It feels a little like you bought a dump truck when you could have just purchased a wheelbarrow, and there’s no return policy in sight!
What do you do now?
How do you even begin to start the process of downgrading to an easier to use accounting software system? Follow these steps to get back on track!
1. Identify Problems
Figuring out what isn’t working is a vital first step.
Identify your pain points by talking to all the users of your existing software system. This doesn’t mean simply chatting with your business partner about your biggest gripes, it means thoroughly cataloging every issue your employees are experiencing.
If you have an in-house accounts payable and receivable person, they are a great resource to better understand what needs to be fixed. Don’t just stop there. Start an open conversation with all the users of your accounting system to find out what’s broken, what’s inefficient, what they wish they could improve, and which features would make their day-to-day lives easier. Give them ownership in the process by asking for recommendations for different solutions (if they have them) and then evaluate the feasibility of continuing to use your existing system versus switching platforms.
Keep in mind that the problem isn’t always the software itself! Sometimes user error or lack of user training is to blame for the frustration your business is experiencing. Being open to that as a possibility is critical in determining whether you truly need to switch accounting software, or whether you can improve your use of your existing solution.
Staffing problems are sometimes at the root of the issue because key personnel have left or the person who originally set up the system had more experience than your daily users, which has created a mismatch of usability expectations.
Other times, a business’s needs may have changed over time, and their accounting software couldn’t keep up. This tends to happen more frequently when businesses make big changes like scaling up operations, expanding to new regions, or moving between cash and accrual accounting. In these cases, the accounting software that’s being used may be wonderfully suited for its original use, but its inability to keep up with big changes makes it nonviable for continued use.
Simply put, your business may outgrow it’s accounting software, and the workarounds you’ve developed are just acting as band aids to fix a platform that doesn’t fit anymore. In this scenario, there are likely more user-friendly options for you to consider that will meet your specific business needs.
Once you know what’s broken, you can start looking for a better solution.
2. Find the Right Solution
The biggest mistake that businesses make when moving to a new accounting software is choosing a system that has all the bells and whistles their existing solution lacks. The result is that they get a “better” solution, but not necessarily one that fits their needs any better. Then, they end up right back where they started – going through the odious task of trying to find a new platform in another year or so. This vicious cycle is a waste of time and resources!
Avoid this accounting death spiral by doing thorough research to determine whether a new system will fit the nuances of your business. Don’t feel rushed to make a decision and don’t gloss over important needs just because a solution checks most of the boxes. Remember that one accounting software may be “easier” for most users than another, but that doesn’t mean it will be easier for your specific business.
If possible, do a trial run using real data and get essential employees signed up for trial accounts as well so that you can get multiple feedback points. Understand what the learning curve will look like and prepare employees for the change by giving them the time in their schedules to learn at a reasonable pace. Find out what kind of training is offered to get employees on-boarded, and understand the time frame for getting fully up and running. Then, determine who will “own” the new system and be responsible for ongoing professional development related to staying abreast of changes.
If the culture at your business tends to be more resistant to change, you may be met with internal friction. Overcoming this is essential to getting employees to embrace the new system and stay productive.
Knowing ahead of time how you’ll manage the change will make it smoother process for everyone involved!
3. Bring in the Right Personnel
What if you could fix your existing accounting system without any additional investment of time and only a minimal additional cost? Does that sound too good to be true? Well, it’s not!
Sometimes, the best way to improve your accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll functions is just to bring in a professional. Small businesses are typically resistant to this idea because they worry about the costs associated with doing so. While hiring a full-time accounting expert is quite costly, bringing a part-time bookkeeper or accountant on board to help is much more affordable. This solution works because, unlike your business partners or your other employees, a bookkeeper only has to learn your specific business, not the accounting principles and acumen behind it.
The best part about hiring someone for specific accounting functions on a per hour basis, is that he/she can act as a sort of “emergency accountant” if you’re experiencing a one-time crisis. This is a huge relief for business owners who are facing an audit, need to file and pay back taxes, or have key financial personnel leave unexpectedly.
Hopefully you have a better understanding of when, why, and how you should downgrade to simpler accounting software. If you have any additional questions, please give us a call! We can discuss your accounting needs and tailor an affordable solution to help your business run smoothly again!
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