Technology is a great enabler for SMEs today. What used to happen on clunky spreadsheets and with limited functions happens on cloud servers in real-time. SMEs have also relied on digitization to do more with less. Accounting is one such area that faces a lot of challenges, and you are likely to be looking for tools that will help you. Having a technology backing is also important when you consider the aspects of scale and cost. Having a tool does solve half the problems that you face now. But if you are not choosing the right tool, you are only likely to make your jobs that bit harder. There are several accounting software options that you can choose from. Making the choice that works well for you is the key to having a successful implementation and adoption.
Here are some of the key aspects to consider when you are choosing accounting software.
One of the other considerations stems from the type of business you run. If you are a niche business requiring a set of custom features that applies to your business alone, off-the-shelf tools may not work. However, there are certain software that have been built for these niches too.
For example, if you run a business in the hospitality sector, you likely have specific accounting needs that can’t be met by the tools already in the market. In this case, the options you have are that you find something built exclusively for the hospitality sector, build one yourself, or use a tool that allows you to add plugins and add-ons that would help you perform certain tasks that the tool cannot help you with otherwise. All three of these are good options but generally, if you are not well versed with technology, it is advisable to stay away from building one yourself unless you have really specific needs that no tool addresses.
Cloud is in demand
Cloud-based solutions are the easiest and the most sensible choice for the day we live in today. Having a physical on-premise server environment to set up your accounting software is not a realistic option today. You are looking at ways in which you can not just reduce the dependence on your infrastructure, but also at important things like having collaboration capabilities and real-time availability of files.
Cloud-based Saas Platforms offer you all these benefits. Most of these cloud tools also have very flexible pricing options that allow you to get just the number of licenses you need and also tailor the product to fit your needs.
Add-ons and compatibility
We are all now understanding how important it is that your systems talk to each other, and integrate well so that you have a smooth flow of information across the various functions. You may be already using legacy systems (or at least using spreadsheets) for both accounting and for other functions. You must choose a system that is compatible with these other systems already in place. The system you choose should offer a plug-and-play experience in working with their files and data.
If you are an SME, the cost of the software is likely to figure somewhere close to the top, if you are listing your priorities. You need tools that make your accounting process more efficient but at the same time, you don’t want to pay through your nose to get that too.
If we scour the internet, we are likely to find a lot of tools that fit your criteria. These tools are also available at many different price points too. What you should be looking for are features and modules that you would need in your software, and seeing which tools offer those features.
Just looking at cost will most likely land you in trouble. It is an important part to consider but trying to save a few dollars in monthly fees while compromising on the quality of the product is going to cost you more in the long run.
What is your accountant comfortable with?
This is an important part of the decision-making process. You have to include your accountant in the process of choosing the tool and her/his inputs are critical in making a choice. One of the biggest issues that technology platforms face today is the adoption of these tools post-implementation. If your accountant is comfortable with the tool you have chosen, the rest of the job becomes easy. Choosing a tool that’s close to the existing processes can help in minimizing the transition time and possible accounting errors that could arise.
Choosing any software for use is never an easy decision. There are many tools out there, and most of them offer the standard set of features with slightly different interpretations of how it is implemented. But a lot of these tools differ greatly when it comes to performance and experience. The basic idea behind having a software tool is to make the job easier. Having a clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve, and what are constraints you have will help you make the right choice. Remember that choosing the right tool is still just half the battle. Leveraging the tool to improve the way you account is the key to realizing value from the software you invest in!
The article has been written by Anand Jajodia, Co-founder of Align Info solution