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Running a business

Committing to changing systems

Change is good, especially when it can help you achieve more in dramatically less time. To successfully implement a new system, you need to invest time in advance to ensure you map out your new processes. This will ensure the transition goes smoothly. At my firm, we help accounting professionals do this every day. Innovation is critical to remain competitive, increase your bottom line and leverage your resources.

How many times in business have you downloaded the latest app, bought the latest gadget or signed up to the newest tool in the hope that it will solve all of our problems?

We are always researching new tools, apps and systems to solve our business problems. You can easily get burned if you take the leap without planning for a significant change in your systems. The problem is, just like with dieting, there are no shortcuts. Many systems fit our needs, but they only work if we commit to implementation, learning the new system and using the new system.

I have compiled some of our best practices with everything you need to know: the common questions, the stumbling blocks and what our clients wish they’d known before moving forward.

Why implementations fail

The number one reason new systems fail is the failure to commit to the change. You get stuck in your old ways and not taking enough time to learn to the new system. I mention this first, not to discourage you but to warn you, so you don’t waste money if you are not ready to fully commit.

If you do not allocate enough time to learning the new system from the start, you will likely not get to it later. There is no time better than the present.

Importance of pre-planning

Before you start migrating to a new system, make sure you’re prepared and fully aware of what’s involved. Failing to list out what you want to get from a new system before implementation can cause you to miss out on important functionality because you haven’t determined exactly what you need.

Make a checklist; here are some items to consider:

  • Make a list of the business problems and current systems you want to fix with a new system, such as automation (be specific as possible and keep it simple).
  • Arrange the issues in the order of importance.
  • Determine who will be responsible for implementation and who should have access.
  • What date do you want to go live with this change?
  • Make a list of any information you need to migrate to the new system.
  • Schedule the date to shut down the old system.
  • Set aside time to learn the new system.

Communicate with your team

A smooth transition starts with preparing your staff for change and guiding them through the process. Start by communicating why you are moving to a new system. It is important to get on the same page with your team and ensure they are buying into using the new system. Each person is likely to have unique ideas and suggestions. It’s a good idea to get input in the planning stages and make adjustments as you go along, based feedback from your team.

Some will try to avoid change no matter what. If that happens, you need to be firm and committed to the new system. If you don’t adopt it, it will be more challenging to get your team to commit.

Making the final decisions

Take advantage of free trials to determine if you like a new software program. This will give you time to consider what features you like, if it is easy to use and how many features meet your needs. The change should be as painless as possible.

Remember why you are considering a major change: the new system will save you time and streamline your tasks, enabling you to add more productive hours in your workday. If all of this planning is overwhelming, you always have the option to work with an expert to implement a solution for your business needs and will help you throughout the process.

Going live

Ideally, you should have a transition period in order to test the new system and avoid missing anything out. Choose a date that is realistic and make sure you allow time for the transition. Time flies, so give yourself a few weeks or even a couple of months to complete the transition. At various points after implementation, you should analyze the results for the new system. The more you know, the more you’ll get out of the new system.

Once in place, stick to the plan. It can be easy to get off track and fall back on the "old way" of doing things. But, if you stay consistent, then the new system will become second nature.

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