Getting to Phase 2

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By Bill Kennedy - How much of Excel do you use?

  • If you spent a little more time designing your key spreadsheets so that all of the calculations were consistent and the data flowed in a logical way, could you produce more effective reports?
  • If you learned a little more about graphing or pivot tables, could your presentations be a little more powerful?

Most accountants I know freely admit that they just scratch the surface of what Excel can do.

Now, what about your accounting system?

That's what I mean by Phase 2: the time when you take a hard look at how the system is being used versus what it's capable of. How much of the initial plan got implemented? How much of it was deferred because of time or budget constraints? Back in the heat of dealing with all of the issues of going live on your system you had to make some compromises to get the system up and working. What about taking some time now and revisiting those decisions? Pull out a list of the features that were identified as "nice to have's" and start to think about implementations.

Phase 2 has been a theme in this blog since its inception. This year, I was asked to write about it for CA Magazine, the voice of Canada's Chartered Accountants. You can find the article here. In it I list some Phase 2 project ideas to help you get started.

In this blog, I would like to talk about a key Phase 2 relationship - you and your consultant. Most accounting systems are implemented by consultants. They have the technical training to set up the system, import the history and train the staff. If you have been live on your system for over a year, you should have someone back for a post-audit. They can take a fresh look at how your staff is using the system and suggest:

  • Features in your current system that are not being used effectively,
  • Features that you have paid for but which have not been implemented,
  • Features that you could use but don't currently have,
  • Software upgrade timing,
  • Procedures that could be streamlined or made more effective, and
  • Answers to questions / problems the staff have but have not voiced.

Depending on the size and complexity of your system, a post-audit can be as quick as two days - one for analysis and one for reporting.

BUT

A lot depends on the qualifications and experience of the consultant. If you don't have someone you trust and who knows your business / industry, then your first task should be to find one.

Oh, and if you would like to improve your Excel knowledge, let me recommend Chris Wood (aka Captain Excel).

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