Six pitfalls to avoid when selecting your next system
1) The data conversion misunderstanding
There are three types of data which can be converted when changing your finance system:
Static data: All records such as stock, customers, suppliers
Opening balances: Aged debtors & creditor balances, NL opening balances
Historic transactions: Full history of every transaction including their details
If you move to a new system from the same vendor, they are likely to offer you a full data conversion which includes history. However, if you are moving from one software vendor to another, for example Sage to SAP, you will only be able to convert Static records and opening balances. No Historic transactions will be converted, as this is too time-consuming. This means you will not have any yearly comparative reporting figures in one system for at least 12 months. There is not much that can be done about this, but being aware of it before you start the process will help you plan accordingly.
2) The ‘service hours gap’
When you ask suppliers to quote for the services needed to implement their software, be very specific about which activities you expect their consultants to undertake and which your staff will do. It is common during implementations for there to be a gap between what you’re expecting the supplier to do and what the supplier is expecting your staff to do. Make sure you clarify if the quote was for a ‘Supplier Assisted Build’ or a ‘Supplier Build’. An assisted build assumes your staff have to build the system, after some training and guidance from the supplier. Either might work for your organisation, but make sure you specify what option you want. A simple way to avoid any misunderstanding is to list all key activities, and allocate them to the team responsible before signing any contract.
3) The 64Bit problem
Recent shifts in the market to 64Bit servers have caused problems for many software suppliers. Many software applications today are not 64Bit-compliant, and require upgrades. Many vendors have upgraded their main systems but are still working on their reporting, integration and Payroll systems. If you are buying a new server for your Accounting system it is likely to be 64Bit, so make sure you specify that ALL the software you buy is compatible.
4) Not knowing the Consultants
During the sales process your main view of the supplier will be their sales & marketing function. Don’t forget that they won’t be the people who arrive on your doorstep with a CD, ready to install your new system! It is very important to get to know who the consultants are, as they will be the ones responsible for making your system work. Test their knowledge of your industry, your existing system and data transfer experience, problems they have overcome with similar companies, and their personalities. It is not uncommon for organisations to say “If I had known who was going to implement the system I would have selected another supplier.”
5) No internal resource planning
Implementing a new accounting system is very time-consuming and requires a lot of internal resource. Most implementations go wrong because the customer has not planned for the extra resources needed. Suppliers are very keen for customers to appoint an internal project manager so they have a counterpart on the inside, to help manage the project. If you appoint someone who also has a day-to-day role in the company, they have to dedicate enough time to the implementation for it to succeed. Extra activities the internal project manager will need to undertake include:
– Arranging workshop and ensuring attendance
– Distribution of meeting agendas and notes
– Appointing and manage process owners
– Provideing Management with feedback
– Being a link between internal IT and the supplier
– Being a single point of contact for the project
Consider carefully if the person you want to appoint has enough time available for the project. If they don’t, you can expect problems and delays during the implementation.
6) No knowledge transfer by the supplier
The last, but probably the most important, pitfall to watch out for is the lack of knowledge transfer between the sales people and their consultants. Once the order is signed, the sales person moves on to other projects and their focus changes. This is dangerous, as they are the person who knows the most about your business, what is required from the solution, and what has been promised. Based on our experience, few suppliers spend more than an hour to ‘hand over’ the project to their consultants.This leaves you to cover old ground, which slows down the project andcosts more money. It is not uncommon for consultants to arrive on a customer’s site with very little understanding of what was discussed during the sales process. Make sure you attend the project handover meeting and have an agenda which covers all the elements discussed during the sales process.Another element to consider is the documentation you keep as a record to show what was promised during the sales process. Once the implementation kicks off, it is very easy for consultants to exclude setting-up features because they run out of time. If you don’t have a system specification, you have no proof of what you bought.
Published by Solutionz Source Ltd