With businesses increasingly reliant on technology, choosing the right financial software is an important task for accounting practices who may be overwhelmed by choice and lacking the technological know-how to make a full assessment of their requirements. For smaller firms without an IT contingent, knowing what to look for in their software investments requires upfront knowledge of what they expect from it and how it will help them reach the level of productivity and efficiency they strive for.
Ten Items That Every Financial Software Checklist Must Contain
Cost: Your investment should provide you with the functionality required to run an efficient practice. When committing to the purchase, you need to understand what your money gets you. Be sure to evaluate your requirements against the platform’s ability to deliver the right tools. This will largely determine whether the product’s price tag is justified. Keep in mind that the least expensive product isn’t always the better choice; when you find the system to be lacking in support, flexibility and performance, your total cost of ownership suddenly multiplies exponentially.
Scalability: As your business expands, you need to know that your software will grow organically alongside it. Expansion could also mean servicing different industry-types and might require specific modules and add-ons from your vendor, so ensure you understand the full scope of its capabilities to adjust to the ebbs and flows of your practice.
Compliance: No practice can afford to compromise on regulatory and compliance factors. Engage suppliers on this topic and assess the depth of their understanding as to what your compliance requirements are.
Intuitive and ease-of-use: Few things waste more time than overly-complex applications. Not every staff member possesses the same level of tech-savviness to navigate their way through bloated, complex systems. This will translate into missed deadlines, bottlenecks in work processes and frustration for both your clients and your practice.
Agility: Next-gen solutions are built on cloud and hosted technology platforms. With this comes 24/7 access to resources and powerful collaboration tools. Stand-alone systems require significant hardware and human resource investments that might undermine long-term ROI.
Systems compatibility: As is often the case, businesses will have various iterations of hard and software platforms within their four walls, making application compatibility somewhat difficult to manage. Audit your environment to assess its compatibility with the candidate applications you are considering as a means to ensure maximisation of your investment and to prevent incompatibility or under-performance issues down the road.
Support: It is often said that a software product is only as good as the support it comes with. Your vendor’s support system should possess the experience and specialist product and industry knowledge to help you get the most out of your investment. This goes beyond issue-resolution and should include helping you realise the full potential of the software.
Integration: Disparate systems are the bane of any business. When information is scattered and data formats are inconsistent, processes are bogged down and silos start developing. Centralised data sources drawn from by a single software application translates into elevated efficiency, faster turnarounds and most importantly, happy clients.
Automation: If there’s one benefit no company can do without today, it’s the automation of redundant and repetitive processes. Thankfully, software suites today are geared towards simplifying daily administrative and operational processes that very often are the causes of backlogs. Bring this up in your discussions with vendors and assess how well positioned their offerings are to bring elevated levels of efficiency to the table.
Data Integrity: Information-safety in the era of the Internet of Things (IOT) is a very topical subject in the backdrop of data in the cloud. Make no compromises on data integrity and engage your peers on the software suites they implement to get some sense of what levels of data integrity you can expect.
By Jannie Marias,
Product Divisional Manager, Caseware Africa.