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System Implementation Specialist needed or not?

We are a $10M SaaS subscription based company looking for upgrading our system from QuickBooks. We are currently looking into 3 systems options: Xero, FinancialForce, and NetSuite. One of the consideration is the skillset needed for migration and implementation. Is it necessary to engage system implementation consultants for each of these 3 solutions, or we can deal with the implementation with our own finance department? I assume you cannot do it on your own with NS, but what about Xero and FinancialForce?

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

You are looking at three entirely different systems in that the offering of both the core systems and add-on's differ greatly.

Did you do a proper GAP analysis and needs assessment before you decided on looking at these three (or any) system?

Have you investigated these systems you talked about vis a vis your results?

Have you investigated the system vendors (or 3rd party vendors) who will do the installation.

Have you compared the systems, selected one and the vendor and then devised your implementation plan?

If not you may need outside help.

You might want to take the course entitled "Before You Buy That Accounting, ERP, or CRM System..." on Proformative (shameless plug, but there are other great courses there too) but it gives you the 10,000 foot view of the process.

Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Anon,

Building off of Wayne's comments, do you or any of your colleagues have system implementation experience with your 3 choices (including design of your new processes, chart of accounts set up, configuring the system to handle your processes, training on the system, integration with other systems, UAT and data migration from QB, etc)?

If not, make use of implementation consultants and evaluate their fit/capability just as you would evaluate the software. However, be aware that you and your colleagues must be part of the team that does the work. If you don't have skin in the game, you won't survive after the consultants leave the project. At $10mm in revenues, this should not be a major resource drain on your company, if you plan it well and use your own and external resources wisely.

On the topic of data migration, this can run away with costs if you try to convert too much legacy data at too low a level of detail. Be careful about what you need in the new system versus what you can retain in reports that cover historical periods.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Good addition Len.

Bruce Lynn
Title: Managing Partner
Company: The FECG LLC
(Managing Partner, The FECG LLC) |

Since you original mentioned "upgrading" I take that to mean you want to do more than just replace Quickbooks, but what exactly are you trying to accomplish to prepare you for the future?

Acquiring a new system just to make your "mistakes" faster is probably not the reason you are considering a new system

Many companies spend large amount of resources converting / mapping or putting data into a new system without considering that new systems can produce more than Quickbooks is capable of, but what exactly do you want to produce? What is your "architectural vision" of the future your new financial system will be asked to support?

Just GAAP financials? Customer profitability? Product Profitability? Forecasts? Ability to drill down or roll up data using various perspectives? Use of market information to compare company results to a peer group? What role will operations play in the use of the new system and why shouldn't they use parts of it to look at cash flows or exposure to markets?

Unless your current finance staff or project team has the time and talent to design and implement a new "vision" for your company AND manage current operations at the same time I would second the earlier suggestions and go with implementation assistance from others who have "been there, done that".

Keith Bergman
Title: Managing Director
Company: Ledgewood Advisory Group
(Managing Director, Ledgewood Advisory Group) |

Time is money, so my short answer is that you should consider bringing on a part time consultant who can help define the road map and end state, assist in reviewing your accounting and finance requirements, and most of all help with the system evaluation. Spending a little more upfront can save you money in the long run especially if your team is not going to be 100% focused on the project.

I've heard of a situation where a company brought in a consultant without prior knowledge of the system the company selected and ended up implementing within four weeks. This was because the correct system was selected for the client and the implementation work that was required made no difference to the system that was selected.

Timm Elrod
Title: Senior Systems Analyst
Company: Business Evolution
(Senior Systems Analyst, Business Evolution) |

Very good advice given thus far and support the pints. I will add a couple if points that you should also take into consideration. If you are on an on-premise version of QuickBooks, be sure to review the impacts to your enterprise architecture especially regarding security and a back plan for internet access when moving any of your core business operations to the cloud. Depending on your location , a small "oops" by a construction project or even a pole being knocked down by a vehicle can have undesired impacts. Not to make it an issue, just an area that is easily overlooked. A good review and mitigation plan can prevent unwanted surprises.

Anonymous
(consultant) |

Thanks all for the great input. We want a system solution that can scale with growth, but requirement is yet to be determined and finalized. Internal resource within Finance and IT is very limited with our company, and none of us have prior experience in system selection. Based on all the feedback, I think it makes sense to engage an implementation consultant to help with the gap analysis, system evaluation, and subsequent configuration and implementation.

Topic Expert
Len Green
Title: Performance Improvement Consultant and E..
Company: Haygarth Consulting LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Performance Improvement Consultant and ERP Strategist, Haygarth Consulting LLC) |

Anon
If you'd like the name of a consultant (he is also a Proformative member) to help you here, please contact me via private message for his contact details.
Thanks
Len

Jim Burtt
Title: Director Global Financial Systems & Proc..
Company: formerly at Guidewire Software, Inc.
(Director Global Financial Systems & Processes, formerly at Guidewire Software, Inc.) |

I completely agree with recommendations to bring implementation consultants on board. Get someone who agrees with your philosophy (for example, no customization), has hands-on expertise with whichever multi-tenant SaaS solution you select, and can show you an initial project plan that spells out roles & responsibilities of all parties and supports their quote. Integration with other applications can deliver a high ROI, but you need technical resources to implement and maintain. Why did Intacct not make your list?

Julie Freer
Title: Controller
Company: Ascentis
(Controller, Ascentis) |

I am the Controller at a SaaS company approximately your size. I was hired to implement Intacct from Quickbooks about 4 years ago. I would be happy to share my experience with you. julie [dot] freeratascentis [dot] com

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