Things to Remember When Switching Accounting Software

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There’s plenty of guidance out there for switching accounting software, most of which comes from software providers themselves. But, what do we as CPAs and bookkeepers ourselves think?

Of course, every software is going to indicate that transitioning is simpler than it is, but it can be a stressful experience ensuring you don’t lose critical financial information and don’t regret changing software. Here’s our list of things to consider BEFORE switching software, and how to ensure a smooth process.

Before Switching Accounting Platforms

There are many reasons your current accounting software solution might not be working for you. The system itself could be too simple, or in the inverse, you might be paying for something you feel costs too much. Needless to say, it’s easier to know you don’t like your current software than to know if the next software you will choose is the right one. Here are some things to consider before you switch platforms.

  • Why do I want to switch?
    Understanding what exactly isn’t working for you can help you better evaluate potential new solutions. Make sure you have an understanding of why it’s important to switch, and when.
  • What do I need to have and what would be nice to have?
    Take some time to talk with everyone who relies on your platform and your business leadership to determine what you need the new software to do.
  • Do I have the time to oversee a software migration?
    If you’re pressed for time, keep in mind that you have options. Many CPA firms offer bookkeeping software clean ups and migrations, and not only does this free up your time, it ensures your new software is set up correctly (training is often a part of this process, but you can also hire an accounting consultant to see you through).

Questions to Ask Yourself About Potential Solutions

Once you’ve decided it’s definitely time to move platforms, it’s time to look into accounting solutions and determine which one is a good fit. There are hundreds of accounting software options, ranging from free invoicing software to middle-of-the-road consumer and small-to-medium business accounting platforms to custom enterprise solutions. A consult with a CPA or bookkeeping consultant can also help you get the right software.

  • Does it have the features I need?
    While many accounting softwares offer the same features, some of the more affordable options are stripped down with fewer capabilities. Think about what is most important to your business—maybe your primary need is invoicing, or you need a platform that also offers inventory management. Identify the critical functions, needs, and nice to haves, and find out if the potential platforms have these.
  • How will data migration work?
    Data migration can be error-riddled, particularly if your new software isn’t compatible with the old one. This is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the migration process, including what format your data needs to be in (and can your current software generate that format). You can also reach out to the new software’s customer service team to see if implementation guidance is available (although this often comes with a cost).
  • How much of a learning curve is there?
    Understanding how long it will take you to learn the new software and whether it’s intuitive and easy to use is important, mostly for timing (who wants to still be learning a new bookkeeping system during tax season?). Some companies will designate a team leader to learn the new bookkeeping system and take on the role of answering questions and troubleshooting.
  • How is my data managed?
    Data management means is my financial data secure, is it protected, and is it backed up. Most softwares offer encryption, access controls, and compliance with data regulations.
  • Is the cost worth it for us?
    Accounting software ranges from free-to-use invoicing software to monthly subscription software with powerful capabilities. Make sure the benefits of the software are worth the cost.
  • Is it meant for my business (size, entity structure, etc.)?
    A single-member LLC likely doesn’t need a sophisticated, fully custom accounting platform meant for mega corporations and Fortune 500 companies. And, a larger business with tons of inventory, multiple offices, and scaling transactions can’t get by on an entry level accounting system. Make sure the software you’re looking at is a good fit for your business scale.

Surviving the Migration Process

There’s no stopping the fact that the migration process is tedious. It’s something you want to be prepared for, with ample time set aside for double-checking data, learning the new platform, and managing any errors that come up.

  • Clean up your current accounting software
    It might seem counter-intuitive, but cleaning up your current accounting software is the first step. Accurate data going out means accurate data going into your new software. It’s a headache, and probably not the guidance you want, but it is important! (Don’t worry. If you don’t want to do this we offer accounting software cleanup and support, not just for Quickbooks, but for all software!)
  • Consider hiring an accounting consultant
    A consultant is hired for the period of time you need them. This means you can hire on an accountant to prep you for migration, manage the changeover, and get training on how to use the software.
  • Ask the software company if they offer migration services
    Some companies will offer migration services, however they do come at a price. This can work as a collaboration, with their support team guiding you and making you aware of any challenges you might face.
  • Create a migration plan
    If you decide to manage the migration yourself, make sure you put together a plan. This should outline steps, roles, milestones, and responsibilities. Even more critical, this should outline a REALISTIC timeline for implementation.

    This plan should also outline the risks and contingencies
    We’ll say it again—BACK UP YOUR DATA and store it separate of your current accounting software. This ensures that if anything goes wrong you still have access to your data.
  • Schedule your migration, and go for it!
    Set a specific date and time (or time period) for the process. This should happen in a time where you can dedicate focus and not be pulled into other activities, and certainly not at a time when you’ll be needing to generate reports.
  • Allow yourself some overlap time
    While you might think once the data has moved it’s time to cancel your old software, it’s not a bad idea to pay for a few months of concurrent subscriptions, just in case something goes awry (or, if you realize the new software just isn’t going to work for you). Once your data is in the new system, monitor the performance and make sure you’ve got everything you need in functionality. You may want to wait for your next reporting period to ensure this works properly.

Migrating software can be challenging, but it can also set you up for success in the future. Many small business owners start out with DIY or low-cost accounting systems and eventually need to scale to a larger platform. If this is you, congratulations! This is an often overlooked milestone of success for businesses.

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