Ready to buy an accounting package, but not sure where to start? For many organizations, evaluating the various available solutions on the market can be a rather complicated process. Vendor sales pitches, demos, trials, and reference checks can all be very confusing for buyers, and they can make it quite difficult to determine which accounting package is the best choice.
Although financial management requirements – and the tools needed to effectively support them – will vary greatly from one organization to the next, there are certain core features and capabilities within many accounting packages that every company will need to keep an eye out for.
So what should you be looking for when purchasing an accounting package?
Financial operations are becoming increasingly complex and multi-faceted. Therefore, the accounting package you choose must provide full support for the widest range of transactions and activities, such as accounts receivable and debt collection, accounts payable, general ledger, billing and invoicing, purchase order and sales order processing and tracking, and investment and asset management.
In today’s world of financial management, it’s all about reporting – and any accounting package you’re considering must have robust functionality in this area. Sarbanes-Oxley, BASEL II, and other stringent regulatory guidelines are putting mounting pressure on financial executives to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of published financial information.
Additionally, companies need the ability to conduct in-depth analysis of accounting data and track mission-critical financial metrics to gain an understanding of corporate performance, identify the critical patterns and trends that most impact the business, and develop more informed and successful strategies. Therefore, powerful and flexible reporting and analysis capabilities are of the utmost importance when selecting an accounting software package.
There are many vital business systems that exist across your organization – supply chain solutions, sales force automation applications, inventory management systems, and many more. And, your accounting package will need to seamlessly integrate with the majority of them in order to ensure rapid collaboration and information-sharing among multiple departments, as well as the execution of smooth, problem-free transactions across the enterprise.
Choosing a flexible accounting package that can easily plug into your existing architecture will help to minimize deployment time and save you a tremendous amount of money by allowing you to avoid the steep costs associated with custom integration projects.
For many businesses, support for simple accounting transactions and basic financial management tasks is just not enough. Many companies require full automation of employee expense management, corporate and departmental budget management, payroll and time sheet management, purchase requisition management, and other more complex financial activities. A viable accounting package should offer these as “add-on” modules, allowing companies to include this type of functionality in their financial management environment when the time comes, because even if your company doesn’t need these types of advanced capabilities now, it may require support in these areas as it grows in the future.