Vetting new technology is challenging:
- Do you find the “best” solution on the market and make it work for you?
- Do you find out what’s best for your organization and then invest countless hours scouring vendors, exploring features, watching demos, getting quotes, and then short-listing them?
- How many solutions should you take for a test drive before making a decision?
- How do you find the most budget-appropriate solution that meets your most critical needs?
- When do you need a business impact analysis?
- Does this software facilitate the need to do a risk assessment?
The list can go on and on.
That’s why, unfortunately, many organizations will forego this process altogether just to not have to worry about the hassle and frustrations, and keep using their old systems and software, regardless of how inefficient or esoteric they may be.
If you’re a small business and you’ve been using the same accounting software for a long time or you have a hodge-podge of manual, people-based accounting processes, the list above represents some of the many reasons why you might be hesitant to begin the journey for a replacement or upgrade. But, when it comes to keeping all the numbers crunched for operational resiliency, it might be time to turn off the adding machines, roll up the ticker tape, and close down those spreadsheets.
BMS for Accounting
Before you begin your journey to choose a solution, let’s take a quick look at some of the many reasons why a business management solution (BMS) may be right for your accounting needs:
- An integrated BMS accounting solution can give you insight like you’ve never had before — comprehensive visibility from sales lead to satisfied customer.
- You can decrease the chance of human error by eliminating duplicate, repetitive data entry. With an integrated BMS, you can enter customer information in your customer relationship management (CRM) solution and share that data across all of your connected operational systems like invoicing and billing, with everything feeding into your accounting solution in real time.
- You’ll always have an accurate picture of your organization’s financials, right in an easy-to-understand dashboard, without having to track down someone to have them update a spreadsheet or print out a ledger.
- You can share key information across teams. For example, how many sales are in the pipeline, who has been billed, who has paid, and whose accounts need follow-up.
- You can quickly pull reports and other data as needed for compliance and audits.
- Have multiple offices or locations? You can manage all of your accounting needs for all of them right in one solution and with a cloud-hosted option, you can ensure team members have access to the workflows they need, no matter where they are.
- You can quickly calculate related taxes and costs and always be aware of what you need to collect and what you’re required to remit.
- You can align your current expenditures with your budget so you always know how well you’re doing and when and if you need to make adjustments.
- Have recurring processes or transactions? A BMS accounting solution will enable you to automate recurring transactions, like routine scheduled payments, so you always know they're taken care of accurately and on time.
Sounds great, right? Much easier than using a spreadsheet or other software. Now that you know why a BMS accounting solution is a good idea, how do you know which one is best for you?
Here are a few suggestions:
- First, do a business impact analysis (BIA) to determine exactly what you need your accounting software to do, not just right now, but as it aligns to plans to scale and grow.
- You may find it helpful, depending on the size of your organization and scale of your accounting department and needs, to find an executive sponsor — someone who can champion this project on an executive level to facilitate the resources you’ll need to select and implement, and also ensure buy-in and adoption across your organization.
- Determine if you need an on-premises solution, a cloud-hosted solution, or a hybrid solution that includes components of both. If you want an on-prem solution, you’ll need to understand all of the hardware and software requirements for set up and installation, so on the next step, when you’re budgeting, remember you’ll need to include those in your costs, too.
- Once you understand what you need your accounting software to do, set your budget. Don’t forget: with many software solutions, additional costs can quickly add up. Even software as a service where there are no hardware or software installations needed may have additional fees for set up, users, data storage and retention, licensing, and more. Look for vendors with clearly defined features and easy-to-understand pricing models. Seek vendors that offer services that can scale and change with your organization, without piling on astronomical costs as you grow with them. Some solutions come with a range of features, but not all of them are always clearly defined from a cost perspective. Ensure that if a vendor is upselling features, you understand all costs related to them.
- Next, seek out vendors whose platforms meet all of your needs. Don’t fall into a trap of being lured in by flashy marketing messages with bells and whistles you don’t need. Refer back to that BIA and your list of needs and requirements.
Here are some key features you may want to include:
- Ability to forecast, track, manage, and update budgets, not just for your organization as a whole, but down to a granular level like department or project-based
- User-friendly, including training and support for your users
- Billing and invoicing options with enterprise resource planning (ERP) integration for streamlined efficiencies like inventory management, reorders, and payments
- Streamlined integration with your point of sale systems
- Customizable reports with a range of options from the big picture, down to a granular level
- Ability to quickly pull required data and documents for audits and assessments
- Both cloud-hosted options as well as mobile access
- Ability to add and remove users and limit user access as needed
- Support for compliance and regulatory mandates
- Ability to automate manual tasks
- Integrations that help you manage sales taxes permits, collection, and remittance
- Simple integration and API access that links your accounting system to other systems and applications
- Security and privacy functionality to protect sensitive data
- Frequent and reliable data back-ups and simplified recovery processes
Once you have a better idea of what you need and how much you're able to spend:
- Short-list vendors that are within your budget and that meet your requirements
- Ask to see product demos
- Ask to speak to existing customers
- Look for solutions that offer reliable customer service (beyond standard business hours) through a variety of communication methods like email, chat, phone calls, and more
- Work with vendors who will let you “try-before-you-buy” so you can get a feel for the software and its core features before you commit
- Consider working with a partner or advisor who understands the complexities of a BMS accounting solution and have them help your team with your BIA, risk assessments, needs lists, and more
Need help starting your accounting software journey, or are you ready to replace software that no longer meets all of your needs? Register for an upcoming webinar today to see our solution in action for yourself.