If you and your organization have decided that it is time to change over your accounting system your first question may be, “when can I start”?
The quick answer? You can start now.
The more nuanced answer? It’s best to complete your system changeover to coincide with the end of a fiscal year, but to begin the process 6 – 9 months ahead of that. For organizations for which this is a board decision, or are large, the process takes longer. For organizations that are very small, it is quicker. It will likely take at least a month to set up your system once a system has been selected, approved, purchased and installed. The select-approve-purchase-install process can take anywhere from a few days (atypically) to a couple of months – for board-driven organizations, usually about three months.
Once installed, the system must be set up and configured. This will include designing a chart of accounts based upon how your organization wants the reports to look when they come out at the end. Designing a robust chart of accounts creates the report structure and room for expansion without merely copying over the previous structure. It can be as basic as housecleaning or as significant as true organizational design.
Next, it is essential to get a clean starting point – the beginning balances. If your previous accounting system and/or procedure was producing messy reports in the first place, this is often the largest challenge.
From there it is time for configuration of payroll, budgets, and basic data entry to bring the new accounting system into sync with the previous one.
After all the configuration is complete, it is good to take the time for adequate staff training and testing of the system while it runs in parallel with the previous system. This allows any quirks to be worked out before your organization becomes dependent on the new system. Once all the training is complete, it is best to run the testing phase for around 3 months to make sure everything is running smoothly.
All of this can be timed to position your organization to be fully in the new system by the end of the fiscal year so that your new fiscal year begins with the new system – and you already have your full year of accounting data in it, so you can begin your longer-term budgeting process with your new system right away!
Design Group International can help streamline and simplify this process for you and help you design a path toward a new accounting system. We have experience with a variety of different software packages. Interested? Click the link below to get in contact with us to continue the conversation.