Installation and implementation of any accounting software solution will add to your initial setup costs but if you are to get full value from your new software, it simply pays to get it right first time.

Helen Maggsis, a director of West Berkshire Brewery, a business with a £500,000 turnover and five full-time employees, learnt this by bitter experience. When she started a basic computerised system using an MYOB package four years ago her experiences were typical of many small businesses.

“I installed the CD and blithely started. But I had no accountancy or bookkeeping experience. I should have spoken to an accountant to ensure I set up the various categories correctly and put figures in the right places. It would have saved problems later on,” she says.

If getting it right can be tricky for those using a relatively simple package, anyone who's thinking about something a bit larger should call in a vendor or consultant to help them through the process as they can not only give advice but also iron out any technical issues quicker, and cheaper, than simply muddling through.

Delegation is key

We would suggest no company should delegate full responsibility for setting up the system to its IT consultant. Instead, a key member of staff – you or a colleague – should act as project manager. You might not have the technical knowledge but you're best placed to ensure you get what the business actually needs rather than what the IT technician thinks you need.

Given your investment it is vital that you get the system working for you, and you shouldn’t wait until the installation is complete to find this out. It might sound glib but think about what the product looks like when it's actually in use. For example, is the on-screen format user-friendly?

Getting involved at all stages of its implementation will help you in the long term. Ask how the package presents some of your regular statements and reports. If these don't suit your presentation style, you should ask for them to be adjusted and customised to match your requirements.

Involve your main end users in the demonstrations and pilot stages and get their feedback. This will gauge their level of understanding, the result being you'll get a system people are happy to use.