10 tips to speed up transferring data from spreadsheets to your finance system

Posted by  Sjoerd-Jaap Westra

Spreadsheets that are used to collate data become large and cumbersome. Many small businesses use them as their first choice when they first get started. They are inexpensive and easy to use with different amounts of data. Businesses can easily adapt a spreadsheet using Microsoft Excel or another leading solution to meet their needs by adding fields and organizing data in a way that is easy to understand.

Unfortunately, something happens when your business becomes more successful. Once your organization grows, so much data is generated that it makes manipulating data and creating accurate financial statements a time-consuming task. Many of these organizations eventually accept that they need to transition to a financial system. Before you start the process of migrating, here are 10 tips to speed up transferring data from spreadsheets to a finance system.

Tip #1: Evaluate what kind of information you need

Often, businesses fall into the trap where they utilize the same systems for many years without considering how they function. Only when a problem arises do many organizations evaluate what part of their internal procedures went awry.

The period of transitioning your existing financial spreadsheets into a finance system provides a great opportunity to really look at the financial processes for your business. Evaluate what information you currently gather, how that information is used and what additional information would be beneficial.

Tip #2: Determine whether you need all of the data

Before you start the process of transferring data from existing spreadsheets to a new finance system, consider whether you need historical data going forward. You may have used your existing database system for the past 10 years. Ask yourself if you need all 10 years worth of data to transition into the new system. If not, you can start from a specific date and only move those files over.

Tip #3: Create a transition plan

Just like anything else in business, you need a plan to be successful when transitioning data over to a new finance system. Analyze the type and volume of data to be transitioned. Decide if it makes more sense to attempt a mass transition or a slow and gradual process. Most companies benefit from a gradual and well thought-out process. However, there are instances where a quicker transition might be the better option. An example of this would be if the data is used regularly and needs to be accessible in its entirety, even throughout the transition.

Tip #4: Allow for extra time

Regardless of how you choose to transition the data over, allow extra time in your plans. Something unexpected may come up and you don't want to be caught off guard. By anticipating that the project may take a little extra time, you may be pleasantly surprised with an earlier than planned finish.

Tip #5: Contact an expert

Often the most efficient way to tackle a large-scale transition or implementation project is to speak directly with an expert. They will already understand potential pitfalls and help you avoid making them. Try to contact the company who sold you the software to see if they have anyone available. You can also check with other business owners in your circle that may have already completed their own transitions.

Tip #6: Use tested products

If you utilize an existing and well-known product, such as Unit4's Consolidation software, many kinks and training-related issues will be worked out in advance. Often, existing software platforms offer the features you need without the expense or hassle of creating a custom solution for your organization.

Tip #7: Pick the right product to begin with

There are many wonderful software products available on the market capable of managing your finance system. Despite this, all financial systems are not the same. While one system may work for one company, it may not work the same way for your business. Make sure the system you pick meets your exact needs.

Tip #8: Break it up into sections

When you plan to transition your data from spreadsheets to an accounting system, make a list of milestones you need to achieve. Include steps like picking out the right product, testing the system and training end users. This list will ease some of the stress associated with the migration.

Tip #9: Remember the long-term benefits

It is easy to forget the reasons why you are transitioning to a new system in the middle of the process. Whenever you question if the process is worth it, try to remember all of those benefits of switching to a new accounting system, including increased accuracy, better analytics and a streamlined business process.

Tip #10: Prepare your team

Most likely you aren't transitioning to a new financial system alone. Consider how you want to prepare your team to help in the transition. You have two types of people to prepare as part of your transition: There are the team members who will help you migrate information over, and then there are also end users of the software programs selected. Try to get feedback from these groups early in the process so they remain more invested over the long run.

Sjoerd-Jaap Westra

Sjoerd-Jaap Westra

Within global product marketing of Unit4, Sjoerd-Jaap is responsible for the 'Office of the CFO' suite. This suite contains best-in-class solutions for financial management, planning & control management, and corporate performance management.


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