Once you've chosen your new accountancy package, had it installed and worked out all the initial glitches, the end-users need to find out how to make the system work, which means accountancy training.
It may be tempting to skimp on training in order to reduce costs but this is often a false economy. True, many of the off-the-shelf packages are largely self-explanatory, needing only a little telephone support. However, for more complex systems, it's worth training a number of users to ensure they get maximum value from the system. The training should feature the type of data they're likely to be dealing with every day and cover all your common reports and processes.
Be prepared to commit staff for anything from a couple of hours to a few days in order to ensure they are fully trained. It's an investment that will result in less wasted time and fewer calls to the helpline.
Remember, your principal users can also teach other staff, so don't feel the vendor has to do all the training – while charging you accordingly.
You're also less at risk of losing useful knowledge if there are sufficient competent staff. This is often the case for smaller organisations, suggests Alison Marsh, director of Barracudas, a £1.7m turnover company that organises and runs summer activity camps for children. Barracudas uses TAS Books 2 to run the accounts for its 13 full-timers and 400 temporary staff who are employed during the summer. Purchase price was under £500 and the system costs around £300 per year to support.
“It's important that more than one person knows how to use the system otherwise you could be storing up a problem for the future. If only one person is using it every day you're leaving yourself exposed,” says Marsh.