Many small businesses begin with commercial accounting software, such as QuickBooks or Peachtree and find that, as their business grows, they may spend a considerable amount of time exporting data to create various management reports that can’t be generated within the current accounting system. In addition, they may see their chart of accounts rapidly growing as they try to establish various cost centers or segments. These are some indicators that you may be outgrowing your current accounting software.
Beginning the process of evaluating and selecting a new accounting software and then implementing it can be a daunting task. Listed below are a few steps to consider as you begin your search for the right accounting system.
- Determine your needs. Start by evaluating where your current accounting system is lacking and what the new system must have.
- Develop a budget on how much you want to invest in the software and system upgrades that may be needed to support it. Many software vendors have an option for cloud computing, which may require less internal IT costs but will have a monthly service fee.
- Perform an internet search to determine accounting software tailored for the industry you operate in to get familiar with some of the software options available. Most software companies have demos you can view which will give you an overview of its capabilities and functionality.
- Inquire within your professional network to determine what software other companies in the industry are using and the pros and cons they experience with the product. You will get honest feedback from other professionals who have hands on experience with the software.
- Once you have narrowed your search to a few products, contact the software vendors to schedule a time to discuss your needs and a more in-depth demonstration of the accounting software. Make sure to discuss accounting modules necessary for your business, information technology system requirements and the number of user licenses required, as this will impact the pricing.
- Make a list of the pros and cons offered by each product, the cost and timing necessary to complete the conversion. Evaluate whether you have the professional expertise in-house to perform the conversion, including system installation and account mapping, and the amount of time needed to successfully complete the conversion.
The next step is to use all the information gathered above and decide which software is the best fit for your company and ultimately engage with a software vendor to begin the next phase of the process. Conversion and implementation….That’s a whole other topic!
Karen Lord, CPA