Coosing The Right Accounting Software
For nearly 20 years I have been involved in writing accounting software and in training users on how to use both my own and other leading accounting software packages. Their knowledge when I met them for the first time ranged from being qualified accountants to those that had never even switched a computer on – let alone run an accounting software package.
Please understand that there are thousands and thousands of different accounting packages available in the world today and no single article
Is your accounting software suitable for your business
I have seen time and time again businesses that have bought a package that has been recommended by a particular software vendor or a friend or by an accountant that just can’t do the job properly.
Think about what you have bought and if it is not suitable cut your losses now. The cost to change later on is going to be far greater. You will either stick to the unsuitable package because you don’t have the time or inclination to set up yet another package or, here we go again to set up another new package later on with all of the learning curve, data input etc all over again.
I have seen companies that have changed their accounting package two or three times in as many years. What an incredible waste of time, effort and money.
If you haven’t bought a package yet make a list of your business’s requirements and make sure that the software seller actually shows you how to perform these tasks easily. If you don’t understand ask again and again.
If you work in an industry where you have requirements that are outside the normal then speak to others in your industry, see what they are using.
There are a whole lot of software companies out there that specialize in accounting software that meets the specific requirements of this or that industry.
Remember one thing in choosing your accounting software if nothing else – You can probably buy an off the shelf package from your local computer store for a few hundred dollars, whereas specialist packages probably start at a few thousand. If the few hundred dollar package is not right for your business you have wasted your money. However much you spend – invest it wisely. This initial cost is just the beginning. The software needs to do a good job for you over many years.
Most specific requirements for your business will be on the customer invoicing side. Some of the common questions that people have had in my experience are –
• I have this or that discounting or pricing structure does the package handle this situation. Even the need to show two discounts at the same time. Will the software handle this or will I have to change the way I do things.
• I sell a product that has multiple sizes per product as in the timber and glass reseller markets – can the invoice list the different tally list on one line.
• I sometimes sell the product in a bulk pack, sometimes as a single unit. Does the software cope with this as a single product or do I have to set up a several similar, but individual, products in order to invoice and to show on the invoice as I want.
The list goes on. One thing that you need to understand is that many of the software vendors out there want, or need, you to buy their package. It doesn’t really matter after the sale if it was best for you or just best for them.
Also be absolutely sure that if you aren’t absolutely sure about what you want and need it will be even harder for someone else to understand what you want and need. Sit down quietly and make a list of all the things you need. Don’t rely on being able to come up with it all when you are under pressure looking at a software demonstration.
I have had the experience of selling software and then after installation finding that the business has a specific requirement that is paramount to their business and no one thought of mentioning it. Don’t just assume that accounting software does everything. Find out.
Don’t just take the salespersons word for it. See it happen on their demonstration and understand it. Sit at the keyboard, if necessary, and drive it yourself.
If the way they work around your situation is long winded and awkward maybe you should look somewhere else. If it is too complicated for them to set it up during the demo make sure that you talk to several of their existing clients, preferably in allied industries to you, who have been with that software supplier for some time and are still happy.
There are those around that can tailor software to your specific requirements. BEWARE – this is sometimes a costly exercise at best and very often a recipe for disaster.
Be wary of using a package recommended by your accountant solely on the basis that it works in with their package, and thus reduces the work they have to do, to do your tax. Consider whose interests are being served best. Choose a package that will work efficiently for your businesses best interests 365 days a year and not your accountant’s best interests for only a couple or so weeks a year.
Understand what you are buying and how it is going to benefit your business. Understand that the software needs to work around your business and not your business around the software.
Be wary of packages written overseas – do they cater for all of your tax and accounting requirements and, most important, do they have a good support network in your country. What will happen if there are legislative changes, tax law changes and the list goes on.
If you are going on the recommendation of a friend or business collegue make sure that their business and requirements are similar to yours. Businesses and software packages are not all equal. Because it works for them doesn’t mean it will work for you.
There are countless numbers of accounting packages now available with each claiming to have a unique advantage or benefit over the others.
Be careful in your choice – it can be very easy to make an extremely costly mistake.