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9 tips for a successful cloud accounting ERP implementation for your FQHC

Feb 09, 2023

A modern cloud accounting enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is a powerful tool for Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). It gives your FQHC visibility to monitor compliance, grants and profitability. This allows you to make on-time strategic decisions that improve processes and increase productivity so that you can focus on what matters most — your patients.

To realize measurable outcomes from your accounting ERP, preparation is key. An effective implementation plan requires a close look at your processes and people.

You need to be willing to recognize your teams’ organizational inefficiencies. That includes taking an honest assessment of your staff size and their ability to accept change and adapt to new technology.

Dive deep into your team’s daily financial routines. Are they moving data from system to system, manually keying in data and relying heavily on spreadsheets? You should also revisit your organizational processes to identify any that are old, manual and repetitive.

A lack of planning will result in limited functionality. Your financial team could still unify data, but without the ability to generate reports or break out that data in a meaningful way, you are right back where you started. A poorly managed transition may also prove to overburden staff and result in a legacy system 2.0, in which none of your processes change.

With the right forethought, you can maximize the benefits of a modern cloud accounting ERP. Here are nine tips for implementation success:

Tip 1: Reimagine your existing processes

With planning, you measure twice and cut once. With ERP implementation, the assessment phase is when you measure twice.

When setting up an accounting ERP, start with the end in mind. Consider the current state of your organization, and then imagine the desired future state.

More specifically, ask yourself how, when, where and why you need to see financial or statistical data in reports and dashboards. What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that you desperately need to make timely, strategic decisions?

In assessing, lean in with your implementation partner to discuss and identify inefficient processes. Redesign them to align with best practices in using your accounting ERP. It’s your opportunity to align value streams such as the chart of accounts, procure to pay and budgeting with your organization’s best practices, goals and objectives.

Organizations that deeply engage during the assessment phase receive more value from the accounting ERP investment each year, ensuring scalability for years to come.

Tip 2: Consider integrations with existing mission-critical systems

An accounting ERP can help you unify data across your organization. Without integration, you may find yourself completing redundant tasks and manually entering information, since systems such as your electronic medical records (EMR) application and your financial and statistical data won’t be readily available.

When researching other mission-critical applications, look for solutions that will integrate with your accounting ERP. For example, with Sage Intacct, you can use EMRConnect to seamlessly pull data from your EMR application, allowing for in-depth dashboards and reporting across key financial and statistical data.

In addition, if you are considering making changes to other mission-critical applications, be sure to think about your internal resource bandwidth and similar competing projects. Simultaneous projects can be challenging for organizations to manage successfully, particularly for those with a smaller staff.

You can also discuss multiple projects with your implementation partner so that you don’t experience rework. For example, if you are adding a new accounting ERP and a payroll system, you’ll want the chart of accounts to coincide with payroll, so that the payroll data integrates to the right place in the accounting ERP. A general rule to follow is to implement a new accounting ERP first.

Tip 3: Determine your desired reporting outcomes

For any organization, there are certain data and KPIs you’ll need when analyzing organizational performance. Establishing those early on will make the implementation process more successful overall.

During early planning and discussions with your implementation partner, determine the measurable outcomes required for your organizational success. What insights will allow you to make timely, accurate and data-driven decisions with confidence?

Desired, measurable outcomes may include items such as:

  • Detailed visit actuals and budgets for billed, unbilled, proper inclusion, by payer, by department or by visit type.
  • Detailed costs per visit.
  • Net patient revenue per visit.
  • Unduplicated patients.

Tip 4: Federal funding and grant considerations

The right accounting ERP can help you manage grants, including everything from monitoring and reporting compliance to tracking billing and expenses.

An ERP centralizes all the necessary documents, making data and reports readily available and saving your team hours in manual work.

Put forward thought into an ideal grant position report format, particularly if you are currently using Excel and manually tracking. Consider what level of support and detail your organization needs and discuss it with your implementation partner.

Tip 5: Get ahead of year-end reporting

Don’t underestimate the importance of your schedule of expenditures of federal awards (SEFA) reporting.

Discuss SEFA in the early phases of your implementation project. It’s more efficient to decide up front how you want it organized and let the implementation partner incorporate the appropriate fields into the reports from the start.

Also, while considering your yearly reporting requirements, ask about other reports such as your functional expense report. This minimizes the time and effort spent on manual input or manipulating your Excel spreadsheets, helping your team operate more efficiently.

Tip 6: Use a business intelligence tool for UDS reporting

Uniform data system (UDS) reporting is another complex reporting need that you can carefully consider incorporating into an ERP implementation.

UDS reporting requires information from multiple sources, such as patient data from an EMR, with financial data from your ERP. To assist with this, discuss implementing a business intelligence tool with your implementation partner.

The right tool will automatically aggregate data for you, giving you more unified access to the necessary information.

Tip 7: Be strategic about user adoption of change

Before implementation, think about how an ERP will impact everyone in your organization. During discovery sessions, involve all users and stakeholders.

This gives your implementation partner all the information needed to set up your configuration settings and workflows efficiently.

You should also leverage change management services, to aid the accounting ERP transition and help ensure employee adoption. Great communication is a first step, but it doesn’t address emotions.

Consider a change management model such as the ADKAR model. ADKAR stands for awareness, desire, knowledge, ability and reinforcement. Find an implementation partner who can assist in helping you formally align your employees with organizational changes, setting you up for a successful transformation.

Tip 8: Give your team time

One common mistake that organizations make when implementing an accounting ERP is underestimating how much time it takes.

Consider all of the tasks necessary for implementation. You’ll have to get your implementation partner up to speed on your processes, relay requirements, complete data migration and complete training and testing. All of that could easily take 15–25% of your time on a weekly basis.

You don’t want to overload your people with those tasks in addition to their regular workload.

Give your organization enough time to make the transition efficiently. You can also consider hiring temporary employees or outsourcing accounting resources to alleviate some of the burden.

Tip 9: Test and train before you launch

It’s crucial to spend as much time as possible training and testing in the system before it is live.

Doing so gives your people a useful opportunity to familiarize themselves with the system. There is a high correlation between time spent testing and a relatively smooth go-live transition for users at all levels.

It’s also the ideal time to determine whether the system works as intended. You’ll be able to identify any issues with reports or transactions, so that your consultants can resolve them.

Be proactive with Wipfli

Wipfli is here to help ensure that your organization is getting the most out of your accounting ERP. Our team has the knowledge and experience that you need and can partner with you in delivering a successful accounting ERP implementation plan.

Contact us today for more on how we can support you in achieving your desired outcomes.

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Author(s)

Stephanie M. Smith
Manager, Healthcare
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Rebecca A. Hurst, CPA
Senior Manager
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Shanice R. York, CPA
Senior Manager
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