It’s normal to feel nervous when implementing a new budgeting solution using a software platform like Board. This is especially true if you’re moving away from spreadsheet-based budgeting and forecasting for the first time or if your previous experience with systems implementation is mainly from the installation of your accounting system.
Although Board provides pre-configured solutions for applications like budgeting and consolidation, the power and flexibility of Board means that implementations are more commonly built from the ground up to suit the client’s requirements. The result can be a bespoke solution that does exactly what you need and isn’t cluttered with features you won’t even use.
However, functionality is not the only measure of success for implementation, time and budget are important too. To help you maximise your likelihood of success, here are my tips for implementing a Board solution that delivers results.
Let’s get started.
- Focus on what should be done
One of the main differences between implementing Board, compared to something like an accounting system, is that there isn’t a pre-defined list of functionality. If you ask for something your accounting system doesn’t already do then the answer is “no”; or you end up discussing a customisation, which is often large and costly. With Board however, the answer is usually “yes” and effort is, by comparison, small.
It can be easy to get carried away adding non-critical functionality in the early stages. Overruns for cost and time are often the result of many small items, rather than a few “big ticket” items. So, it’s important to keep your focus on whether something should be done, rather than if it can be done.
- Conduct a scoping workshop
In my experience, well-scoped and pre-budgeted Board projects work best. If you have clarity around the result you need to achieve it is easier to make the many individual decisions about what should or should not be done throughout the project.
One of the most effective ways to keep control over your Board implementation is to run a scoping workshop with your implementation consultant right at the start of the process.
A scoping workshop will:
- get the relevant team members involved
- allow you to refine initial proposal estimates and work out the balance between time, cost and detail
- ensure that everyone clearly understands what will be delivered.
- Hold clarification and review meetings
Regular review meetings during the build phase of your Board project are vital. You want to ensure that the project remains focused, needs-based and directed and that expectations are met.
An effective BOARD consultant will spend time clarifying their understanding of your needs and how they can best build a system that works for you. At Professional Advantage, for example, we hold regular clarification and review meetings so that you can become familiar with the solution and refine its design.
- Prioritise function over form during the implementation
As you see your system taking shape during the build and testing phases it can be tempting to concentrate on the minute details of how the solution will ultimately look. However, during these phases, it’s better to focus your time and effort on how the system will work and collaborate with your consultants to ensure the functionality reflects your requirements.
The presentation of a Board solution is one of the simplest things to refine. The tools in Board are easy to use and you generally don’t need external technical expertise to make presentation-type changes. So making these changes yourself, even post-implementation, is a good way of getting the most from your implementation project.
- Only do a core set of reports during the project
In the same way that focusing too much on look and feel of the system can distract from more important tasks, reporting can sometimes have a similar effect. The priority during the implementation should be to ensure the database is well structured for reporting and developing the core set of reports so this can be tested.
From this point, it is relatively easy to produce the necessary variations of the core reports. Working on additional reports yourself, either during or after the initial implementation, is actually one of the best ways to gain a higher level of self-sufficiency with BOARD.
- Have a process for managing requests
An implementation works best when all change requests and issues are coordinated through a specific person or (small) group. If possible, you want to avoid the chaos and inefficiency that occurs when lots of people suggest system changes (the saying “a camel is a horse designed by a committee” exists for a reason!)
It is common to have change items in a Board implementation that are measured in hours rather than days. Therefore, it can be helpful to agree on blocks of time to work through change requests rather than incurring the overhead of having full change control around each small item.
Are you ready to build your Board solution?
If you want the maximum return on your Board investment, it’s worth taking the time to get your implementation right. To find out more about how to get started, contact Professional Advantage on 1800 126 499.
You can read more about Professional Advantage and Board here.
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