As a finance professional, there are several catalysts that might push you to make the jump and opt for new financial software.
Perhaps your business is expanding globally, widening its offering of products or services, and growing its supply chain. Maybe you have recently acquired another company, or initiated a new partnership – and, thus, your operational requirements have changed.
Whatever the reasoning, it can be a daunting prospect when your mid-sized business is evolving, and you decide that a financial software change is the most viable solution.
In spite of the excitement that comes with a shiny new system, finance professionals will inevitably feel a certain amount of apprehension. You’re safe in the knowledge that the new financial software will be beneficial, enabling you to grow and flex as a business, or improving business insight, for example.
Nonetheless, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and naturally there will be several obstacles to face on this deployment journey.
Is it all worthwhile? Well, that depends on your unique situation. Before you seek a new system – and analyse the logistics involved in deploying new financial software – you ought to take a hard look at your existing system and processes to see whether they are really a hindrance to your business.
There’s a long road ahead, and a glance at the market shows that the confines of possibility have changed since your last deployment. If you’re sure that the overall outcome outweighs any turbulence you might experience along the way, ensure you have a comprehensive plan in place to avoid any pitfalls during the roll-out.
Stick to the schedule
A roll out plan is an essential element of any project; you’ll need to work with your provider to put a detailed one together, defining your timelines and deadlines. To be on the safe side, always allow for more time that you think you’ll need.
While customers will normally tolerate one missed deadline, just one slip-up in the schedule can have a domino effect. This has the potential to do real damage, so take the time to agree deadlines with all parties involved, and make sure the project manager running the deployment at both ends is organised and resilient.
Ensure your staff are on board
Ensuring you have staff buy-in for the roll-out is vital to its success. Old habits die hard and there would be nothing worse than witnessing employees gravitating back towards old processes, or failing to welcome or capitalise on the new system.
Training staff before the software is deployed will be important, but you’ll also need to brief them before you invest. Ensure that they can envisage the advantages of the roll-out and are fully on board. Helping them to understand that this will help them complete their day-to-day tasks efficiently is crucial.
Our partner Amethyst Associates notes that employee buy-in was a key component of their software roll-out.
Lisa Miles, MD at Amethyst said : “Always get ’buy in’ to begin with. We’ve seen lots of different approaches to project implementations. Some are very good – others less so – but a project’s success or failure nearly always comes down to the ‘buy in’ from a customer.
“This means speaking to – and getting feedback from – the people who need to be using the product day in, day out – to identify how it can help their problems. Otherwise they won’t feel involved – and the deployment will be doomed from the start.”
Define your objectives
It might seem obvious, but many financial staff neglect to fully consider their business goals when deploying a new finance solution. Make sure you know your core objectives like the back of your hand, and dedicate time to ensuring the vendor or partner understands them too. In this way, your strategies to reach the end-goal are fully aligned, and priorities are defined at an early stage.
The light at the end of the tunnel
The roll-out is always the darkest part of a project, but focus on the light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a tipping point when your software is running smoothly, and you’ll remember that initial buzz you felt when you made the purchase.
From here on in, you will begin to reap the rewards. Whether you experience simplified or automated processes, cost and time savings, enhanced innovation, stronger customer service or increased productivity, the challenges you faced along the way will fade into obscurity.
Prioritise planning and familiarise yourself with the risks and opportunities that arise with this kind of project. If you do, you should find that taking a leap of faith by upgrading your financial software systems will result in you landing safely on your feet.
Harry Mowat is UK MD of Greentree
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