When an organisation sets out on a review of their accounting software, it's typically for a small handful of reasons...
It could just be time to change, wanting to understand what's new in the market since their last implementation. In some other cases, the organisation has been let down by their supplier and that relationship has fallen apart.
However, in the majority of situations, the often long overdue review comes about when the business has outgrown its current software and it's no longer fit for purpose. With the problems often manifesting in the form of manual data entry, re-keying of data between increasing business systems and clunky processes that rely on offline, paper-heavy steps. All of which leads to inefficient use of staff time and inaccurate reports that take so long to collate they're out-of-date before they're even finished.
Bob is a Finance Director at a large multi-entity retail and distribution operation that was grappling with a finance system it had long outgrown. He and his team were struggling to sustain the confidence and trust of the business and the board and were regularly let down by manual processes and severe business bottlenecks, including;
Constantly feeling like they were falling behind and bogged down by heavily manual processes, the finance team and wider business were becoming demotivated and unhappy. Bob himself was at breaking point.
Eventually, Bob was able to implement a new finance system that revolutionised their business processes and lead to some significant changes:
All systems were integrated, using web-service interoperability. This meant that information was passed automatically without timely rekeying and data was reconciled in real-time, without error.
Intuitive and powerful software meant that management reporting became a simpler, quicker process. With fewer steps involved Bob was able to invest time in considering what the information was telling the business, and the best way to present recommendations for change.
With more available time to proactively direct their efforts to more effective work, debts were chased in on time, creditors were managed efficiently, and staff were able to identify further process improvements.
A swift change to the right system worked wonders for Bob and his business, but not all finance systems are created equal. If you're struggling with the pains of an overstretched finance system like Bob was and are considering a review, what should you look for, and what should you watch out for?
If your finance team is bogged down with manual data re-keying and disparate systems, working with accounting software that can share data back and forth with the rest of your business systems should be a must on your list of requirements.
While many suppliers will say their system enables integration, that integration can come in many forms. These days, true web-service interoperability is really the only way to go, which works in real-time, sharing data in 2 ways and freely connects systems regardless of supplier.
Watch out for...
When cloud first came on the scene, there were many misinformed questions around security. Often arising from simply not being able to see the server down the hall. In reality, cloud offers you economies of scale when it comes to security. You get cutting edge security systems that would be unfeasible to manage in-house, with the cost footed by your supplier.
Despite the vast opportunities for security and tech, if you were still on the fence about cloud computing, no doubt the recent shift to a remote world has convinced you. Cloud accounting software enables easy, yet highly secure access to your system from any location and any device via nothing more than a web browser.
While in the past, finance systems tended to be endless grey boxes and text-heavy screens, the surge of usability in personal tech has had a knock on to our business systems. These days, accounting software should be bold, clear and intuitive.
Combined with modern automation that reduces manual steps and electronic processes that reduce paper, you'll have faster access to the information you need, allowing you to focus on real finance rather than having to be a systems expert.
While all this talk about the intricacies of finance software can sound complex, the best thing about modern software is that you don't need to be a tech whizz to use it.
Be sure to ask the right questions now during the system review stage and you'll ensure you won't have to worry about them again. The complicated tech stuff remains behind the scenes for your supplier to take care of, while on the front end you simply get great accounting software that empowers you to focus on the finance tasks at hand without any of the tech headaches.
How to choose the right accounting software for your business
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