General Inquiries

Successful Accounting Software Implementation

  • 1.  Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 01-18-2019 14:11
    Hello all! I've been working for the past 8 years on various aspects of accounting for construction of all flavors. We got involved 6 years ago with Vista by Viewpoint, and are coming up on our 40th implementation of their software around the US and Canada. With their acquisition of Dexter & Chaney, we decided to begin Spectrum implementations as well, and just finished our second implementation. Some of these went well; some went poorly! As we begin the new year, I wanted to distill some of the lessons we've learned. Specifically, what constitutes a successful accounting system change?

    I thought of this group--collectively you've been through many switches and have seen the good (and the bad) in pulling out the central nervous system of a company.

    1. What makes an implementation "good"?
    2. What is critical vs. what is nice-to-have?
    etc.

    I'm attempting to make a coherent document to share with the group with the hopes that it will be helpful for others. Thanks in advance!

    ------------------------------
    Michael Kelley
    President
    Silvertrek Systems LLC
    Battle Ground WA
    (360) 667-3340
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 01-21-2019 15:30
      |   view attached

    From the perspective of SPECIALTY Contractors, this is the bare minimum that we found critical.

    (NOTE: I attached a sample of a scope matrix for a medium sized specialist)

    1. Cost of implementation is GMP to protect from overages
    2. Separate testing environment
    3. Detailed schedule with scope, responsibilities, due dates for each task 
    4. Clear scope assignments (attached sample)
    5. Avoiding parallel implementation
    6. Post cut-off data entry
    7. Completion of material items database to customer spec
    8. Accuracy of data migration
    9. Completeness of data validation after migration
    10. Successful tie-off of accounting/WIP
    11. Payroll matched to the penny
    12. Job cost and budget entry and validation
    13. Accuracy of any manual data entry, such historical AIA details to ensure accurate retention billing
    14. Completeness of GAP resolution prior to go-live
    15. Dry run of workflows
    16. Completeness of forms, APIs, links/imports/exports prior to go-live
    17. Effective training
    18. Utilization tracking to maximize ensure maximum
    19. Customized learning guides and videos with customer data
    20. Speed of support response and issue resolution
    21. Speed of support for emergency GAP resolution of GAPs not previously discovered
    22. Financial reporting review and sign off
    23. Software performs as it was sold and features fit all roles


    ------------------------------
    Chad Pearson
    Director of Business Development
    Plexxis
    chad@plexxis.com
    Brampton ON
    (416) 574-1677
    ------------------------------



  • 3.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 01-23-2019 23:50
    Thanks for bringing up this topic Michael. Chad, nice list of goals/objectives for the transition to a new ERP.

    My company owners are finally beginning to get comfortable with the idea of leaving American Contractor, so this topic is timely as we evaluate the main players.
    Foundation is looking very promising so far.

    The migration and implementation to a new ERP will no doubt be a challenge and I am eager to learn about what makes a successful, smooth transition.

    ------------------------------
    Adam O'Donnell
    Controller
    Fontenoy Engineering, Inc.
    San Francisco CA
    (415) 740-0268
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  • 4.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 01-24-2019 09:05
    ​Michael -

    Here's my two cents on the matter.

    1. What makes an implementation good?

    THE TEAM! The people who will be using the program the most need to be involved from the very beginning so they can begin to get an idea of all of the parts and pieces and how they fit together. Their attitudes towards the program are going to make all of the difference. Get the team hyped about the transition and they will want to make it work. Don't let a bad apple ruin it for the rest! Also, the team that the software company brings to the implementation matters too! During our implementation, we had a very fun, knowledgeable group from the software company. We did some after-hours bonding and got to know each other outside of a business setting. It made the process fun; we did a lot of laughing while working and that's very important during a stressful week of implementing new software.

    2. Needs vs. wants

    The list Chad provided is wonderful. I would say the accuracy of data is the most critical. If all of your data is accurate, everything else should fall into place. Granted, there will be bumps in the road along the way, but those bumps should be easy to smooth out as the pop up. If a software company already has a strong client list, it should be easy for them to replicate the setup (especially for union contractors who all have to follow the same guidelines!) It's also critical to have a strong support staff, not just for the first few weeks of implementation, but for the year or two following the implementation. Maybe you will be able to reach out to other clients and ask if they receive the same support from the software company on day 1000 as they did on day one. {For example, if you implement new software in the middle of the year, you want to know that you'll be able to reach out and get fast responses 6 months from then when you're trying to close out your financials, calculate taxes, run W-2's, etc.} Like any new relationship, things seem much more shiny and appealing in the beginning than they do after the "honeymoon phase".

    At the end of the day, any type of migration you do is going to be complicated and tough. There's just no way to avoid that first big, lumpy hurdle. However, as long as your key employees are on board and willing to work through the issues and as long as you have a strong partnership with your software company, you should be able to get through anything! We are a year and a half into our new software and there is no way I would go back to the way we were doing things before despite whatever hiccups arise. Onward and upward!

    Hope this helps!

    ------------------------------
    Alysha Martin
    Acct. Admin
    Valley Interior Systems
    Cincinnati OH
    (419) 425-2228
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  • 5.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 01-24-2019 09:28
    Great point Alysha on the post install service.
    That is critical...and just as critical, is to make sure that all that time and effort required AFTER go-live is included at no extra cost on contract.

    The software vendor should own the results of the implementation.  It will be rough, especially during the 1st month end, 1st quarterly and 1st year end but if the vendor owns and cares for the results, they will be there for you.

    It literally is a marriage.

    And Alysha is bang on regarding the team...VIS is an exceptional example of this.   Any company can perform when things go well but a great TEAM perseveres in the kind of struggle that tears low performers apart.

    We have a risk mitigation list as well - email me if anyone is interested.

    Great discussion - These get me all AMPED up!!! no need for coffee today ;)

    ------------------------------
    Chad Pearson
    Director of Business Development
    Plexxis
    Brampton ON
    (416) 574-1677
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 01-24-2019 14:24
    Wow, thanks for the replies! Chad, that's a nice, detailed list you have. It's obvious you're in the trenches!

    Adam, good luck on the transition--although luck has less to do with it than preparation and perspiration! I'm sure all will go well.

    Alysha, the points you make are incredible. The emphasis on the team and on the post-go-live support is inspiring. It really makes a difference.

    Thank you all for the responses!

    ------------------------------
    Michael Kelley
    President
    Silvertrek Systems LLC
    Battle Ground WA
    (360) 667-3340
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 01-31-2019 12:05
    Love the list Chad!

    I have been implementing the Accounting side of Vista for about 8 years and this list is spot on!

    Some items I always hit on during my first onsite are:

    1.  Internal Ownership - The customer has to have at least one person who is going to take ownership of the implementation from the inside.  The Consultant will not be there every week and someone needs to keep the team moving and hold weekly or biweekly meetings in order to go over the Project schedule and homework items to keep things fresh and moving.  As a Consultant, it often feels like Groundhog Day when I get back onsite because I am repeating almost everything I said the previous visit.  I worked for Viewpoint for 6 years and would cycle back to my customers only every 4 to 6 weeks for one week at a time.  This does not provide the continuity needed to push the project forward without the Internal Ownership piece.  I am now an Independent Consultant and can control the schedule more to mitigate these risks.  I like consecutive weeks especially during training and testing.

    2.  Balance Forward Data Conversion - Most of my customers go with a Balance Forward approach so I don't have to get my Data Conversion team involved and I can manage the process myself.  I consider this to be a mini implementation on it's own and it needs to be planned and tested throughout the implementation period.  I have been in situations where we are on the last onsite before Go Live and the customer still doesn't have a plan for how they are going to get their PR Employee Accumulations out of their legacy system or what Jobs they are going to bring over and at what level of detail.

    3.  Process Testing - This has already been touched on, but can't be mentioned enough as far as I am concerned.  Every user needs to make sure they are functionally literate in Vista.  I preach it from day 1 - "Look at every thing you are currently doing in your system and ask yourself Do I know how to do this in Vista?"  The purpose of configuring the Test Company is so that the users can functionally test their processes with real setups and data that means something to them.

    4.  No Small Players - I managed Accounting departments for years prior to getting in to the software side and know that every player has something to contribute to the process.  I have seen customers make the mistake of implementing using only Senior or Lead players and thus they miss the needs of their day to day processors.  I use the approach of doing initial configuration with Sr or Leads so that we can roll out a foundation that is 85% to 90% solid to the end users, thus preventing them getting frustrated with errors or missing base information.  Then give the end user an appropriate amount of time to test and give input to fill out that last missing %.  I also suggest bringing in Temps to do filing or misc "busy work" so that the staff can have a couple of hours a week to spend time in Vista.

    5.  Continuity of Support Team - This too has been touched on already, but worth repeating.  It is in the Top 5 of complaints that I have heard from customers over the years.  One of the greatest things about being independent now is that I know I can see my customer all the way through the implementation and support them after as well.  In the past, I was often pulled off a customer to go put out a fire elsewhere, then back-filled with a different Consultant.  The Customer is left having to adjust to a new person and often repeating a lot of what they told the previous person.  Chad compared it to a marriage and I often compare it to a pregnancy.  You don't want to have one doctor all the way through the process and then suddenly some new doctor shows up to deliver the baby.  The bottom line is that there is a relationship formed there and, provided it's a good one, maintaining it is critical.

    I just joined CFMA and love the discussion.

    ------------------------------
    Dawn Shockey
    Vista Accounting Consultant
    Vancouver WA
    15037201247
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  • 8.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 02-01-2019 10:39

    Thanks Dawn! That is a great list.

    Process testing is an important part of an implementation. I've found it also very often gets put on the back shelf as people are struggling through their everyday worklife and their added responsibilities with the switchover. Have you found effective ways to learn a new system other than just gritting your teeth and diving in? Any tips for those switching? 



    ------------------------------
    Michael Kelley
    President
    Silvertrek Systems LLC
    Battle Ground WA
    (360) 667-3340
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Successful Accounting Software Implementation

    Posted 02-01-2019 12:13

    I am an advocate for "grit the teeth and dive in"

    There are so many nuances to just getting an AP Invoice entered, approved, posted and paid.  I think the only way to really ensure that the user is ready and that configuration is complete is to parallel the processes.

    I always suggest that they develop process workflows of their "As Is" process before having their first onsite.  The Lead person of that Dept has a meeting with all the end users and they document how they do their process.  9 times out of 10 they are not all doing things the same way.  This allows them to get on the same page prior to having a Consultant onsite.  Then when I get there, I can work with the Lead to create the "To Be" process and eventually role that back out to the end user for process testing.  I am also a big advocate for Accounting and Operations doing a joint Process Training event.  There is almost always a gap between Office and Field in every implementation I do, so I try to get small groups together to actually see how the data flows in the system which hopefully helps them understand each other's piece of the puzzle.




    ------------------------------
    Dawn Shockey
    Vista Accounting Consultant
    Vancouver WA
    15037201247
    ------------------------------