A new solution implementation is a process where there is a goal orientated team approach – the end user at the client site and the implementation group for set up services. But it all needs to begin with a vision from the end user- not just for the future, but they must begin to plan out the roadmap to achieve their vision. The implementation team usually creates a project plan with achievable phases and goals. Separately from the vision, when viewing the entire solution, a technology agreement with proper expectations needs to be established to enable who is going to be responsible for getting the right moving parts to align together. All needs have to be mapped out including – licensing, updates, departments and location(s), account coding and timeframe. Everyone involved must consider holiday, vacations and any other internal or external projects.
The key to the success of the project, is to continually focus on the when, whom and why the solution is being set-up as this big change will be occurring soon. The time of the year is most important for the client’s success, whereas top managers enable their time frame and goals achievable for all. Some of those goals that coincide with timeframe are specific project and overall organizational needs. A successful business solution implementation begins with implementation methodology and realistic expectations that are set and managed throughout. For the implementation team, managing this change on schedule with success comes from experience. The end user chose that this experience will take them through beginning of the project through completion. Especially when multiple departments and various locations are involved and as more change occurs, trust plays an important part for the ongoing relationship for current and future projects.
Based on experience, here are several phases in the successful implementation of a new accounting system. At Accountnet, we call this our FORWARD methodology.
A. Review: “Analyze and Plan”- The first step is to conduct a thorough review of your organization’s requirements and processes, to identify what is working well and which aspects of the organization need improvement and or refinement. These requirements or goals should then be mapped into a project plan, becoming the driving forces behind your implementation.
B. Set-up: “Design and Develop”- Using the project plan produced in the Analysis phase, design your proposed new accounting system. Accountability is the process for all involved; adhering to the timeframe and structure the plans to be agreeable for all. Remember to be respective of everyone’s time. Anticipate other changes, and make the adjustments within budgetary plans.
C. Confirmation: “Training and testing” – Building on the test system and or utilizing data migrated from the legacy system. This step involves teaching end users the best practices and procedures for the new accounting system, insuring that any changes are worked out and verifying the maximum benefits are obtained. After the results of this testing and training period are reviewed and any corrections are applied, management should sign off on the new system (verifying that the work to date has been accepted).
D. Implementation: “Go live” – Working from the procedures developed in the Set-up and Confirmation Phases, the next phase is the completion of the final version of the new system (beginning with opening balances if not migrating data). At this point, the implementation team’s full resources are on-site and the team is ready to make the final transition to the new system.
E. Post implementation Support – After the successful launch of your new system, it is essential to provide or receive ongoing support. Online training, phone support and what’s new training sessions are examples of initiatives that can prove useful. It is also important to update the system regularly and proactively providing any training needed as a result of any changes.
Some of these core functions are ongoing activities, but are not limited to and must incorporate these following components for a successful implementation:
Software and Systems Support – Before the project proceeds, a thorough review of the existing infrastructure – an Accounting Technical Review (ATR) – must be completed. Software and systems support is ongoing and a recurring review of the current systems infrastructure ensures that the data (and any analysis of it) is delivered in an optimal fashion. Software and systems support also enables an opportunity to make specific recommendations for ongoing improvements to the hardware and software infrastructure.
Consulting Services – Get external consulting assistance as needed for any aspects of the internal review. This includes an Extended Relationship Analysis (ERA) and an ATR. Other consulting services include recommendations for best practices, details on the delivery of training and procedures, maintenance if testing, production and disaster recovery environments, and development of custom reports. A complete examination of your organizational environment may identify additional opportunities for improvements. Communication is everything.
Project Management – All aspects of the implementation must be tracked by the project manager, whose responsibilities include task assignments, resource availability, project documentation, budget and timeline oversight, and communication among the project’s team members.
It is so important that an organization’s implementation team trust and communicate well with their ERP consultant team during the implementation process that we encourage our prospects to meet our proposed consulting team during the pre-sales process. This then helps to determine if the personalities involved with the project will work well together.
The depth and scope of Accountnet’s corporate practice stem from the diverse experience of our consulting team, whom has more than 50 cumulative years of technical consulting, CFO-level expertise, accounting experience and service delivery. We are a consulting firm that also provides software sales solutions around ERP, procurement, distribution and budgeting with the latest technology and cloud solutions to fortune 1000 and other midsized companies. Organizations have relied on our advice to compete effectively in a global business environment. In some cases, the software is not discussed until the software needs are thoroughly reviewed. Our mission is to provide A-level service to everyone in the organization, from the accounts payable team to the CFO and upper management.
Hundreds of nonprofit, finance, technology, government, healthcare and business services use Accountnet to help enable and realize their goal of a complete ERP solution in a streamlined and definitive fashion. John C. Peace is COO of Accountnet, Inc. and a Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). He can be reached at (212) 244 – 9009.