It is only a couple of months into a new year, and the business is already behind the painstakingly created budget. Why is this happening? What are the main drivers? How can this be remedied to get the business back on track? All of these are reasonable questions that a financial system should be able to solve. If the answers to these questions are not readily available, then it could be a sign that your legacy financial system is no longer fit for purpose.
The first step is to identify whether your business needs this change and can make the time and monetary investment to make the most of it.
Once you have decided that your financial system could use an upgrade, we at Craig Corporate have noticed the following 4 attributes of successful system projects that you could consider on your own implementation journey.
Impact of change
“Change is hard because people overestimate the value of what they have and underestimate the value of what they may gain by giving that up.” James Belasco and Ralph Stayer
Fear of the unknown and clinging to past success can often be major blockers when identifying the need for change. Your business has had historical success and the thought being that a change in finance system would jeopardise this. When in fact the opposite is often true.
Legacy systems have often been installed many years ago and suited the business at the time. As a business grows, it undoubtably evolves, whether that be through an evolution of the product or service on offer or an expansion into new markets. A finance system needs to be able to cope with this malleable nature of business strategy, not only in the short to medium term, but also in the long term.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” Alan Lakein
The decision has been made that the legacy financial system is no longer fit for purpose. However, the market for ERP / financial systems is large and it is only growing bigger as the need for this service becomes ever more prevalent. So how do you go about separating the “wheat from the chaff”?
Take the time to plan out your business needs, this will ultimately drive the choice of which provider to go for. Map out the business processes and flows from end to end, making sure they are as clear as possible as this will help the systems teams understand your business and whether they can provide an efficient solution.
Do your research. What systems do your competitors use? Are their systems in a better position to serve the business? Which systems are more common in your industry? Do any of your business partners e.g. corporate advisors, auditors, lawyers, know of any success stories from other clients that may be relevant in making your decision?
Once you have a shortlist of suppliers who look like they will be able to satisfy your business needs, you can organise demos/walk throughs with the companies directly. Taking extra time at this stage to get the best option for your business is well worth it, as it will ensure you have the best fit system for your business and could well save time later in the project if you can avoid costly customisation to a system which is not right for your business.
“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Peter Senge
The success of any project, not just systems implementation, is arguably down to the people involved. Not only the decision makers and the project team but the people who will be directly affected by the change; the users of the new system.
It cannot be overstated how much the opinion of your staff matters when implementing change of any sort. In the successful implementations that we have seen, the staff have been brought on board and are part of the build of the system, always being reminded of how this change will positively impact them.
It could be advantageous to arrange the users into groups, identifying key testers within these groups that will drive opinion. It should be noted that new systems are not “magic”, it should always be made clear that a new system is unlikely to do everything they want, but it will make their work easier to complete and has the potential to solve problems they encounter with the current system.
The users of the systems should be heavily involved in the planning of the system/implementation, ensuring that all processes have been accounted for and helping them feel involved in the project. If a user feels like they have a stake in how a new system performs, they are more likely to embrace the change and its associated benefits.
“Powerful and sustained change requires constant communication, not only throughout the rollout but after the major elements of the plan are in place. The more kinds of communication employed, the more effective they are.” DeAnne Aguirre
As mentioned above, communication with key stakeholders during the planning stage is very important and allows you to plan out not only the implementation but also the system build.
Once the project has begun, communication to the business is vital. This is not to say that daily updates are required either. A delicate balance between keeping your business up to date and not bombarding them with the same information day after day should be observed. Keeping your stakeholders up to date will help them continue to feel engaged and involved in the project.
“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.” – C. S. Lewis
Any sort of change can be a daunting prospect for a business and the same can be said for a change in finance system.
However, for a business to thrive and grow, change is inevitable.
If you find that you are behind budget after only a short time. If you cannot get the information that you need in order to make educated decisions. Then it might be time to consider whether your financial system is fit for purpose and what impact a change in this area could bring to your business.
We at Craig Corporate have a wealth of experience in identifying needs for change and we would be happy to help you and your business reflect on whether a change in system would give you the answers you need.
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