How to painlessly change software - almost

Kirsten Hawke

Once a business is loyal to a software program it can be daunting to change to a new system, even if it has functions that are significantly better than the old favourite.
However, with good planning the short-term pain of transition should be minimised, and you may even save money.

How to painlessly change software - almost

BUSINESS buddy regularly works with businesses making the move from various accounting packages to Xero and the buddies have learnt there are a few things to look out for.

1.       Start with the future in mind

Easier said than done but when you start out with any software consider where your company will be in a few years’ time.

Look for upgrades that allow for more users, without costing a fortune.

Integration with other software, such as Xero can save you a lot of time and avoid unnecessary double-entry of data.

You may discover new features are developed in an integrated software program that make another program you use redundant and that will save some dollars.

Always anticipate free software will eventually have some cost, whether it is your privacy or limitations on features.


2.       Check your contract

You may find you can’t switch software if you have entered into an agreement for 12 months or more.

There may be an opt out penalty clause that is cheaper than staying with shabby software.


3.       Search the reviews

Before you ditch software, read the reviews of new apps and desktop versions of the new program.

Look for people working in similar industries or businesses as you because their perspective can be valuable.

Of course, use your own judgement as many reviews are imbalanced.


4.       Contact the new software company

Send a quick email to a software provider that interests you, talk to their chat bot or message them.

This will reveal if they are no longer in existence, they are painfully slow to respond, or they use out-of-date communication technology.

Avoid them because they will never be able to quickly help you when you are stuck.


5.       Plan a transition process

If you have decided this is it and you are going to make a change, plan the switch over a period.

Where possible, make sure your internal leaders and influencers have looked at the new software and they are on-board with the change.
Things to consider in the planning are:

·         Timing – no one will be happy if you make a big change in the middle of a busy period.

·         Training – who, how and when will your team have access to guidance on using the new software.

·         Progressive introduction – consider using a few features and building your team’s confidence before introducing more features.

·         Regular check-ins – you may discover team members who are not happy with the new software and revert to old systems.


6.       Download stored data

Before you stop using old software, ensure you have a system in place to download and stored archived data.

For example, Harvest time tracking software enables downloads of all invoices as a pdf, ensuring users comply with their IRD obligation to store all business documentation for seven years.


7.       Be patient

Learning something new is challenging – for everyone.

Use the help options, watch the demo videos and call the support teams. Make a commitment to using that new tool to its full capacity – giving you the greatest return on your investment.

Switching software may be forced upon businesses, for example Trello recently advised it will charge formerly freebie account holders who use numerous planning boards.

Fair enough, however it means some people will review their options, rather than switching to a paid account.

If you need advice about making a software shuffle contact BUSINESS buddy and the advisors will help you investigate new options.

Kirsten Hawke