Once the decision has been made to invest in a new accounting system, the real fun starts. You can either take the “show up and throw up” approach – and invite as many consultants as possible into your office for free demonstrations. Or you can use a more structured approach that will stack the odds of success squarely in your favor.
Here are some tips to get you started:
# 1 – Focus on Market Leaders
Any accounting system that isn’t one of the top 5, should be eliminated from consideration. The ERP accounting software market is mature. If a system hasn’t yet capture significant market share – it probably won’t.
Exception – I always will look at different niche packages even if they aren’t one of the top sellers. Depending upon what niche you are in, finding a variety of popular packages can be difficult, if not outright impossible.
# 2 – Where Possible Visit The References
Always insist on references. And always visit. Don’t make the mistake that many companies do and forget to ask the references what PARTS of the software they use.
I’ve seen many situations where a company was interested in a billing system and checked references against a user who gave the program glowing reviews. The biggest problem was that the reference did not make use of the billing portion of the software — so their recommendation gave the company a false sense of security.
# 3 – Ask The Consultant – “How Many Of These Have You Done?”
Too many people don’t bother to ask about experience. While a consulting firm may have years of experience with basic general ledger and accounts payable – if they don’t know inventory and order entry and you’re relying on those two modules for critical portions of the implementation – there are likely to be significant problems mid-implementation.
# 4 – “We’ll do that in phase 2” = We hope you won’t ask us to actually make that module work because we’re not sure how it fits into your needs.
The biggest red flag in all of consulting is “phase two” promises. Often the toughest portion of the engagement is pushed off to phase two. If the second phase is important, require that a portion of the contract fee be held back until it’s completed.
# 5 – Engage Your Consultant for a Pilot Test
A paid Pilot Test configures a not-for-resale copy of the software to your system specifications. If you have any doubts about the trickier areas of program use – this is where to iron them out. And what better time to iron out these types of problems than BEFORE you purchase the software and commit to significant (and expensive) training.
The vast majority of accounting software implementations turn out just fine. By following these tips you gain an edge in making sure that your’s turns out the same.