When looking for an accounting software package, it’s important to define your business needs before you start researching vendors. With the variety of accounting software packages available, just jumping in and researching vendors will be very overwhelming and may not be a productive way to conduct your research. When researching accounting software vendors, keep these five questions in mind to ensure you choose the right solution.
Before you begin evaluating the available solutions on the market, you should have a detailed requirements list compiled and documented. So, naturally, the first thing to do is to compare those features and functions you must have, with the ones that come standard with each accounting software solution. Any accounting software system that does not provide all the capabilities you require should be immediately removed from your short list.
An accounting software package should be considered an investment – one that can be expanded and leveraged as needed to meet your company’s requirements as they change and evolve in the future. Ask each accounting software vendor several questions about scalability. For example, how easily can the system handle additional user capacity? Can it manage increasing complexity in financial transactions and related processes? Will it allow for external access by partners, vendors, and suppliers? Will it support globalization strategies?
If an accounting software package isn’t scalable, you will more than likely end up buying a new accounting solution once your business outgrows the current one.
Integration – it’s one of the most important buzzwords you may come across when buying an accounting software package. Your financial operations impact every corner of your business. So, how well your accounting software can tie into and share data with other applications across your organization, such as sales forecasting and inventory management solutions, could mean the difference between the success and failure of your initiative.
No two companies are exactly alike, and financial procedures will vary greatly from one business to the next. That’s why flexibility and customizability are key when it comes to accounting software systems. This is particularly important in the area of financial reporting where a solution’s ability to generate accurate balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and other documents, in spite of unique or highly complex transactions and processes, is critical. Remember, the true purpose of your accounting software package is to enhance your existing financial operations, not force you to change them radically to suit the structure of the system.
Nothing will give you a more accurate picture of a certain accounting software package and its reliability than to speak directly to existing users.
Ask each vendor under consideration to put together a list of three to five current customer references. These customers must be users within your industry, with similar company profiles in order to help you paint the best picture possible of how the accounting software package will function within your organization. Be sure that the contacts on the list have been using the accounting software package for at least 13 months – you want to make sure you speak to someone who has used the application to get through a year-end closing.