Six ways to avoid a finance system implementation meltdown


A constantly evolving IT system is the engine room of all successful companies. Developers bring out new hardware, improved software and vital “patches” with increasing frequency, offering abundant opportunities to update and improve (if funding allows and the business need exists).

You could be considering a system changeover if you have found a way to do things quicker, cheaper and with greater automation and analysis built in.

Organisations of all types must also constantly review and improve IT in the light of the ever-present risks provided by cyber attacks. Most recently, this took the form of the WannaCry ransomware, which affected the NHS and prisons, for example.

The emergence of this nasty virus was quickly followed by Petya ransomware, which crippled companies throughout the US and Europe (including bringing Ukrainian banks, airports and government departments to a standstill).

Add into the mix the need to change and update IT systems to start the “journey” to compliance in regards to the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

This all means that companies are having to implement new IT systems with increased frequency, with all the business disruption that entails. So how can you prevent the changeover of IT systems spiralling into a meltdown?

Plan it out

This may sound obvious, but if you feel like the pressure is on to make changes swiftly, the planning phase can be the most frustrating.

Time taken with a competent team of compliance and project management personnel is a solid investment in creating a smoother implementation process. Not least as it sets milestones by which the changes can be monitored and measured.

A runaway train is never a good idea, no matter how attractive the destination.

Secure staff buy in

Whether you are implementing a new IT system out of desperation, ambition or necessity, one of the first things you need to do is secure the support of your staff.

Companies still hinge on the commitment of their humans.

If staff are aware of the aims and value of the system implementation, they are far more likely to be supportive, and respond to problems quicker.

Also, if they know timescales and milestones, they are more likely to monitor the implementation and report issues. This sometimes means being open about why the change was needed in the first place.

Carrot not stick

People are hardwired to resist change. It’s an inescapable fact. No matter how many times you spell out the benefits.

If the system implementation you are planning involves severe disruption and inconvenience, then you may need to provide incentives and rewards for staff. This encourages them to actively support the system implementation.

Good customer communications

The same principles outlined above could well apply to your customers. If they know why, how and when your system implementation is happening, you may well secure their patience. Manage their expectations carefully.

If you have planned it out with due diligence, you could minimise the disruption. But you may also need to consider having compensatory gestures available if customers start expressing dissatisfaction at a level that could lose you orders.

Financial contingencies

While financially planning a new system implementation, it’s wise to create a “slush fund”. This is not capital to invest in the machinery or software, but money to cushion any production or service interruptions that may occur.

If cash flow gets strangled while you make changes, all your good intentions could be wiped out by finding your company on a financial knife edge for months afterwards.

Bring in additional specialists

As indicated above, ensuring system implementation doesn’t result in company wide meltdown is not necessarily about the hardware or even the skills to make the changes.

It is often more about strategically placing “metaphoric sandbags” to stop money leaks, staff morale going through the floor or even customers drifting away.

That’s where BTG Recruitment can help. We can provide interim contractors and permanent recruits to provide control (and calmness) as the major changes unfold. We work solely with employers like you who are looking to secure high-calibre candidates for interim, fixed or long-term roles. Contact us today on 0115 960 7000 to see how we could help your company’s finance team attract bright, effective individuals.

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