Changing from one accounting software product to another used to be a major business disruption and not a decision to be undertaken lightly but accounting software providers are now concentrating on making the process much easier in an effort to entice customers to switch products.
Generally it’s a reasonably simple process to convert your lists – customers, suppliers, items, chart of accounts etc. from one system to another as it is usually simple enough to export from one system into an Excel spreadsheet, map the fields to the new system and import it but the complexity comes in converting transactions and opening balances and that’s where expert assistance is needed.
Initially data conversion was dominated by Xero as it sought to entice MYOB and QuickBooks customers across but as new suppliers such as Intuit with QuickBooks Online have entered the Australian the market, the availability of data conversion services has become a must-have feature. Xero, Intuit and Saasu have all indicated that sizeable percentages of their new customers are migrating from another existing software reinforcing the importance of data conversion services.
Until recently data conversion was all about moving from desktop to cloud software, but MYOB is now more confident about its hybrid cloud solution and last month announced that it had created a conversion tool which it has distributed to accountant and bookkeeper partners to assist in moving businesses from Xero to MYOB. MYOB is obviously targeting customers who may be dissatisfied with Xero for one reason or another, possibly prompted because Xero has poached a number of MYOB customers. However Xero has just released its Purchase Order module which looks to be reasonably comprehensive and the two other major functionality gaps – Quotes and Inventory are scheduled for release in the first half of 2014 so reasons to convert from Xero to MYOB could well be reducing.
Most of the conversions require the services of third party suppliers although Xero does have sections in its online Help on Starting with Xero after Using a Spreadsheet followed by a section on converting from another system. It also has a very helpful QuickBooks to Xero conversion guide – this is based on the US version of QuickBooks and Xero but looks like it will work on Australian versions of both and is only if you seriously want to go it alone. Xero has a range of partners who will convert from just about any platform to Xero. QuickBooks Online provides one partner.
Interestingly Reckon Accounts does not look as though it will be developing any specific conversion functionality to bring customers back to their fold and when the long awaited Reckon One is finally released, the only data conversion functionality expected in the short term is to convert from Reckon Accounts to Reckon One – so keeping it totally within the family
Although there are plenty of options to assist you through the data conversion process, it is still preferable to select the best software initially and plan to stay with that for several years. Trial software versions mean that you have the opportunity to carry out a thorough road test and identify key areas where business requirements are not met or where the software may not suit expected business growth. It is worth putting time and effort into the selection decision as selecting inappropriate software means that either you will be wasting time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole or you will have to bite the bullet and make the change. The actual data conversion is only one part of the whole process, you will need to retrain existing users, rewrite procedures and ensure that you have the continued support of your bookkeeper and/or accountant.
However if you do need to change your accounting software for good reason, then there is plenty of assistance.