Keeping it simple versus taking short cuts in changing systems

Throughout my career I have been involved in many changes of systems.  The one constant has been that changing systems is a hard, painful and expensive process.  There are no reliable shortcuts.

Unfortunately, I have seen way too many situations where shortcuts have been taken.  The result has lead to chaos, big cost overruns and loss of jobs for those involved.

System vendors often avoid discussing the accounting aspects of their systems because that is where complexities of pulling everything together clearly points to the need for longer schedules and bigger budgets.  When the full cost of changing systems is put on the table, closing the sale becomes a more protracted affair.

Here is a list of short cuts that will virtually doom your system conversion to failure.

#1 Assume that the accounting is the easy part that will just fall into place once all the sales and operational modules are implemented.  That is so completely wrong it hurts.

#2 Accept the notion that the new software will work better than your old software so, even though you can’t see how it works, you trust that you will be able to work out the kinks and shove your square peg into that round hole.

#3 Base your implementation plan on the idea that your existing staff understands how to do effective acceptance testing of programs in their area of responsibility.

#4 Believe that people will indefinitely retain what they learned in early system training.

#5 Believe that your staff has 25% slack in their work week to devote to system training and testing

Successful system conversions means understanding that:

  • the accounting must work, that means the new system must provide better information than you aready have
  • detailed analysis of current systems must be performed and incorporated into the conversion plan
  • staff must be trained not only on the system but on how to acceptance test the system
  • training must be performed proximate to the conversion date
  • significant additional staff cost will be incurred during the conversion

Here is how you keep it simple and avoid taking disastrous short cuts:

Build a team, the size of which depends on the number of functions being covered. If you don’t have all the bases covered with competent employees, pay for professional advice before you choose a system. It will be much cheaper and much more effective.

Be sure that your team leaders are relieved from other responsibilities so that they can focus their energy on a successful implementation.  If that is impossible, then you should not proceed until you feel confident that your team can handle the job.

Define a what a successful implementation will look like and build a conservative budget and schedule around that plan.  If you need help with this, seek a professional with years of experience and many conversions under their belt.  Contact me at jbateman@b2bcfo.com , let me know what you are looking for and I will be happy to give you my thoughts.  Check out our website at www.b2bcfo.com  .  Keys To Team Success

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