Accounting Software Implementations

Herrera & Associates, CPAs provides information technology consulting assistance including advising the government on system set up, advising on system design changes, testing system design, and providing installation and training assistance to municipalities.

We have experience with Eden Inforum Gold, Sungard/H.T.E., ForFund, American Fundware, Springbrook, and other municipal accounting software implementations.

Our focus is on implementing accounting software applications following best management practice.

The following software implementation checklist is important to consider before you commence an accounting software implementation project.

  1. Manage the project, do not let it manage you. The overriding differentiating factor for successful accounting system implementations is disciplined project management and the most important characteristic of a project manager is communication.

  2. Identify the stakeholders. Figure out who has a stake in the project, who will have input, and who will make the decisions. If you take time early in the project to identify decision makers, and the customers of the project, then developing the objectives, making decisions, and executing the project will be much more straightforward and effective. Recognize there will likely be many different stakeholder groups - and some may have competing interests.

  3. Agree on system objectives. State the information system objectives in clear business oriented terms and in achievable phases. Associating the project’s objectives with the business goals will help keep the project on track and focused on business effectiveness. Setting the objectives in phases allows the project to deliver in digestible portions and adjust subsequent processes or goals as necessary.

  4. Determine your budget. Gain agreement, state the total overall budget, and the budget by phase. There should be no ambiguity here. Include expenditures, training, customizations, consulting, hardware, infrastructure, etc. Communicate variances with each reporting cycle. Most accounting systems implementations exceed the original budget at most organizations, and too many municipalities forget to budget sufficient budget for training the staff. Take this all too common overage into account and be prepared to go back to the City Manager or Council for approval.

  5. Agree on the timeline. Just as with the budget, ambiguity is your enemy. Gain clear agreement on the phased schedule as well as the overall timeframe. Get input from all affected parties and stakeholders. Account for vacations, busy seasons, cyclical business events, long-term leaves, etc. Republish the schedule as changes are made to make it a living document. Only a very small percentage of accounting software system implementation projects are completed on schedule so plan for schedule changes and updates.

  6. Determine the project team. Figure out who is responsible for the execution of each portion of the project, identifying the staff from each department who will take ownership. Make sure they know they are responsible and make sure that each stakeholder area is represented. Responsibilities should be clearly communicated along with the authority to execute.

  7. Systemically execute the project plan. The plan will be structured to match the phased objectives and should contain communication standards and change management protocols. The plan should include regular status reporting and accommodate changes as the plan progresses.

  8. Confirm project objectives. Frequently forgotten in the heat of the moment, make sure that you go back and confirm or reconfirm that objectives were met. Celebrate the wins and adjust your process to avoid the misses.

  9. Sample your conversion data early in the cycle. Legacy data conversion is frequently a major cause of project delays and cost overruns. Make sure with Finance and other departments whether data conversion is critical in their accounting software implementation, many times the answer is no. Consider taking a minimalist approach to conversion and maintaining a separate database for legacy historical reporting.

  10. Ensure adequate user training. As mentioned above, a recurring factor that limits the success and adoption of new accounting software systems is training. Training is one of the first line items to be negotiated out of a project plan in order to meet schedule and budget requirements.

  11. Plan for change. As stated above, most accounting and ERP software projects of this type miss their original budgets and schedule. Be prepared for change and agree on a method for approving and communicating changes.

  12. Proactively manage the project. Yes, it is on this list twice and yes, it is that important. If you do not have staff who can spend over 50% of their time on implementation of the accounting software, call Herrera & Associates, CPAs for professional assistance for these projects.