VISUAL NEWSLETTER – FEB 2002           

 


WHY COMPUTER SYSTEMS FAIL

 

Over the years we have witnessed hundreds of companies as they implemented new computer systems. Some companies moved from manual systems, some from other computer systems to Libra and some from Libra to more sophisticated manufacturing systems. One thing held true in almost all of these conversions. Companies that had good management and a good grasp of their old system, whether it was manual or already computerized, always had a far easier time converting to a new system.

 

With any good accounting system it is ultimately the people running it that make it work or fail. Attitude is everything in this case and combined with good attention to detail most accounting systems on a solid hardware platform will perform well.

 

Any company, whose internal accounting is in disarray, that thinks that a new computer system will solve all of their problems is probably being naďve and will likely fall prey to the first good sales pitch that comes along. In these cases the state of the companies accounting system invariably stays about the same or gets even worse.

 

This holds true because most new systems are generally more complicated than the one that you have now.  If you are having problems with a simple system, making it more complicated seldom helps. However, in some cases, a more simple system may not provide all of the features that you need.

 

For example, about ten Libra clients went over to new systems in the last few years:

2 made a successful albeit painful transition, 2 completed the transition but admit to being worse off than before, 1 went out of business after the transition and 5 gave up on the new accounting system and returned to Libra. Not a particularly good record but typical. 

 

MAKING A NEW SYSTEM WORK

 

Making any new system work well is always a challenge but there are things that you can do to help things move along smoothly.

 

1)    Do a need analysis, including both features that you need as well as those items that the existing system does well. Surprisingly, many alternative systems do some things better than others but they often have their own serious weaknesses as well.

 

2)    Check references for companies in a similar business and compare notes on the time and cost of implementation as well as their overall experience with the new software and the company providing training and tech support.

 

3)    Allocate a significant budget for training. Many companies come up with the money to purchase a new system but do not spend enough time and money on proper training. If possible have one user become a super user who can become a trainer.

 

4)    Make sure that you have the budget to add the features that you require if the system does not provide them out of the box. One customer I know went ahead with a conversion on the assurance that the modifications they needed wouldn’t be too expensive, only to find a price tag of $50,000 attached to the modifications after they were already committed to the project.

 

5)    Make sure that your key people are on board and made aware of the reasons for the changes. If possible allow them to assist in the selection of the software. Such involvement insures that there is a commitment to make things work and aids in the transition.