Finding the right accounting software package for your company can seem like a monumental task. There are hundreds of different vendors and thousands of different applications to choose from. So, what should you look for when purchasing an accounting software system?
Before you begin evaluating accounting software solutions, you’ll need to build a list of your key requirements, so you know exactly what you are looking for.
Talking to your end users and understanding their challenges and their needs will help you determine what capabilities your accounting software must have, so you can make the best possible choice.
Financial and accounting software systems must often share data with a variety of other business applications.
For example, accounting software should be integrated with any payroll management system implemented within your human resources department. And, if your company sells a manufactured product, your accounting software must be able to link with any inventory management systems you have. Look for a solution with an open and flexible architecture, so that it can integrate seamlessly into your existing technology environment.
The financial management processes of global businesses vary greatly from those that operate on a national or local scale. Some, but not all, accounting software packages provide the functionality needed to support cross-continent financial transactions.
If your company conducts business internationally, be sure to look for a solution that has multi-currency and multiple language capabilities, as well as in-depth support for any other global financial activities you conduct.
Your financial data is some of the most sensitive and confidential information your company maintains. Therefore, security is of the utmost importance when choosing an accounting software package, especially if you plan to make the solution accessible via the Web.
Look for advanced security features such as role-based login authentication, revolving passwords, and data encryption to keep your financial data as secure as possible.
Once you’ve narrowed the list down to the handful of accounting software applications that meet all your needs, you’ll want to see each one in action.
Have each sales rep give you a live walk-through of their offerings, and make sure they focus on those features that are most important to your company. Be wary of canned or pre-recorded demos, or of sales reps who try to divert your attention to capabilities and functions you really don’t need.
Demonstrations don’t always provide the most complete picture. If you want to really know how an accounting software package will work, you’ll need to test-drive it yourself.
Ask each vendor to let you trial the software for 60 to 90 days. This will give you a better idea of how well each accounting software solution will meet your needs once it’s fully deployed.
The more robust and feature-rich accounting software programs can cost tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the size of your business.
While accounting software is always a smart investment that is sure to deliver solid returns, you’ll still want to negotiate the best possible price with the vendor you choose. Use the vendor’s standard discount, not the software list price, as the starting point for your negotiations.
Offering to serve as a reference once your solution is implemented can also net you a sizeable discount. And, don’t forget to try to score savings on add-on services such as training and maintenance.