management. If you do not have someone actively working with the implementers to define this report and know the options and limitations, then there is no guarantee that:
    1. The report is even possible to create
    2. The report will be created to your standards
    3. You won’t miss out on opportunities to improve your current report or process
  3. Lack of an understanding of key project concepts ­- When you are not actively working with your implementation partner you are running the risk of not understanding the key parts of your project that are going to make or break your plan to go-live successfully. This means missing information about potential delays, roadblocks or even overlooking open questions your implementer has for you. This can lead to inaccurate expectations, extra costs and longer timelines.

Although all of the consequences outlined above are fairly high level, it should paint a picture of the wide range of potential issues that can arise from being an uninvolved party in your own implementation. In part two of our blog series, we will explore the next two questions: who should be involved and when?

 

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