How to Fix a Bad Budget Software Implementation
We all wish for 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.
Common Reasons Software Implementation Fails
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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?
7. 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.
Steps for Fixing 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.
Contact Solver for Your Budgeting Software Needs
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 bad budget software implementation. I suggest you communicate clear goals to your consultant or provider before you start any implementation.