This article focuses on finding an improved solution for a bad software implementation.
We all wish for a successful software implementation, but information system projects frequently fall short or even fail. Many software implementations can be challenging, and only a few companies today achieve highly successful software implementations on their first try. Usually, the reason for failure or a bad budget implementation has little to do with the actual software itself. In this article, we will explore the seventh installment of our budget series: how to fix a bad budget software implementation.
Let me introduce two scenarios you could most likely find yourself in. You are either a new budgeting manager who has inherited an old budget software that is sitting around and that doesn’t help you reach your budgeting goals, or you invested in a new budget software but the implementation fell short of your expectations. What do you do? Here are three steps.
1) Reassess if you have the right software. Does your budget software meet your needs? If it doesn’t, there is a problem. “You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole” can apply to those who try to squeeze their old manual Excel budget model into their commercial software without checking if they adapted their process to a reasonable extent to fit how their budget software works. A typical rule of thumb when you buy commercial software is to not customize the software, but to adapt your processes to fit how the software was designed to work the best.
2) Adapt your process and re-implement what your company needs in a budgeting tool, if necessary. If your company’s budgeting software does not work for your company even after trying to adapt the process, it may be time to evaluate a new budgeting software. In your new software evaluation, make sure this time around that your requirements are fulfilled by the budgeting software. If this seems too complex for you to evaluate the fit by just looking at a generic demonstration, I suggest you ask for a Proof of Concept (POC) so you know that the software suits your company. A POC is like a demo. The vendor or partner uses the software to create examples based on your requests. Its main purpose is to show how the software can solve some of your unique needs.
3) Decide on the deployment platform. If you go toward the route of a new budget software, you will typically decide to invest in either an on-premise software or a cloud-based software, depending on the needs of your company. Let’s explore the advantages and disadvantages of the platforms:
- On-premise: We all know on-premise software has been around for decades now, and although cloud-based solutions are becoming very popular, IT and finance often prefers to keep the budgeting solution in the same environment as their accounting system due to the requirement to export actual data from the General Ledger and import it to the budget solution, as well as the other way around. In addition, if a company already is paying for servers and IT staff to have on-premise software, it may be economically beneficial to also have the budget software locally.
Should the preference be to install the budget solution on-premise today but then to move it to the cloud later, if the company’s cloud strategies require it, you want to make sure that the software you buy can be used both locally and in the cloud
- Cloud-based: If your company is thinking about moving to the cloud, know that cloud computing is computing based on big server farms and available through the Internet. Cloud computing gives users access to the same type of applications through their browser and managed by the software vendorin a remotely hosted environment. Many organizations are moving to the cloud because cloud computing increases efficiency, requires no hardware purchases, helps improve cash flow in addition to offering many benefits such as flexibility, disaster recovery, automatic software updates, working from anywhere, increased collaboration, security, environmental friendliness, and competitiveness to list a few. Investing in a cloud-based budgeting tool might be the best solution for you and your corporation if you are looking for these advantages. Additional benefits are that the modern web interface is accessible from any computer with access to the Internet, the vendor performs the software upgrades so users can always have the latest version without waiting for their IT department to upgrade, and lastly, a number of cloud-based budgeting applications have pre-built, easy-to-set up integrations to specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Now that every software and application seems to go to the cloud, you may think investing in a cloud-based budgeting tool is the way to go, but there are some disadvantages. Drawbacks include less flexibility to integrate to in-house transaction systems than on-premise budget software and less control over upgrade cycles and customizations. Many cloud based budgeting solutions support many Excel-like features, but most of them can’t use Excel itself to design budget forms and thus power users may miss certain powerful Excel functionalities, such as advanced formulas, macros and charts.
Note: If your organization has complex budgeting requirements, you may want to evaluate a budget vendor where the budget template design itself is in Excel. Excel provides benefits, such as more flexibility in formulas and layouts that any budget designed interface. It is not only convenient because it is familiar, but it is also convenient because it provides full support of all Excel features and functionalities, such as macros, charting, and many more. Note that several modern budgeting solutions like BI360, lets you design your budget templates in Excel and then deploy them as web-based templates, giving you flexible design and convenient deployment to end-users.
Consider what your company needs in terms of budgeting and ask yourself if your company is capable of experiencing and surviving the software implementation that your company has chosen. With these common ideas in mind, it should give your company a better direction in fixing a bad budget software implementation. I suggest you communicate clear goals to your consultant or provider before you start any implementation. Solver offers Excel and web budgeting stand-alone solutions or a part of the comprehensive suite of BI360 modules and would be happy to answer any questions and generally review BI360’s easy-to-use Planning solution for collaborative, streamlined decision-making capabilities.