This old quote has come to my mind a few times over the course of Q1, while we worked to get our new accounting system, Jonas Premier, firing on all cylinders.
There has been a vigorous, if not steep, learning curve on Jonas Premier, combined with some kinks in the software that has made the period since we began using JP on 10/1/14 stressful, to put it politely. Some of the things we learned in the transition are fairly obvious, but it may be worth listing a few, in case you are contemplating a similar transition.
- User support is one of the most important features to consider when choosing software. Online written documentation trumps training videos and free “live” support, in my experience. (Best case is hiring a qualified independent consultant, of course.)
- Clean up the old books before you port to a new system. This is just the same as moving house, where everyone knows that it would be much easier to make the move if you threw out all your junk and pared down belongings BEFORE packing the boxes, but I at least never seem to accomplish that.
- It’s easiest to change accounting systems at the beginning of the fiscal year, but you still need to account for the learning curve on the new system. Here our timing was actually not bad – we thought we were going to make the switch for Q4, but actually ended up keeping books on both old & new systems through the end of 2014. If we had aimed to flip the switch on Jan 1, 2015 from the beginning, we probably would have started too late.
- If you keep data in multiple places, there is only one set that is the true source. In a system with redundancy, data is going to get out of sync. Make sure that everyone knows which source is the true source, and is using the appropriate one. (If you can keep two sources of data perfectly up to date, you are employing too many workers.)
- It may be better not to change every part in a system at the same time. We changed bookkeepers, accounting software, payroll service & state tax preparation in a three month span. This has put another old saying in my head, as I see the light at the end of the tunnel: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
By Laurel Cripe