Who's Your Evangelist

I recently read with interest an article by Gene Marks about how to make your CRM installation a success.  One of his points I thought applied equally well to your accounting system and that was "Invest in a Administrator".  I have repeatedly seen this be the difference between failure and success in client installations.

Like the CRM system that Gene is talking about, you make a significant investment in your accounting solution and it is a critical part of your organization, be it governmental, nonprofit, tribal  or commercial for that matter.  Many managers expect that after the installation the software will just run itself.  While the software will run itself, there is this little thing called the human/machine interface.  Your consultant may have done the best job in the world during the installation, the problem is the staff (the humans) can only absorb so much training at one time, and no matter what they will have later questions.  Also, there will be items that they do occasionally and no matter how intuitive the software the staff will forget in the interim.

If there is an administrator appointed many of the issues with installations can be avoided.  One important point is that the person assigned has to want to do it and has to have time provided in their schedule to do the job. While the official title may be Administrator I really think of them as the Evangelist. If you have a willing Administrator who loves the job and the software here is what your organization gets out of it:

- A ready resource for other staff - when staff has questions or need assistance they know who to go to and they are readily available

- A reduction in consulting costs - the Administrator becomes the go-to person for questions

- Better reporting capabilities - if the person is writing reports for everybody they remember how to do it and be a lot more effective

- Better utilization of the system - systems are frequently only 60 - 70 percent utilized as nobody has time to figure out how to do the extra function.  The administrator will be pushing to make sure it happens and will be ready to figure it out.

While there is a cost to allocating part of somebody's time to do it, it usually is easily funded by the reduction in consulting costs and the increased  utilization of the system.  As the 1099s are prepared directly from the system, the allocations are run automatically, the reports are generated directly instead of using spreadsheets and cash management improved it is easy to see benefits for the organization.  Usually this person transforms from administrator to evangelist as the organization embraces what the system has done for it.