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Why Is Fixing a COA So Difficult - and What Makes It Easier?

Designing a chart of accounts is not simple. Redesigning one after your company has been in business for years or decades is even harder! COA remediation poses many challenges, and it’s no wonder financial leaders put off this project for a future time. 

Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Revamp Your COA

Redesigning a COA is a career boosting move. Imagine having a system that works smoothly:

  • No more reporting errors
  • No more manual workarounds
  • Allocations are automatic
  • Integrations are easier
  • Closing is faster
  • Auditing fees are reduced

It’s not just about what works better for your business and your department. We routinely see financial leaders receiving promotions and bonuses after working with us to redesign their COA. 

Top 4 Challenges of DIY COA Remediation

Trying to redesign a chart of accounts on your own is daunting. Here are several areas of concern for CFOs, finance directors, and controllers.

Overwhelming Scope and Complexity

The structure of the new COA may be quite different from the old one, The criteria for mapping the old to the new may be complex and difficult to manage. Besides the typical one-to-one account mappings, companies may also require that:

  • Companies be combined
  • Business units be split
  • Subsidiaries captured in a different segment
  • Object codes be derived from sub-ledger codes
  • And so forth 

Identifying and managing these requirements is a heavy lift. 

Here’s another common problem. When data records are combined, record keys may be duplicated. This situation needs remediation. What initially appears to be a straight-forward conversion can become very complex, expanding both the scope and timeline. 

Not Enough People and Time

A COA redesign and conversion project requires time and focus. It limits the availability of staff for day-to-day operations. For example, the COA and related schema, i.e., company, business unit, object account, etc., pervade an integrated ERP database in both the transaction and master data tables. 

A typical JD Edwards installation might include more than 150 of these tables, all of which must be converted. That means extensive development and an exhaustive QA process. It’s natural to be apprehensive about committing key staff members to a project of this magnitude. Resource constraints aren’t easy to overcome.

Risks around Data Governance and Compliance

Making changes to a financial database entails strict adherence to data management requirements. Changes to production databases can potentially impact financial data and such activities are subject to audit scrutiny. Without solid methodologies and significant experience, CFOs are left vulnerable in the area of SOX compliance. 

Downtime and Disruption to Business Operations

An integrated ERP database often exceeds hundreds of millions of records. That means LONG execution times when you are deploying a broad data conversion such as a redesigned COA. Your organization’ can’t afford to lose access to the ERP during operational hours. Even doing lengthy conversions after hours is problematic. 

It’s tempting for companies to want to deploy a COA conversion at the end of the year. That seems like a natural point to have a clean transition from an old system or framework to a new one. Of course, as a finance leader, this is your busiest time of year. You are trying to close the year, deal with auditors, and finalize the budget. 

While there’s no ideal time to do a COA redesign, the worst option is to keep putting off this important project. Here’s what makes it easier for you and your team.

Use a Proven COA Redesign & Conversion Process with Expert Support

Most financial professionals have participated in only one or two COA redesigns in their entire career. It’s not surprising that this makes it hard to learn on the fly how to do it well. Working with an organization that has done many of these projects creates a much easier path to a successful outcome. 

At ACBM, our experts have redesigned and converted more than 50 COAs for a wide variety of organizations. As a result, we know what works for immediate remediation that will stand the test of time as your organization changes and grows. The process is based around four basic principles:

1. Standardized Methodology

Step 1: COA redesign 

- Assessment of your current COA and its ability to support management’s reporting requirements
- Design and prototyping for refinement, approval, and documentation

Step 2: Data Conversion

- Installation of proven data conversion software for your ERP system
- Custom conversion rules and configuration of pre-existing templates
- Mapping based on COA design changes
- Trial conversions executed in “proof” mode to find and correct all errors
- Data validation and testing
- Staff training to use the new COA correctly
- System conversion and go live

2. Efficient Project Cycle

Best practices that streamline processes greatly reduce the time required for a COA conversion. We front load activities such as testing mappings by converting in “proof” mode to find and correct errors earlier and ensure a smooth validation. Technology tools accelerate mapping the old account structure to the new one and reducing the need for technical support and preventing duplicate records during conversion.

3. Conversion Management Via Web Interface

Using an intuitive web interface, users easily develop conversion rules for handling both simple and complex conversion requirements. The rules are stored in a collaborative central repository, and this allows user teams to create, edit, and view all conversion logic in one place.

4. Fast Execution without Business Disruption

Execution times and cutover timing can be gauged precisely using real benchmarks. This makes it easier to plan and deploy conversions in much less time than traditional methods. It’s normal for our COA conversions to run over a weekend without any disruption to normal business operations. The conversion can be deployed at any time during the fiscal year, avoiding the year-end financial rush.

Are you ready to capture the benefits of an ideally designed COA without the risk and disruption? We’re here to help. Contact us for a consultation today.

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