Good Cop, Bad Cop: Dual Roles in Consulting

Dual roles of a software consultant

Recently we acquired a client who is rather large in the manufacturing and retail sectors. The company is large enough that it was a surprise to us that they had been running their business without a solid business accounting system in place. Having done this for over twenty years now we sometimes can’t believe how people have gotten by for so long on so little. But with respect to those companies, if you have never done it any other way and its been working so far why would you feel compelled to change, right?

There are numerous companies out there that are operating under the same mindset. As we moved further and further into the process of finding out where this company’s inefficiencies were we had to tell them that the way they had been doing business was good but it could be better, much better. We told them that if they wanted to see some real improvements in the way that inventory was managed, accounts were handled and stores were run, they needed to make a financial and mental commitment to invest in a new accounting software program for their headquarters and stores.

Sharing news like this with a prospect is a perfect example of the dual roles a consultant must play: good cop, bad cop. There is nothing more we would like to do than always give our clients good news but the reality of it is that bad news is a part of our job and if we’re good at what we do, finding the bad things is well a good thing in the long run.

Over and over again we hear that time and money is the two driving forces in putting off the implementation of a new accounting system. Because of insufficient resources many companies continue to operate on old processes and off the shelf accounting programs. When we schedule our first meeting with a prospect we instruct them to have a list of needs and challenges ready for review (no company is exempt from improvement, somewhere). This list is imperative in the process as it really puts the focus on efficiency and accuracy – two components often lacking in the day to day operations; despite the opinion that everything is fine. Although our initial meeting or “discovery” as we like to call it highlights those inefficiences it also serves as an opportunity to provide those businesses with an “aah – hah” moment when they see what accounting automation can truly do for their business.

Because of the fears associated with taking on such a project many small to mid-sized businesses in need of help will pursue a cheaper solution only to find it didn’t meet their needs or expectations. This can hinder the process even more as it takes up more time and resources; two extremely valuable commodities. Our discovery meeting is always complimentary and we encourage business owners to contact us first before making any purchase. We don’t want you to throw away your time or your money on an inadequate solution; in fact we want you to pick our brains and get as much information as possible so you can make an informed decision.

Because accounting automation is so powerful and the programs that we sell are so rich with features we can say with confidence that making the decision to implement a new system will not disappoint. Finding out the what the how and the why is what we do – that is what your current processes are, how they’ve been working for you and why do you need to make a change. Once we’ve exposed all of that we are then better equipped to provide you with a before and after scenario – the best part of our job. Our two leading accounting programs are Sage MAS 90 and MAS 200; each providing the necessary tools to pull you up out of the trenches and put you at the front lines ready to meet the demands of your customer’s needs.

As for the company mentioned above, they embraced a new accounting program (MAS 90) and said they don’t know how they went so long without it. Implementing a new accounting program will save you time and money, build company morale and foster a consistent, accurate and team oriented environment.

by Kristin Balonier

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