Worst Mistakes When Buying Accounting Software
A recent LinkedIn thread from a group which I follow had a discussion of the worst mistakes seen in buying accounting software systems. It sure brought back a lot of memories. As an implementation specialist for 20 years, I had seen them all! Here are some that were mentioned most
1 - Relying on the sales team's promises as to how the system will perform for you.
This is a great point. Not to say that the vendors misrepresent their product, but implying that certain problems will be resolved without empirical testing can be a bit of a stretch. That is why in our “Accounting Software Change Roadmap” article on the Articles page of AccountingSoftwareSuccess.com you’ll find a reference to a Conference Room Pilot. In this step, processes are fully tested and documented before going live. IN this manner, areas that need tweaking or don’t perform as anticipated can be revised before going live.
2 - Not reviewing and improving processes prior to buying accounting software
Another great point. Sometimes processes need to be refined and improved from an organizational perspective, regardless of the software implementation! Other times process change will come as a result of utilizing improved functionality within the system (document management or workflow approvals, for instance). Either way, this is a great time to get the teams together and review how process improvements can be made. Further, use your implementation partner as a resource as to how their other clients have had success (or not so much!) using different approaches. Review “Accounting Software Solutions – Things To Think Of Before You Buy” at AccountingSoftwareSuccess.com for some good ideas.
3 - Making the new system act exactly like the old system
This is always a tempting this to do as we are all comfortable with the familiar, and change is hard! But don’t miss the opportunity to utilize your new system to the fullest. It’s all about the ROI. Your new software is an investment, and to get the most from it you must be willing to expand your boundaries, even if it stretches your comfort zone. Review “Choosing An Implementation Partner for your New Accounting System” at AccountingSoftwareSuccess.com for some additional ideas on how to overcome this temptation.

4 - Lack of project management and resource dedication (people, money, time)
Again your software implementation is an investment, and you’ll need to budget enough to get the results you need. We all want to save money, but cutting corners on design, planning, training, and implementation can cost you in the long run. You may need to assign internal and external project management members, involve multiple teams to get complete input on the initial design, have champions to help the organization embrace the new system, and train power users in each area to make sure users have a knowledgeable resource to call on. But all this investment will insure a successful, smooth implementation and maximum ROI for your new system. Review “Implementation Checklist For New Accounting Software” at AccountingSoftwareSuccess.com for additional information on proper steps required for your success.
5 - Relying on the new system to fix your processes
Related to 1, 2, and 3 above. Software cannot fix broken business models. A competent implementation partner will assist in working through the process issues, and be candid about the software’s inability to accommodate outdated, inefficient, or inappropriate processes. Take the opportunity to learn how to improve your processes, and how the system will assist in increasing efficiencies related to these efforts. Please “Determining Your Accounting Software Needs” at AccountingSoftwareSuccess.com for some good ideas.
6 - Giving up on the project once there is a bump in the road
Hopefully, you’re not expecting an issue free process. There is no such thing. Both you and your implementation partner should be candid about that, and this should be communicated to all stakeholders and constituents. You don’t want to be alarming, just practical. Bumps will occur. The best approach is to agree that everyone will work as hard and act reasonably in an effort to address and overcome them. Both customers and consultants make mistakes or encounter unforeseen issues. Getting angry and pointing fingers solves nothing. Focusing on the problem until it’s resolved should be an agreed upon approach before those issues arise. Review and implement the steps outlined in our “Accounting Software Change Roadmap” at www.AccountingSoftwareSuccess.com to assist in avoiding this issue.
That’s a good start on what can upset the apple cart during your transition to a new system. But all these issues are foreseeable and should be proactively addressed prior to embarking on your project. Doing so will save money, stress, frustrations, and hurt feelings. Proactive planning will help insure a smooth and successful implementation – not only ultimately, but throughout the process.

Author's Bio: 

John S. Francis graduated with his MBA from Southern Illinois University- Carbondale in 1985. Since that time he has worked in various accounting professions. From 1996 to 2009, he was founder and President of one of the country’s leading accounting software implementation firms. Acknowledged as a “Top 100 Technology Pacesetter” and a “Killer VAR” by Accounting Today magazine, and a “Top 100 Value Added Reseller” by Accounting Technology magazine, his firm successfully managed accounting system implementation and training engagements for thousands of clients worldwide. In 2009 he began working on accountingsoftwaresuccess.com, a site dedicated to assisting accounting professionals with their search, selection, implementation and use of accounting systems.