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.
In part one of this series, we addressed why you, as a customer, need to be an active participant in your system implementation. Now that you’ve had a brief overview on the “Why?” it is important to talk about the “Who?” and the “When?”
Who needs to be involved?
One idea that is pervasive throughout many companies undergoing an implementation is that the main people who should be involved in a new system’s design and testing are the everyday users of the product. However, limiting participation only to the end users is overlooking a big piece of the puzzle. Anyone who will be involved in creating data that will end up in your new system and anyone reliant on system outputs need to be engaged from the initial project kickoff. Although the frequency and magnitude of their involvement will vary, it is integral that every relevant party is involved at the project’s onset.
When does your team need to get involved?
The best time to get everyone involved is the beginning of the project. All implementations should have an initial kickoff meeting that discusses items such as scope, timelines, roles, responsibilities, etc. Having all relevant parties involved at this step gives you, as a customer, the ability to understand the full impact that the new system will have on your business. For example, you may identify opportunities for integrations to streamline your business processes or you may realize that you need to modify a business process to align with the new system. More importantly, it gives your employees the opportunity to inform your implementation team of areas they may have overlooked, oversimplified, etc. After all, you know more about your business than anyone else!
A common issue with proper involvement is the associated time commitment. It is important to understand the best way for each party to be engaged in an implementation. For the following examples, let’s continue with the example used in part one: implementing a new ERP system. Often, there are three main buckets of people involved in an implementation: key stakeholders, management and users.
- Key stakeholders, such as the Director of Accounting, should be making most of the key decisions and providing guidance on business process. As such, these stakeholders should be engaged frequently and provided with in depth reviews of status, key decisions, open questions, etc.
- Another group to consider is Management, such as the CFO. Although this system is very important to the CFO, it is more than likely unnecessary that he or she is consulted on each decision or given daily updates.
- Finally, comes the Users, such as an Accounts Payable clerk or Accounting Managers. Although the users will be more active in the system than anyone, their involvement in the implementation process is often (appropriately) limited. It is key that they are brought in at the beginning of an implementation to understand how they will be affected. But as the design and build phases continue, daily users often only need to be consulted when the portion of the system being designed affects their day to day work.
In the final part of this blog series, we will explore the last question remaining: How do you get involved?