Moving your reporting, payroll, receivables, payables and a thousand different financial figures from one system to another — without messing anything up — is an incredibly challenging task. Fortunately, companies that take the time to prepare properly are more successful and experience much less stress than those that try to migrate without a solid plan.
The truth is that you simply can’t do enough preparation for a move. With that in mind, here are five key ways to prepare for a successful migration to financial accounting software.
- Clean up your data: Don’t bring messy data into a nice clean system; if you do, you’re running the risk of making the same kinds of errors your spreadsheet system made. Instead, spend time to remove misspelled words, unwanted prefixes and other silly mistakes that are easy to fix, but take a long time and a careful eye to spot. Use “find and replace” to search for double entries. Eliminate blank rows. Remember, it’s important to back up your data before trying to “fix” anything; you can never be too careful. Some third-party providers also offer data cleansing as a paid service. If your information is particularly messy, it might be a good idea to hire someone to fix it for you.
- Organize your current spreadsheet system: Evaluate your current workflows and internal processes and determine if they’re in order or even necessary. It’s a good idea to only import the data you actually need into your new system. Old data, such as previous customer information, may not be necessary to import into your new system.
- Improve your existing financial processes: Any time you’re going to put your information into a financial accounting system, the best thing you can do is perform a process improvement. If you’ve done something simply because that’s the way you’ve always done it and not because it’s the best way to do it, it’s time to rethink how to best change the process. Consider workflow, information storage, permissions and backup procedures as places to evaluate and improve. Where do you store receipts? What are the requirements of your approval process? Now is the time to work out the bugs in the entire financial management process.
- Make sure the timing for the movement is perfect: From an internal business standpoint, timing is everything. Even in the best of circumstances, a migration effort is going to be disruptive. That’s why for retailers it’s probably a good idea to avoid migrating during the busy holiday season. Companies in the financial services industry, on the other hand, will want to stay clear from the end of the fiscal year or during tax season. Always pick a time that’s conducive to the business where the internal resources and business process owners might be more readily available. They’ll need time and mental capacity to manage the move.
- Pick a champion: Many cloud providers have discovered the migration process goes smoother if the company has a person within the business who is responsible for the success of the migration. They’ll be the expert and a go-between for the provider.
Here’s the bottom line: The best way to make a successful migration is to find a software vendor that makes the transition as easy as possible. Quality providers will work with you to make these painful processes a bit easier for everyone involved. While no migration is easy, it doesn’t have to be a daunting task that everyone in your organizations dreads.