By Adam Bluemner of www.FindAccountingSoftware.com
Adam Bluemner is the Project Specialist Manager with FindAccountingSoftware.com, a company specializing in helping businesses find the right software for their needs. In his free time, Adam avidly follows his favorite Wisconsin sports teams and is working on convincing his daughters to do the same.
Let's be honest. No one really likes having to find a new accounting software package. It can be time-consuming and tedious. But that doesn't change the fact that it is one of your most important purchase decisions.
FindAccountingSoftware.com has been helping companies make the right decision on software for over 12 years. We've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. The following 3 software selection tips may not guarantee you'll make the right decision. Your own careful and thoughtful evaluation will have to do that. But, these 3 tips will get you a long ways toward the goal of finding a great accounting software solution.
Eliminate the idea that accounting software is a commodity
Buying accounting software is not a commodity purchase, it's an investment.
It's human nature to view a good purchase as the one that costs the least amount upfront. But that thinking can take you in the wrong direction. Really, the goal isn't to spend the least on the tool. The goal is to spend the least on the job, as a whole. In this case, the job is your accounting and financial management. If you purchase an insufficient tool, the reality is your labor costs will simply increase to overcome the insufficiencies of that tool. For most companies, the labor costs far outweigh the investment in the software tool. They're just harder to see because they are spread out over time.
Your accounting software investment is in large part an investment in automation--in long term savings. This is where a good software vendor can help. Where can you create efficiencies? How much will it save your company if you are 20% or 50% more efficient running payroll, processing checks, creating quotes and invoices, or putting together key financial reports?
Don't be shy about posing these questions directly to your prospective software vendor. They need to provide you with these answers. Then, you can not only find the tool that costs the least upfront, but the one that is most successful in lowering the bottom line. And, that's what any good business investment is all about.
Utilize your vendors to your competitive advantage
There are lots of reasons your company may have started its software search. Perhaps you are addressing a lack of functionality. Maybe you are looking for increased data integration. Or, you could just be replacing a now unsupported product.
Whatever the reason you've started your review, make sure to look beyond just that motivation. Software vendors can be a resource here. How often do you really get an objective, 3rd party look into your key business processes? Likely, not very often.
Your software vendor, on the other hand, has the advantage of seeing what's working and what's not in the market at large. Actively seek out their input. Are there new ways of receiving payments, managing inventory, tracking key performance indicators, accessing emerging markets? Your software vendor can and should offer you these insights.
Become a reference
Every software provider wants to ensure you that you will be their highest priority as a client. But, how can you ensure that happens?
Offering to be a customer reference or even a case-study is a great way to ensure top-notch service. What business isn't looking for a customer eager to be a reference? If your clients offered to be a reference for you, wouldn't you jump at the opportunity? Further, if you know that one of your clients is going to be a great reference for you, wouldn't you work just that much harder for them? Software vendors will too. Sure, it's a simple suggestion, but the best ones often are!