Businesses that fail to conduct regular reviews of finance systems and continue to rely on outdated legacy software are putting themselves at risk, according to a new guide from software provider Advanced Business Solutions.
Finance software is often neglected after implementation, and reviewing this vital back office system can feel like an onerous project. Simon Fowler, Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, stresses the importance of regular reviews. In the new guide, Fowler reveals his top tips for companies thinking of undertaking such a review:
- Carry out a thorough assessment. Internally assess the current system, identifying where more support would be beneficial and what could be improved. For example, consider whether the system complies with sector legislation or if flexible cloud hosting options are offered. Think carefully about whether existing suppliers have the capability to assist the business as it grows.
- Build a specific list. Draw up a list of what is essential, what is not important and what is ‘nice to have’ – not just for the functionality of the finance system, but for the relationship with the future supplier as well. It is also worth bearing in mind any IT policy and strategy which may impact on the technological specifications required.
- Plan the project – people, time and budget. Designate individuals to take responsibility for the project, and consider whether any elements should be outsourced. Set time scales and compile a realistic budget, allowing for initial set-up costs, future maintenance payments, and time for analysis and implementation. Don’t forget to consider the compatibility of new technology with any existing systems.
- Structure the supplier selection. Start with a wide selection of suppliers and narrow it down through a process of tendering, demonstration, customer references, shortlisting and secondary meetings. Once a preferred supplier is chosen, review the contract requirements and final payment terms.
- Consider the future relationship with the chosen supplier. It is important to think about the sustainability of the relationship with the supplier. Look at their financial stability, the quality of the software, their commitment to investing in the product and their ability to offer upgrades as standard. Is this is a supplier and team that will support the business’ goals?
“A robust review of your finance system can reveal that, while it might be working well on the surface, it could be costing your business lost profit and wasting staff time through inefficient processes,” said Fowler. “The review process can feel like a large undertaking at the start. However, if it is well planned and executed it can be extremely worthwhile and can make tangible differences to the way a business operates in terms of reducing manual administration, consolidating various systems for greater efficiency and enhancing the visibility and control of finance processes.”