Improved international communication, efficiency and reporting was the driver for a recent online accounting system migration project to IntegraEnergy for an AIM-listed oil & gas client.
A creaking accounting system that is no longer fit for purpose can often be an, albeit alarming, sign of healthy company growth. Taking the step to upgrade to a more scalable accounting package and the associated planning, purchasing and implementation work requires careful project management to minimise the impact on day-to-day transactions.
With today’s trends towards remote working and international collaboration, a robust online, or ‘cloud’-, accounting software package can provide a cost-effective way to deliver the required functionality. The implementation of a cloud-based solution brings additional considerations, including hosting infrastructure and security, but can also convey important advantages.
In this case, an AIM-listed oil & gas company wanted to streamline international communication and strengthen accounting processes. With staff and advisors based both in the US & UK, and the need to support remote working, an online solution was an obvious choice.
Why was an accounting software change necessary?
- To improve reporting: the company needed to export useable reports and transaction data to facilitate ease of data-interrogation and management reporting analysis
- Data for regulatory and tax reporting needed to be produced quickly and efficiently
- The client wanted to facilitate remote working and international system-accessibility by authorised people whilst ensuring that data was stored securely and backed up offsite
The Aspiration Europe team were engaged to lead and deliver the implementation phase of the systems migration. The project was broken down into eight main tasks:
- Evaluate the group’s existing finance systems and document the functionality required, opportunities for improvements, types of transactions and data, and reporting needs.
- Gap analysis: comparison of the new system and the requirements from (1). Where limitations were found, solutions were developed to maximise efficiency of data processing.
- Detailed transaction-type planning, including invoices, credit notes, cheque writing and industry-specific transactions such as revenue distribution and product tracking.
- Definition of the initial list of reports needed from the system and the data required to feed into these reports.
- Set up of a test company to ensure the entries record correctly and the reporting is streamlined.
- After validation, creation of the core data including chart of accounts, business entities and bank accounts.
- Population of the opening balances with clean year-end data.When switching over from another accounting system, we recommend that clients either 1) plan a clean ‘stop’ on the old system and start the new one at the same time, or 2) use both for a defined period of parallel-running. If the latter approach is taken,all transactions need to be processed through both systems and the trial balances must be validated to ensure they match at the next month-end.
- Train end-users and write guides for users. Ensure controls are in place for areas of weakness that are identified during testing and implementation.
- Start using the new system and run final reports from the old system to ensure a full auditable history is in place.
I asked Louise Gibbs, change and process management specialist at AE, what her top tips were when considering new accounting systems:
“First, any accounting software needs to be intuitive, easy to use for now and able to meet the needs of a growing business. Cost is important too. Many online systems allow you a free trial. Use it on your own personal accounts for a short while and see if you find the system intuitive.
Second, is it fit for purpose? Are the reports and data export facility there to meet business needs. Will it meet all your regulatory reporting needs? Can the data support growing your company – will it provide a view on sales by type and volume or a view of customer profitability. This way the system is not just a cost but can drive greater profits too.
And finally, is it adaptable? Consider where the business is going, will the system support the future. Can you see a time when you are going to need different views of what is going through the accounts? For example spend by type, staff, equipment or premises is all well and good but if you start offering different types of services or products will the system give this ‘other view’ easily? Might you need to operate in different currencies?”
Every accounting systems transition project has its own challenges and considerations but ensuring a successful and timely implementation, and getting the balance right between day-to-day efficiency and reporting capability, is a great way to bolster the efficiency of the finance function – and ultimately provide better management information for strategic decision making.
The team at AE are experienced in managing, supporting and implementing accounting systems changes. If we can be of assistance to you by providing additional resources or advice to ensure your accounting system transition is as smooth as possible, please contact Anne Ovens firstname.lastname@example.org.
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