Is it Time for a System Update?

Is it Time for a System Update? 
Advancing Technology is Requiring Business Owners to Consider Options 

Mindy Barker | Barker Associates

So much of business, and life, has changed. Much of that change has to do with reacting to the pandemic and its resulting disruption to normal business practices. Still other changes have been brought about by our own internal shifting needs and wants. And nearly all changes have some advancing technology component attached to them. In fact, technology’s growing role in businesses of all sizes is requiring us all to reconsider more advanced systems, software, and processes.  

The question is—How many businesses have truly kept up with this transformation? Are they ready for yet another change or are they using old processes with an equally old thought process—if it’s not broke, don’t fix it? If it’s the latter, I would argue that when those processes are truly aged-out, they are, in fact, broken.  

The Challenges of Using Outdated Systems 

It’s understandable—change makes most people uncomfortable, especially when it comes with a perceived hefty price tag attached. Yet, what they often don’t consider are the costs associated with doing nothing. In this case, the costs associated with continued reliance on outdated systems and processes.  

Challenges with the continued use of outdated systems are plentiful. A few of the most common pain points include lack of information accessibility, timeliness, quality, delayed reporting, noncompliance, and missing out on recruiting opportunities because the company appears outdated and behind the times. And the “band-aid” solution of getting a new system, while attempting to transfer old processes to it is also problematic. In those instances, the new system is not able to function as it should, resulting in even more costly inefficiencies. 

The Importance of Due Diligence 

Deciding when the “right time” is to update a system has always been challenging, but probably never quite as challenging as it is today. With so many technological advances thrown at us at once (and across nearly every department), it’s no wonder some are confused about which way to turn. But the decision starts, as all should, with proper due diligence.  

Due diligence helps us to avoid making a quick (and often costly) decision in a time of need. With careful consideration, we may find that we don’t need an entire new system after all, but just some adjustments to what we currently have. But we won’t know if we don’t take the time to do our homework first. Some improvements and enhancements can be done without any purchases whatsoever. It all depends on what is currently in place and the goals and objectives involved. Asking the following questions is a good start: 

  • Where can improvements be made?  
  • What else is out there?  
  • What are our competitors doing? 
  • Is there anything that can be done to improve our current systems and processes? 
  • What are the benefits of the new system?  
  • Are we able to devote the time and resources required to implement this new system properly? 

This last question is extremely important. As with any update, it’s not only about the system, but also the process to use that system. You can have the newest, most up-to-date technology, but if the team was not properly trained and a new standard operating procedure not created, the new system will not produce the results it was expected to. Additionally, the team may enter data incorrectly, resulting in error-prone reports and potentially costing the company even more money. For example, if it relates to a compliance issue, the company could incur penalties and interest as a result of these inaccuracies. It’s crucial that everything pertaining to that system be updated at the same time in order to reap the benefits. 

Currently, some of the most common considerations when deciding whether to update to a new system involve automation and cloud software. 


Too many business leaders spend too much time completing mundane, everyday tasks that are repetitive and simple. Not only is this inefficient, but it is also not cost effective. Automation is the single best way to solve this problem. It allows employees to complete manual tasks at the click of a mouse, freeing up their time to work on more important matters. 

Cloud Software 

We saw firsthand during the pandemic how connectivity and access to information were keys to keeping our doors open. In most instances, this can only be achieved with cloud-based technology. With more people continuing to work remotely, at least some component of this may become more of a necessity than a luxury going forward. 

With all of the changes we’re experiencing, businesses should review their current processes or have a third party come in to get a professional, outside perspective prior to making any decisions regarding updates and/or purchasing new systems. The costs of keeping the current system should be compared to the costs of purchasing a new one, considering not just the monetary value, but other benefits, such as better security, increased efficiency, increased compatibility, more satisfied teams and customers, and reduced costs. If the decision is made to purchase a new system, a strategic plan for implementation should be created, including new processes and training, so that the business propels forward uninterrupted.  

Barker Associates provides strategic guidance and outsourced CFO services to companies of all sizes. We can provide the higher level of strategy your company needs to grow, including advising on systems and process updates. If you need assistance, or have any other questions, please click here to schedule a 30-minute consultation at a rate of $100.  

To eat eggs or not – that is the question.

Mindy Barker | Barker Associates

Those of us who work to manage our cholesterol have received conflicting information about eating eggs. I grew up loving eggs, but then, as an adult, I was told not to eat them due to high cholesterol.

Then the nutrition experts decided you can eat egg whites. Now it is back to eat your eggs – yolk and all – the last time I spoke with a nutritionist. Confusing.

Deciding if you are going to outsource a function within an organization is about as confusing. The trends go back and forth on that issue too. Advances in technology and lower costs of offshore professionals have made the idea of outsourcing more attractive in some cases. 

I have some advice, gained over my years as CFO in various organizations, for you to consider while you evaluate the idea of outsourcing financial functions:

Don’t try to fix a broken process by outsourcing it. Do not outsource a recurring, detail-oriented process that is currently broken. Get the best consultant you can afford working to fix the process. Make certain the expert who fixes the process creates a training manual on how the process should run and trains an internal staff person on it. You may discover during this process it is easier for you to keep that process going with your own employees or you may decide you want to outsource the detail part of it to an outside, less costly resource. The bottom line is that if you do not understand your own process, you cannot know if a third party is accurately performing it on your behalf.

Get organized. Organize your data in a way that you can provide it to the outside party prior to engaging them. If you cannot make sense of your data, you can end up paying a third party a lot of money to do it for you.

One of the areas I’ve seen this as an issue is with State Sales Tax. Compliance in this area is about as difficult as hanging upside down from a tall tree branch while flossing your teeth. Companies get frustrated with the complicated process of filing state sales taxes, especially when multiple states, or states with complicated calculations and forms are involved. For example, are you capturing sales revenue based on the billing address or the shipping address? You must have accurate data before outsourcing it for someone else to handle.

My recommendation is to invest in upgrading your IT infrastructure. Regardless of whether you are outsourcing compliance with state sales tax or another process, you must be in a position to produce data in an organized manner that a third party can accept and act on.

When you do decide to outsource a portion of your business, make sure you keep the data and regularly backup the data the outsourced agency is using. Make sure you still know where your information is and how to get to it if the outsourced entity suddenly goes out of business. Perform routine oversight of the work being done by the third party. This is even more important today in this every changing business world.

Just-in Time Experts. Expertise that you need infrequently is a great area to consider outsourcing. Many third parties provide outsourced IT, legal, human resource, or financial expertise to augment internal resources and are less costly than hiring the expertise full time. You may only require specialized expertise for specific projects rather than an on-going need.

Outsourcing these functions is not without its drawbacks. For example, let’s say your obsolete, no-one-has-ever-heard-of information system gets hacked and you have no in-house expert who is familiar with your system. Hiring an expert to support obscure software can be costly and time intensive to get your problem solved.

Or perhaps legal expertise is something you only require occasionally. You decide to download a customer contract from the internet instead of hiring legal expertise to prepare your standard contract. If you get in a nonpayment dispute with one of your major customers and then bring in legal to help you, you may discover that the customer contract you downloaded for free from the internet will not allow you to properly recover the revenue you are due. Now the outside lawyer has to clean up the mess you made by not hiring them on the front end to prepare a sound contract.

My point is that it is essential the right expertise performs the company’s core functions in every business. The laws and regulation in these areas change rapidly and you need someone to help you stay compliant and out of trouble.

Barker Associates provides outsourced Chief Financial Officer services on a fractional or full-time basis in the event of a transition. Fractional services work best during times of fast paced growth, a new system implementation, a merger, or an acquisition. Even with a full time CFO on board, they have a day job and these types of changes require a unique focus and background. Our extensive and diverse background helps guide the organization through the change.

During a transition time, Barker Associates uses their expertise to assist the organization with designing a job description and interviewing candidates for the new position. Once your new CFO, Accountant or other financial professional is onboard, Barker Associates exits until you bring us back for the next big project.

If you are considering outsourcing a financial process within your organization and would like to discuss specific areas of concern, I would love to speak with you. Click here to schedule a 30-minute free consultation to discuss your unique situation.