Organizational Management: Changing Over an Accounting System

Posted by Matthew Thomas

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.

Desk Calculator, Accounting SystemAfter 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.


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Topics: Matthew Thomas, Design Group International, Financial System Conversion

Organizational Management: Choosing an Accounting System

Posted by Matthew Thomas

It’s getting to be that time of year: as the year winds to a close, if you are a business or non-profit leader in charge of financial oversight, you know that it will soon be time to file reports – reports to taxing bodies, reports to regulators or professional organizations with which you maintain accountability, shareholders, members, donors, constituents, employees, the board, and, of course, your boss. The ease with which you and those who work with you prepare these reports and the basic form of those reports depends greatly on your accounting system and how you have configured it.

Desk Calculator, Accounting SystemWhile some organizations are small enough to use a spreadsheet program to track revenue and expenses and create reports, no organization that really intends to do well is small enough to only use handwritten records. Computers make fewer mathematical errors than humans do; the main place for error in a computer-based system is in data entry, instead of data entry and math, as it is for handwritten records.

Most good accounting software systems will run payroll (including tax forms and reports – and most update tax rates semi-automatically, too), track inventory, track billable time (for professional services), maintain accounts receivable / payable, set up and track budgets, and provide for bank statement reconciliations. Many systems allow for user audit tracking – so that users with supervisory access can tell who made which entries, when, and from what location.

For nonprofits and churches, good accounting systems will also provide for database integration between donors or contributors and the accounting system – allowing the contribution reports and the accounting system to be reconciled. Good nonprofit and church accounting systems will also have solid fund accounting setups: keeping general fund monies and restricted funds separated.

Most importantly, there are many accounting systems available now that have secure online capabilities – including tablet and mobile applications. This allows multiple users to work from the same database from multiple locations and work sites.

Your organization will have to decide what software package to use and how you want it set up. Your reports are often as dependent on your configuration as they are dependent on your software! You may not need a hugely expensive and complicated piece of software to have clearer, more concise reports than you do now.

Design Group International is knowledgeable in several different accounting systems and can assist you and your organization in selecting and configuring an accounting system that is right for you. Interested? Click the link below to get in contact with us to start the conversation.

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Topics: Matthew Thomas, Design Group International, Financial System Conversion