Changing Accounting Software: Ingredients For SuccessDouglas Luchansky
September 25, 2008 — 1,525 views
If you are ready to switch accounting software for your business, you know there are hundreds of publishers ready to take your money, as well as thousands of system implementers. There are hosted solutions, web-based solutions, pc-based solutions, MAC solutions - the choices are overwhelming. Here are some things to consider as you begin this process.
Allow enough time: The sales cycle for a new ERP/Accounting system can last anywhere from three to six months (for more complicated solutions, nine months or more), so it is a given that buying a new system takes time, thought and consideration. Software is divided into three categories: (a) "off the shelf" (QuickBooks, Peachtree); (b) configurable (MAS 90, Navision); and (c) customizable (MAS 500, Dynamics -GP). Understand the benefits of the RFI: Large businesses making the move to new accounting software usually start with a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI states what the company requires in the new system and allows potential vendors to submit answers if their system meets the minimum requirements. The RFI will request what is included in the standard product and what, if anything, is a custom or third-party solution.
Define your business: Do you distribute product, manufacture product, or both? If you are a manufacturer, are you a process manufacturer, do you build to order, do you do discrete manufacturing, or do you do a combination? Do you bill based on time and materials? The answer to these and many other questions will help determine the best software solution for you.
Find the right partner: Having defined your business, you can now use Google to search key terms. These key terms will point you to a wide array of solutions, including companies that specialize in helping people find partners for the solutions that they want (www.findaccountingsoftware.com, for example). A partner can help you determine a budget, the number of concurrent users, and the modules that you will need. A quality partner should be a solution consultant, as opposed to a traditional sales representative for whom the sale is more important than the "why" or "what". The solution consultant will do an in-depth interview and an on-site analysis to see if their solution might fit your company. The right partner will be there after the sale. They will be there after you go live for support. Their team members understand your business.
Find the right publisher: The publisher is equally important. Are they financially stable? Are new software versions released on a regular basis? Do they have an adequate number of product installations?
Learn from those who have gone before: First-time buyers typically let price be the deciding factor. It is commonly accepted that companies spend between one and three percent of their annual revenue on a new ERP system, although I personally believe the number is lower. Second-time buyers surveyed revealed that price was no longer the determining factor, but instead the partner had been raised to number one. Stay involved: Even with an excellent partner, you have to stay involved. If you expect to let the partner do all of the work, you may end up with a solution that is not the right fit. Do not let the price be the deciding factor - find a great partner (interview at least two to three), find a great publisher (see two to three demos) and ask a lot of questions - it will save you time and money in the long run.
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