Choosing finance and accounting software can be a daunting task. There are so many packages and platforms available. Should you go for on-site software or cloud-based software? Should you choose a complete package that includes a productivity suite and business intelligence or a simple off-the-shelf accounting package?
We recommend asking the following five key questions before choosing your next finance and accounting software. These questions cover a full range of needs found in most companies seeking new software. Ready? Let’s take a look.
5 Questions to Ask Before Buying New Finance and Accounting Software
You want to know what you’re getting before you buy new finance and accounting software. With these questions, you’ll get a good idea of what you’re buying even before you sit down for a demonstration.
- What do I get “out of the box?” Sometimes, software vendors demonstrate super-systems that have all the bells and whistles in place already. And, while it’s nice to know all the customizations and add-ons you can choose from, it’s also important to know what you get from day one. Ask the reseller to list (or provide you with a list) of the features available in the basic system. Then, look over the customizable options.
- Will I need a specialist to customize the system? Another important question to ask is whether a specialist is needed to customize the system. If a specialist is needed, how many people know how to do the work? While you may love your reseller or software consultant now, people retire, change jobs, or move on to new positions within the company. It’s important to choose finance and accounting software that’s used by many companies—such software usually has a large group of programmers able to customize the solution you need.
- Can my staff get the information they need? Financial data isn’t just the purview of the accounting team. In many companies, it’s shared widely to enable managers to make better decisions. Finance and accounting software that is so complex you need a CPA just to use it isn’t right for most companies. Instead, look for software that provides easy to understand reports, an intuitive interface, and the ability to share important reports and data with others. Many systems now offer paperless options, meaning you can email reports and other data to users, or provide customized login details that allow managers direct access to certain areas of the system while maintaining security and confidentiality in other areas.
- Will this help my company remain compliant with reporting laws? Depending on your industry, you may face specific compliance rules. Tax reporting, international jurisdictions, and nonprofit audits all have specific compliance requirements that can be challenging for many common finance and accounting software packages to handle. A good system has tools built in for your industry or needs that can help you achieve full compliance with all legal and tax reporting agencies
- Is this system flexible? Nothing is worse than buying finance and accounting software and then realizing months later that you went too small, instead of too big, and you need a scalable system. Being too conservative estimating your software needs can be just as problematic as over-estimating your needs and buying a system that’s “too much” for daily operations. Look for accounting software that offers flexible licensing, such as the ability to easily add seats or remove them as needed, and systems that grow along with you.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention security, too. If you’re looking at cloud-based finance and accounting systems, most offer excellent security including redundant data storage, cloud backups, and more. But be sure to ask about security. With more companies than ever before facing cyberattacks, it’s important to check on the platform’s commitment to security.
Lastly, ask the reseller about data ownership. Some systems have fine print in the contract making it difficult to move to another platform should you wish to do so someday. Be sure you know who owns and controls your data before selecting a finance system.
There are many excellent finance and accounting platforms available today. By taking your time, asking the right questions, and viewing many options, you’ll find one that suits your needs.
Emerald TC provides software and consulting for manufacturing companies. We can help you choose the right accounting software, ERP system, payroll, or other software for your needs. Contact us or call 678-456-6919 for more information.