The date is May 5, 2017, John – the CFO of an American manufacturing company is giddy and all smiles as he digitally signs the contract of the new budgeting software he wishes to use within his company.
The prices are discounted to a level he is willing to pay; there is a last-minute confirmation via email of the features he needed and wanted, an assurance that this software will address his current enumerated pains and a commitment to the dates of when the project will begin.
Based on previous discussions, the implementation is expected to take 3-4 months all things considered.
Fast forward 18 months, the budgeting software is installed, but the finance team is still not using it. They have not gone live, nor have they attempted to go live in the past months. They are not even close to going live.
John is utterly displeased and has now sent a long email to the consultant explaining his unhappiness and a notice of termination of the contract.
What did John learn from the implementation that failed? What went wrong?
- What Sales Projects may be different from what Implementation Discovers
One of the things John understood a lot later is that most sales people will exaggerate to close the deal. Sales associates most often say yes to a customer´s desires, and then once the contract is signed, their words are then tempered and their promises mellowed.
Another thing is that certain business complexities are not fully grasped and understood unless the implementation begins.
It means that there will always be items that are not considered because it is not possible to foresee before project scoping begins and therefore, may alter the ability of the product to address certain items.
- John Overestimated his Company´s Structure and Processes
Most companies, before going into an implementation think they have a pretty good grasp of their structure and processes. The reality is that when implementation time comes, it is only then they realize how chaotic their current processes are and how lacking their structure is.
An implementation of a new budgeting software is a good opportunity for most busineses to overhaul their entire process and improve the way they structure things. However, not many realize this and those that do are more often than not scared to jump into such big change so they fall into the trap of just automating their current broken process for fear that changing it too much will lead to too many problems. This is a missed opportunity.
- The Skills of the Implementing Consultant is Everything
John thought that he got the winning side of the deal when he was able to lower the hourly consulting costs significantly. What he didn´t realize then is that by lowering the consulting rates by a huge margin, he was given a junior consultant. One that does not have enough years in his or her belt and one that is not able yet to see the general picture when implementing.
While senior consultants are expensive, in the long run, the company can save money. This is because senior consultants usually have more years of experience. Further, if they are good at what they do, they would have found more efficient ways of resolving issues.
John, therefore, learned the hard way not to skimp on consulting rates and to check the reliability of the consultant who will implement because it is all down to the guy who will deploy the budgeting software.
- Implementation time will take longer than Expected. Always.
In the ideal world, the implementation of new software will go as planned with no hitches along the way. In the real world, there will always be problems – both on the product or the ability of the consultant to grasp the business complexity or simply in the availability of both the internal staff and the implementing consultant so always budget enough time because implementations usually encounter delays.
- Difficult decisions are to be made during the Implementation
What many CFOs or finance managers do not realize until deployment begins is that if the implementation of the budgeting software is right, the project will be able to isolate certain bottlenecks and will come up with best practices on how to best resolve them. This consequently means that changes are to be made in order to maximize efficiency and effectivity.
Also, for the process to be streamlined, there will have to be constant evaluiations whether certain rules or exceptions are to be kept or abolished. These things are quite difficult to decide on, especially when these rules or exceptions date back to before the decision maker existed in the organization.
- The trial would have made John understood exactly what he was getting and what he was getting himself into
John did his best in evaluating different solutions. He did everything by the book and gave it his due diligence. However, later on, John realized that some of the redflags he discovered during implementation would have been easily spotted had he signed up for trial.
The problem is that not all budgeting solutions offer a free trial and that in itself should serve as a warning because if they are not able to let you trial with your data, it means you can brace yourself for a long, complicated implementation and perhaps, you can bet that the software is hard to use.
Choose a software that allows you to trial with your data for 30 days or more and experience what it is like to use it firsthand.
If you are looking for a capable budgeting and reporting software in the cloud that has the power to integrate to your existing ERP or line of business systems, find out how Performance Canvas Financials can help by visiting www.performancecanvas.com.
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