Selecting an Accounting Package Post 1Thursday, March 31, 2011 5:23
It is always amazing to me just how many resellers and VAR’s in the channel are looking for an accounting software program that will fit the needs of their unique business.
Finding the right package is critical to the ongoing operation of your company.
However, when it comes to making a choice, it is important to do your homework. Your accounting system is or should be the information backbone of your company. It is imperative to be able to access accurate data quickly and easily in an understandable format in order to make educated business decisions. The following steps can be used as a guideline to help you analyze your company’s needs, compare your needs against the packages under review, evaluate the manufacturers and resellers and make a selection.
Step One: Analyze Your Company’s Needs
To begin the process of selecting a new accounting software package you first need to analyze your company’s needs. Knowing what information is needed, the form of the data to be input and the basic business processes will aid in this area. You will also need to evaluate your present and desired reporting mechanisms; what reports are produced, what information is required and what data is necessary to operate your business effectively.
Flow-charting the workflow as it travels through your company and documenting procedures will help you determine the critical areas that need attention. Keep your eyes open to improvements and efficiencies that may be possible if the workflow and procedures where designed differently.
Involve as many employees as possible in the process to determine your needs.
The staff’s opinions as to what functionality and reports they need to make their jobs easier, more productive and efficient are usually more on target than management’s because they are in the trenches doing the work every day.
While interviewing key employees, keep asking which systems they use, what manual processes do they currently perform that could be incorporated into the accounting software package, what do they like or dislike about the current accounting system, and what types of data, information or reports do they need. All of this information can be filtered down into the basic “functionality requirements”.
Management also needs to address some fundamental questions, such as:
Why are you looking for an Accounting System?
What is the scope of the project?
What is your time frame to implement?
What are the future plans of management, such as opening other locations or hiring additional employees?
How many people will be using the system? Currently? Future?
What is your budget?
How fast is your company growing?
What operating system are you running your accounting system on?
What is the best system for your company’s future?
Will you need to upgrade hardware?
Once the needed features and functionalities are defined, you will want to prioritize them based upon what you absolutely must have, would prefer to have, and what would be nice to have but is not necessary. Unfortunately, no accounting software package will meet 100 percent of your needs or wants; but it should meet at least 80 percent of your requirements.
A list of standard functionalities that your system should have is in Illustration A. Use this list to help you further define the functionality you must have in an accounting system.