8 Secrets of Successful Software Implementations

Changing accounting systems is akin to having a heart transplant.  Your mission critical system is ripped out of your business and replaced with a new one.  And while all of this invasive surgery is being performed, someone has to keep the lifeblood flowing.

Accounting is at the core of almost every critical activity that happens in your winery and serves to keep cash flowing through your healthy business.  No wonder there is stress involved in changing systems.

But the stress needn’t be life threatening.  With proper advanced planning, you can minimize the disruption to your business and ease the pain for your staff.

Here are eight secrets to making this vital operation as painless as possible.

1. Get Executive Support

Management must be visible and vocal about their support for the project. They must be willing to accommodate flexible work schedules and extra hours if needed to complete the project.

2. Designate an internal project lead.  (And if possible a backup person to support them.)

This person should have an understanding of your business processes and accounting. In addition, they should have a good relationship with members of other departments (sales, vineyard management, cellar and production, marketing, etc.)  They will be charged with learning the application and holding others accountable for successful adherence to project goals and timelines.

3. Invest in adequate training for your team.

Accounting is a mission critical application requiring special knowledge. It is imperative that team members are properly trained in the use of the application and supported in their roles as they make the transition to a new system.  Short cutting the process or saving budget dollars by offering only a minimum amount of training can lead to frustration, stress, and ultimately inefficiencies and even inaccurate data.

4. Make sure you have considered all of the stakeholders in planning and selecting the application you are implementing.

Failure to consider the needs of every stakeholder in the software selection process will lead to team frustration and unhappiness during the implementation process.  Make sure that you have considered the needs of all departments in the software selection process so that everyone who is dependent on application inputs or outputs has a voice in the solution specifications. There is nothing worse than implementing a system only to find out that one or two critical features were omitted from project specifications.

5. Scrub any data you will be converting to the new system

Converting bad data from an old system to a new one can reduce the value of the new system.  Instead, take the time to clean up any duplicate data and fill in any missing or incomplete information.  In the event that you have data that needs to be mapped or reconfigured, your implementation team can help automate and simplify that process.

6. Consider your reporting needs

Design your new system to support the reporting needs of key members of your organization.  Make sure to consider not only financial statement reporting but also managerial information including sales, operations, and nonfinancial measurements (like visitor counts, etc.)  You will want to add sufficient account numbers and meaningful dimensions to accommodate the needs of all departments in your business.

7. Spend adequate time testing sample data before going live.

Make sure your team is comfortable performing basic tasks and have walked through numerous scenarios from beginning to end. They should understand for example not only how to enter an accounts payable invoice but should also be able to trace it through the journals and onto a financial statement and back.  They should be comfortable with adjustments and corrections as well as month end and year end closing procedures.

8. Document your standard procedures

Many perceived software problems are actually due to undocumented or unclear policies and procedures. If you do not already have written policies and procedures, you might want to capture those during the implementation process, along with any special work flow steps that will be followed in your TeraVina application.

Note: Image via roobcio on istockphoto.com