Financial Systems

Identifying Business Needs in a Phased System Implementation

I recently completed an engagement as the project manager for a phased system implementation, in which the client transitioned away from MRI Software to Foundation Construction Accounting Software. The project required the diagnosis of the client’s current system and the selection of a new system with full cycle phases of implementation, data migration, training and going live.

During the initial discussion before the project began, it became obvious that the client was looking for suggestions for a new system, which is always preferable to a client’s having already decided on the replacement platform. I determined the best way to approach this type of project was a phased system implementation. I would obtain relevant company information before suggesting a new platform, and then I’d use that information to inform the decision-making process throughout the software vetting, implementation and go-live stages of the project.

About Phased System Implementations

A phased system implementation is a process by which the consultant takes the time to dig into the client’s business operations and requirements before beginning the physical implementation process. A phased system implementation may include the following: 

  1. Understanding the company’s business operations and identifying any unique requirements for a new system.
  2. Participating in the selection and sales process for possible new software platforms.
  3. Managing the physical financial systems implementation process, including the day-to-day tasks of data migration, testing and remediation.
  4. Overseeing the go-live and user training processes once the system implementation has commenced.

Going In-Depth to Determine Business Requirements

In phase one, I obtained much of the information needed to lay the groundwork for the remaining phases of the implementation. This was particularly true in determining which new software platform would best deliver what the client needed. My client is a vertically integrated company that had been using MRI Software, a platform generally designed for real estate companies, to run several different business units that were unrelated to real estate. However, the company needed a software platform with unique functionality for its construction accounting and project management operations, both specifically provided by Foundation Construction Accounting Software.

Making informed decisions during the subsequent phases of the project became possible by taking an in-depth look at the company’s requirements in the first phase. I spent several weeks examining my client’s business requirements with an eye on identifying a new software solution to suit their needs. This deep dive into my client’s needs included following aspects of their business and identifying these important markers for proceeding with any new system:

Current Accounting Processes and Operational Protocols

It was necessary to compile and review as much information as possible on the company’s current accounting and operational processes to understand what they did and did not need in a new system. This becomes the jumping off point to not only learn about the company, but to understand how a new system like Foundation Construction Accounting Software could solve some of their accounting and operational challenges.

Related Blog: Learn more about construction accounting principles in “What You Should Know About Project Accounting.”

Internal and External Reporting Requirements

This step can include a review of the company’s chart of accounts or its financial statements to identify if the company is maximizing its reporting capability. It can also include a check on any regulatory or investor reporting requirements to ensure that the new system can handle current needs and provide additional solutions to address needs that are not currently being met.

Functionality and Limitations of the Company’s Existing System

MRI Software is a trustworthy and capable platform that served the client’s needs adequately in one of their operating companies. However, it was inadequate to fulfill the needs of their growing general contracting and construction management business. The choice of a new system needs to include the accounting and reporting requirements of the company’s specific scope of work and the daily tasks associated with operating that type of business.

Internal Accounting Staff, IT Department and Stakeholder Needs

It is important to determine who will be using the new system and what they need for it to accomplish each cycle. Each team requires its own functionality and contributes its own work product to the successful operations of the company. Interviewing each of the interested parties is an informative way to learn the details of each team’s responsibilities, namely how they interact with the old system and how they will integrate into the new system.

User Requirements

Defining the user requirements may be the most important step of phase one. The key to selecting a new system is identifying the system functions that will be performed on a daily, monthly and annual basis. It’s also important to determine what output is required for the company to operate at maximum levels. This step clearly identified Foundation Construction Accounting Software as an ideal option to meet the needs of the company and their ongoing operational strategy.

Learning More

The work began on phases two through four once the client selected Foundation Construction Accounting Software as its new system. The hard work completed in phase one informed all the decisions made along the way and the client is now working within a new system that meets its needs and supplies all stakeholders and team members with the required functionality.

To learn more about implementation, you can read these related articles:

We also offer a whitepaper on selecting revenue management software for ASC 606. It offers a translatable, in-depth process for system selection:

revenue management software for ASC 606 whitepaper

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About the Author

Greg has more than twenty years of financial, operational and leadership experience in various sectors including construction management, land development, real estate, hedge funds, environmental technology, private equity, venture capital, media, government contracting and high-net-worth family office management. Prior to joining 8020 Consulting, Greg was the CFO at Southern Site Development in Atlanta where he guided the company from start-up through rapid growth. He also served as the CFO of the GreenTech Master Fund, a long/short equity hedge fund in New York City investing in environmentally responsible, green technology companies. Prior to that, he was an Assistant Managing Director for the Cisneros Group of Companies focusing on emerging business opportunities across North America and Latin America. Greg received his undergraduate degree from Texas Tech University and his Master of Business Administration degree from New York University’s Stern School of Business holding specializations in Financial Management, Leadership and Entrepreneurship.

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