How to Prepare for Your First Budget Software Implementation (Budgeting Series)

This article will focus on the process of preparing for a successful software implementation.

Congratulations! You’ve finally made the first step in investing in a budgeting software. This is huge. Budgeting solutions will make a world of difference in streamlining painful, manual processes and will also often improve decision-making capabilities. Whether you are about to buy a tool or you just purchased one, you are on the verge of a software implementation. Many software implementations can be challenging, and only a few companies today achieve successful software implementations on the first try. In this article, we will explore the sixth installment of our budgeting series: how to prepare for your first budget software implementation.

Getting ready for your first budget software implementation is a lot like wedding planning. I don’t know if you have been to a wedding before, but I have been to over a handful of weddings this year, and I’ve learned from my girlfriends that wedding planning is no joke. You have to book photographers, a venue or two, a caterer, officiant, DJ, hair and makeup stylists, and that’s a fraction of the list. You forgot about party rentals, linen rentals, bartenders, and the list goes on and on. Just as wedding planning is important for the big day, proper planning for your first budget software implementation is key.

Usually, the reason for failure has little to do with the actual software itself. Here are 7 common reasons found in implementations that fail: Believing that software will solve your problems, unclear objectives, trying to use every feature in the new software right away, insufficient training and support, not getting buy-in from employees ahead of time, not planning for change, and finally, choosing the wrong software.

Software is just a tool or enabler: Because a company uses a budgeting solution, it does not necessarily mean the software is going to solve all of the company’s financial problems. A budgeting tool helps fix some of your problems, it does not necessarily fix all of them.

Unclear objectives: Not defining clear objectives for your budget software implementation is a common factor associated with failed implementations. It is amazing how many organizations undertake a budgeting solution with unidentified, nebulous, immeasurable goals. A successful project is one that has its objectives clear and defined. Organizational leaders need to set realistic goals and expectations upfront, before the implementation process takes place. If an organization does not determine assessments of critical objectives prior to the implementation, it is almost impossible to identify the issues responsible for either success or failure.

Using every feature in the new software right away: Having a specific list of top success factors and then focusing on these specific features for your objectives will help you and your organization achieve success. Also, be mindful to not ask for too many customizations right away.

Insufficient training and support: I spoke with a consultant about some tips when implementing a software solution. The consultant said lack of training and support during key periods especially prior to and post implementation can really bury a project. Training usually takes about one week for most companies.

No buy-in from employees: According to the Faye Business Systems Group, this may be the most common reason across all companies. All employees must believe in the budgeting strategy and the supporting program. They must be educated to buy-in to the budgeting implementation and utilization. You can gauge how successful an implementation will be by taking a look at the user adoption rate. A sign of success is when not only the self-motivated employees use the software, but also others within the company. Good communication skills are not only key to success in life and relationships, but also in work. Ensuring everyone in the company is aware and understands the full scope and process of the company’s first budgeting implementation allows employees to prepare for the future. In addition, it is important to communicate why the company is getting ready for its first budget software implementation.

No plans for change: There are important gauges of a successful budgeting implementation which are budget and cost overruns. Both of these gauges are simple, quantitative evaluations measured by objective analysis. If a project’s deadline was not met within a certain timeframe, make sure your company is prepared for any changes and how the company will be handling these projects. After all, who would want to work with a company that doesn’t meet deadlines?

Choosing the wrong software: Choosing a software partner that understands your business model and that can train employees properly is crucial. If the software provider is too expensive, doesn’t understand your goals and cannot properly train your team, there is a very high chance that the software implementation will fail. Consider the flexibility of the software as well as the number of users it can support.

In addition to the seven points above, consider what your organization needs in terms of budgeting and ask yourself if your company is capable of experiencing and surviving the software implementation that your organization has chosen. With these common reasons in mind, it should give you and your organization a better direction in implementing your first budget software program. Usually, there is a certain time frame, and before you choose to start your first budget software implementation, I suggest you communicate clear goals to your consultant or provider.

Expert corporate performance management consultant, John Rayburn, shares his tips when it comes to implementing a budget software.

Solver enables world-class decisions with BI360, a leading web-based CPM suite made up of budgeting, reporting, dashboards, and data warehousing, delivered through a web portal. Solver is reinventing CPM with its next generation solution. BI360 empowers business users with modern features including innovative use of Excel in the model design process. If you’re interested in learning more, our team is excited to hear about your organizational needs and goals.

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