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Finest Practices for a Stress-Free Fund Accounting System Implementation

Implementing a sturdy and trendy fund accounting system can save your crew time, make reporting quicker, and offer you extra alternative to deal with impactful work. However introducing a brand new fund accounting system is usually a sizable enterprise—even when you recognize it will likely be price it.

When you’ve discovered the proper companion, it’s good to incorporate the software program into your day-to-day and persuade your crew to as properly. A profitable implementation can take a major period of time and collaboration amongst your crew. On high of that, be ready for some change anxiousness or frustration at convoluted legacy information and processes, which may make a system change seem much more daunting than it truly is.

The excellent news is that it’s attainable to arrange your nonprofit group for achievement. With the suitable mindset and planning, you may arrange and execute a seamless fund accounting software program implementation that meets your wants—each for right now and for the longer term.

For an in-depth take a look at making a profitable course of, watch Blackbaud’s webinar “Arrange a Software program Implementation Your Customers Will Love” on demand.

Mindset: A Vital Instrument in Your Implementation Toolbox

Important change requires vital planning.

Earlier than moving into the main points of rolling out new fund accounting software program, deal with the massive image. Mindset issues. Envisioning the method from end-to-end permits these answerable for a system change to anticipate questions, considerations, and ache factors from all these affected by the brand new system.

By approaching the method with a proactive mindset, implementation groups can set themselves up for a clean transition by addressing potential hurdles and setting timeline expectations early.


Avoiding Roadblocks

Coalescing each member of your group across the similar objectives and expectations may also help you keep away from a number of frequent roadblocks earlier than they get in the best way of your implementation.

Change anxiousness and resistance: Studying a brand new system is usually a powerful promote for nonprofit professionals whose schedules are already full of every day duties. Emphasize to the crew that the adjustments can have a constructive influence on the entire group—and make processes quicker, extra environment friendly, and extra correct.

Limitations in present system design: In case your group has maxed out the capabilities of your present accounting system, it could be difficult to think about what may very well be higher. Encourage your crew to maneuver into constructive “what if” considering.

Know-how ecosystem and interplay: Your new fund accounting software program will solely be one a part of your group’s total know-how ecosystem. Guarantee everybody understands the way it will match into and work with current techniques, processes, and job features.


Understanding the Timeline

Implementing a brand new system sometimes requires effort and time from a number of events. Articulating this to your crew not solely units acceptable expectations, but in addition permits customers to raised perceive the implementation course of and get enthusiastic about new functionalities on the horizon.

How lengthy it takes to implement new fund accounting software program will fluctuate from one group to a different. Blackbaud’s consultants have managed implementations that had been began and completed inside a five-day workweek, however they’ve additionally overseen implementations that lasted 9 months or extra.

For many organizations, the best implementation timeline is round 90 days, cut up roughly evenly amongst three phases:

  • Preparation and planning (days 1–30)
  • Configuration (days 30–60)
  • Testing and go-live (days 60–90)

The most important components that have an effect on timelines are the objectives the group is attempting to perform and the variety of stakeholders who must have a voice within the dialog.

As you set an implementation timeline, bear in mind that some phases—testing, particularly—require vital time from a number of crew members whereas they’re nonetheless performing their day-to-day tasks within the legacy system.

Getting everybody on the identical web page when it comes to objectives and mindset will assist keep away from surprises later within the course of.

Preparation and Planning: Getting Your Fund Accounting in Order

The primary section of implementation captures your nonprofit group’s objectives and paints an image of the way you need the software program to perform each on the day it goes dwell and a number of other years down the street.

After you have a transparent understanding of what your group hopes to perform by altering fund accounting techniques, you may start to make particular preparations involving the group’s individuals and processes.

Listed here are some key inquiries to ask:



Understanding how individuals in your crew work together with the present system and making certain you’ve recognized all relevant use circumstances is a vital piece of the implementation puzzle.

  • Who will want entry to the system or the information, and what degree of entry ought to they’ve?
  • Are the employees members who will use the software program skilled in nonprofit accounting? Are they snug utilizing new instruments?
  • What assets, coaching, and assist will you and your crew want by means of the implementation and past?
  • Who ought to be a part of the implementation crew?

The scale of your implementation crew will fluctuate by group, however it’s best to embody a various set of roles. Usher in individuals who have a wide range of expertise ranges, together with those that are within the fund accounting system every single day and who use the system as soon as a month to view stories. The strategy planning stage can also be a good time to start the coaching curriculum, so individuals know find out how to use the system when it comes time to check.



The power to articulate present processes and desired outcomes is crucial when adopting a brand new system. Not solely does this help in figuring out and documenting adjustments in processes and workflow, however it’ll additionally guarantee your crew is supplied for a clean transition.

  • What’s concerned in your nonprofit group’s end-to-end monetary processes? Are these procedures documented, and do paperwork want updating?
  • What processes might be optimized to be able to present worth and provides individuals actionable information used to make enterprise selections?
  • How are monetary stories compiled?
  • How is the present system reconciled?
  • Is your group constant with regards to naming conventions?
  • What information must be transferred from legacy techniques?

Undergo every of your processes step-by-step to search out room for enchancment or reimagine higher procedures. That is additionally the time to make sure that processes are following good accounting practices.

Along with contemplating how your monetary techniques run right now, take into consideration what you will want three, 5 or 10 years into the longer term. You wish to arrange your new system in a method that can permit your group to develop.

That is all a part of defining the scope of labor, and for it to be only, it’s essential to doc each side of the plan. Solely with full documentation will you have the ability to perceive whether or not you met your objectives and if the implementation was successful.

Configuration and Testing: Creating the System You Want

Many fund accounting techniques provide customers a number of methods to perform the identical job. For that cause, an enormous a part of designing and configuring your system is figuring out one of the simplest ways to replicate what you are promoting inside the system.

Use this chance to rethink the best way your group operates and picture whether or not there may very well be a brand new method that works higher to your crew and your objectives. Perceive how your monetary processes work with different software program—akin to a fundraising CRM—and what information must be shared between techniques. Lean in your implementation guide to learn the way different organizations have tackled related challenges.

Your implementation crew will allow you to create a mapping doc, which specifies how accounts or funds in your outdated system will transfer into the brand new system. This can be a useful gizmo for uncovering gaps in your system design. Work on it all through your planning course of to be able to incorporate your findings into the ultimate configuration.

As soon as your system is totally configured, you and your crew ought to check the brand new system as a lot as attainable to make sure it’s working as supposed. Look again on the documentation you created within the planning section to grasp whether or not the brand new atmosphere is assembly the desired objectives and necessities.

In the event you’ve put in all of the upfront work, then your precise go-live day could really feel anticlimactic. Even so, take this chance to have fun all of the arduous work and hours that went into the implementation!

Wanting Lengthy-Time period: Supporting Success Over Time

With new fund accounting software program in place, it’s now time to make sure everybody on the crew has the coaching, assets, and time they should study the brand new system.

Along with coaching supplies, your software program vendor possible offers assets akin to a consumer group or academic occasions the place you may study from material specialists and trade friends. Ask your guide how one can recommend new product options and produce must their consideration.

And don’t let go of these scope paperwork simply but. Combine any long-term objectives you recognized into your group’s five-year plan, being positive to account for the way your new software program might want to scale as your nonprofit grows.

For extra ideas and examples, obtain the free finest practices information for monetary software program implementations.


Carrie Watkins is a senior content material advertising and marketing supervisor at Blackbaud and has been writing about complicated subjects within the banking, know-how, schooling, and nonprofit industries for greater than 20 years. Earlier than becoming a member of Blackbaud, she led the advertising and marketing initiatives for an academic know-how nonprofit working to decrease the price of school credit score. She usually volunteers with organizations that concentrate on meals insecurity in her group and has a Bachelor of Journalism from the College of Missouri.



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