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When Can we be Up and Running on your Software?

I was recently working with a new client in the early stages of another SYMPAQ rollout and during the kick-off meeting we arrived at a question on their implementation questionnaire that states "What is the startup date...for the company's accounting transactions?" And so I asked, "When do you hope to go live?". "As soon as possible!", came the reply. Then I was asked, "When can we be up and running?" I hesitated for a moment because the truth is there is no standard answer that any accounting/ERP software provider can give to that question, especially before the real work begins and resources are scheduled. There is no such thing as a cookie-cutter time estimate due to various factors, so arriving at a precise date is much more of an art than a science. 

At best, you can get a guesstimate based on the average time for past implementations that your vendor has completed for companies similar to yours to arrive at a target "live" date. That target date is often subject to slippage, but on some occasions is met ahead of the time allotted.  To contain costs and maximize efficiency associated with the implementation process, a software vendor should be able to perform certain tasks for which they take responsibility in their statement of work on a firm fixed price basis. Be wary of T&M cost estimates where the hours to complete a given task vary significantly (e.g., 12 to 24 hours) because this typically means the high end of the estimate is what you will ultimately be incurring and paying. Besides, if a provider has done this exercise many times before, shouldn't it stand to reason that their estimates can be more precise? If not, then they're not asking the right questions. 

It is your software provider who should be asking you, "When is it that you want to be up and running?" and not the other way around. A key consideration and question to ask is, "What are the staffing resources can you commit to the effort?". Of course, during an initial discovery call, your solution provider can potentially identify any complexities or shortcomings that could hinder progress. Your provider is certainly not going to know who on your team won't be available for whatever reason (e.g., vacation) unless you disclose that information upfront. In any case, based on my years of experience, the onus is on the end user to control things that are beyond the grasp of your software provider's implementation team. 

The reality is that some users never get up and running due to a variety of circumstances. As a client of ours once observed, "Systems don't fail, people do." To avoid this outcome, make sure that your staff is fully committed to the effort that lies ahead. Your software provider should provide a detailed statement of work with the tasks divided between what they will perform and what tasks you will be responsible for completing. Once the roll-out begins, weekly status meetings should be held to monitor progress. A help desk or CRM system should be offered by your software provider to enable you to create support requests on demand. It is safe to say that the era of long-drawn-out, costly software implementations is over, but exactly when you can expect to be live on your new system is simply a goal. 

Fortunately, with SYMPAQ, your accounting system's acceptance by DCAA is never an issue once you have taken the necessary steps to get "up and running". Complex processes such as Labor Distribution, Indirect Rates, and cost allocations are built-in and take minimal time and effort to implement. For this reason, we have gotten clients up and running in less than one month, and in one particular case in just two weeks. But rather than taking credit for rapid implementations, the credit goes to the client who was committed to the task at hand and made it happen on their timeline. 

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