Why is changing our systems so


Why is changing our systems so hard? Is it real, or is it all in the mind?

Should an organisation change its systems?

Why is changing our systems so


John runs a successful company in its fifteenth year of operations. A decade and a half of good growth has put him and his leadership team in a strong position to brave the current storms. But increased operational complexity and workload are tying them down. Luckily for John, we live in an incredibly exciting time for scaling up companies.

Like most things in life, organisations and the systems they use mature with age, continuous development, growth, successes and likely a host of failures. One quickly finds that organisations get stuck in their ways and find that when they want to introduce any form of technology or systems change, it is extremely hard to do so.

Mature organisations that have this long-standing heritage typically find themselves utilising traditional Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) technologies, some as old as the 1980’s, whilst simultaneously being confronted with the influx of cloud technology and new ways of doing business.

Organisations find themselves asking: “Should we change?”, “Will it be better than what we have now?, “What is the opportunity cost to change?”, “Why should I change if my system already works?” And lastly, “My business is too complex and cloud tech cannot address my organisation’s unique business needs.”

Head of operations and cloud technology specialist at Outsourced CFO, Wilhelm Walser, unpacks these challenging questions.

“The most challenging thing that prohibits the organisation’s ability to entertain the idea of changing to a modern cloud system is their mindsets. As ERP systems developed over the years, we find that organisations make financial and operational functions more complex than what it actually was designed to be. Let’s take accounting as an example. Accounting strives from the simple notion that for every Debit, there is a Credit. Put otherwise, for every action, there is an equal counter action in accounting terms. Yet, when working in traditional ERP systems, it feels to users that for every action, 10 to 15 other actions then need to be done, resulting in complex financial controls, rules and processes that are inefficient and adds complexity to the already busy lives of CFO’s and CEO’s alike.”

Wilhelm believes that the success behind modern cloud technology lies in two fundamental principles, namely cloud software providers focus on getting back to the basics and secondly their ability to integrate with each other.

“Firstly, cloud software providers strive to get back to the basics and ensure that their software only does what it was designed to do and leave the other complexities to other software solutions that were designed for those functions. Let’s look back to our accounting example and take an application like Xero for example.

When Xero was designed, they went back to the basics and developed an accounting system that ensures that for every debit there is a credit. That is it. Today we find that they completely disrupted the accounting software space by introducing a cloud accounting system that lives and breathes by this principle and actively strives to stay away from more complex business requirements such as manufacturing, point of sale, e-commerce, etc.”

So what about all the other real business requirements then? Are they then falling by the wayside?

“Absolutely not! The principal of having multiple systems sounds very counterintuitive to organisations. This is again based on past technology development trends. Traditionally organisations were required to find a single solution that needed to do everything for the organisation, whilst having custom add-ons developed by developers or project managers that typically carry little to no knowledge about the addon feature as it lies outside of their field of expertise. This typically led to poor software development and a lot of redevelopment till the point where it was acceptable to the organisation, yet still not meeting the organisations desired end result,” says Wilhelm.

Also read: 10 top tech tools to manage your company’s finances

“This brings us to the second principle of cloud software providers and that is their ability to integrate with other cloud software providers. By applying this approach, it opened an entirely new market for software developers to develop their own ideas and have the ability to remain in their area of expertise. A developer that develops a point of sale system no longer have to build complex accounting controls into their software as they can now integrate their solution with the cloud accounting system that does that for them. This is done through an Application Program Interface (API) that facilitates the sharing of information between two systems. By employing this approach, the organisation receives both a point of sale and accounting system that meets their exact needs and not one system that only meet half of their requirements.”

So how do we choose?

“The days of having to compromise on business needs and system functions are over. By pivoting business systems to utilise multiple cloud systems that are integrated with each other, allows the organisation to be agile in their approach to system functions. The rapidly changing technology environment allows organisations to make use of one cloud software that meets most of their needs and then effortlessly swap it for another when one comes on the market that meets additional needs that we have.”

How does an organisation migrate from a system developed in the 1980s, that still runs on Microsoft DOS, to modern cloud technology? 

“Well, it starts with the right mindset which will lead to new ideas, innovative thinking, and innovative solutions to traditional business challenges, setting the organisation apart from the competition and building a path to a sustainable future. This mindset is what is required when changing your systems and moving to the cloud. Put aside the thinking of old. Put aside notions of needing to have one system running on big servers in the office and start opening your mind to the cloud tech that is already in the market. It can either be a source of worry or it can be the catalyst to your next 10X growth cycle. The choice is yours.”

Outsourced CFO has been selected as one of the first eleven Xero App Integrator partners in the world, launching a new brand around this offering called Integrate. You can learn more at www.appintegrate.co.za

Find out more about the author via LinkedIn.