14 Nov Account System Selection
Accounting System Selection
Within our own business and in the businesses of our clients, there seems to be a couple of general themes:
The situation: Software is becoming more specialized and less expensive. It is now possible to automate many of the repetitive tasks that previously required extensive time, paperwork, or spreadsheets. The problem is that many businesses are ending up with fragmented systems that do not talk effectively to each other. There are more and more developers with the skills and tools to bridge these gaps, but often this decision is equivalent to placing a band aid on a flow of blood, rather than investigating the problem back to the source.
Our solution: We believe the first step is to take a step back and really look at what functionality is needed, how these needs are currently being solved, and what is the plan as it relates to integration in the future. Don’t forget to include everything from the accounting software, customer relationship management, spreadsheets, eCommerce solutions (including the cart, the gateway, etc.), operational management systems and anything used in the business.
How to do this: The most effective way we have found to deal with this issue within our own business and as we work with more clients on these issues is to create a simple Excel spreadsheet. Across the columns list the system: software or service filling the need, and include an additional column for what is being done manually or on paper. The rows are the functional needs of the business. Don’t forget to include any “wish list” information. If the document is used as a decision making tool in the future, it is important to not only know what you are getting and what you are giving up, but what you would like to include.
The benefit: This becomes a working document that serves several purposes:
- It is an easy way to see if systems are being used as effectively as possible
- Often any overlap of services will be easily identified
- As an additional functional need is encountered, rather than looking for a solution for this new problem, look at what is currently in place to see if there are features that could be implemented, or, if a change is going to be required, can the new system include some of the functionality of an existing system.
- If a change is necessary, this document ensures that key functional components are not overlooked.
Summary: While we love QuickBooks and the availability of solutions from third party developers has expanded the functionality in ways we could have never imagined, it is important to look at the business goals and critical success factors to determine a plan going forward. This may mean something as easy as a custom bridge program to fill a functional duplication in the current business process. Or it may mean making decisions with the long term goal of implementing a system that fills more of the functional and size requirements so the business is managed from one data base.