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Encore Business Solutions

6 Important Guidelines on Selecting the Best Accounting Software and Reseller

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Evaluating and selecting the right accounting/ERP software to help manage your organization’s operations, processes and people, may seem rather overwhelming at first.  Some common questions or concerns that may come to mind immediately include:

  • Is the investment worth the money spent?
  • Are the benefits greater than the costs?
  • What type of maintenance, training, support, enhancements and/or upgrades is involved?
  • Can we customize the system to fit our business needs today and beyond?
  • How many licenses do we receive?

It’s important for organizations (at all stages of growth and maturity) to think beyond their current business needs and to take a closer look at the ‘long term’ business plan.  By doing so, you will not only save time and money but you will also realize a substantial return on every dollar invested in technology.

To help you make a confident decision, refer to the guidelines below for selecting the right financial and accounting software solution and reseller:

1)      Make a list of possible accounting software solutions and value added resellers (VAR’s) including both general and industry focused.  Explore all of your product choice options.  Refrain from focusing solely on generic, mainstream products or what other companies are using to operate their business. Every organization has different business processes and will require specific technology that will meet their unique needs and requirements.  To compensate for the limited software functionality in generic products, additional money will be required to spend on customizations.  You don’t want to get trapped in the “change order” methodology that some vendors use to increase costs every time a new requirement or change is made to the software setup.  The Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) vendor you select should be clear about all costs associated with your technology requirements from the beginning to avoid any unplanned expenses.

2)      Consider the following list of criteria when evaluating different software solutions:

  1. Budget –What is your budget?  Does the software pricing include licensing, additional modules, implementation, enhancement/maintenance, support and hardware (if required)?  What is your budget for each of these requirements?
  2. Unique business processes – Does your system require additional modules or customization to streamline and manage your business processes?
  3. Integration – Is the software solution fully integrated?  Will this software allow you to connect all of your business systems together in such a way that they literally ‘speak to one another’?
  4. Software development – How current is the software?  Is it evolving with technology or is it stagnant?
  5. Scalability – How scalable is the software?  Can it be installed across many sites, integrated and adapted to your changing business needs?
  6. Reporting capabilities – Does the software allow for easy access to reports? Can the user generate reports in multiple formats?  Does the software include alerts and different email options?  How accurate and current is the data managed in the system?

3)      Consider the following list of criteria when evaluating different VAR’s:

  1. Specialization – Does the VAR have industry specific knowledge, experience and expertise?
  2. Implementation experience and customer references– Does the VAR have the technical experience, resources and project processes in place to handle the implementation?  Do they have partnerships with others in the industry to leverage expertise and/or additional resources if necessary? Do they have customer success stories/case studies that they can share with you?
  3. Training – What type of training does the VAR offer?  Do they use “train the trainer” method where one person from your company gets trained and then is responsible for training other employees?  What added resources are available to supplement training?
  4. Years in business – How many years has the VAR been in business and what type of reputation have they earned?
  5. Vision – What are the VAR’s business goals and strategic direction?  Do they support your company’s vision and are they a good fit?

4)      Understand and communicate exactly what you expect to see and learn from a product demonstration.  For example do you want to receive a high level or more detailed overview of the products capabilities?  Or do you want to focus on specific functionality of interest such as reporting or inventory control?  Each vendor should receive the same list of demo requests as this will make it easier for you to properly compare and select the appropriate one.  The demo should be long enough to get basic business processes covered, but not too detailed that it’s impossible to demo in a proper time allotted.  Prepare a list of questions that you’d like to have answered during the demo and if possible send these off to the vendor in advance so they have the opportunity to prepare.  Let each vendor have a chance to show off their advantages and differentiators as this will help you to decide whether they support your company’s vision and are a good fit.

5)      Consider the following factors when it comes time to negotiate with your vendor of choice:

  1. Software license costs - How many users or software licenses are included in the initial investment?  Are the license prices based on concurrent or named users? What is the cost for additional users?  What is the cost for additional modules and users?
  2. Implementation costs – What are the implementation costs?  Generally, implementation costs can be roughly estimated as a ratio of the cost of software (anywhere from .75 to 1 to 1 to 1).  That is, whatever you spend on software, expect to spend the same amount on implementation. Data conversion, some integration and customization will add to this cost.
  3. Enhancement/ maintenance costs – Is there an annual fee charged by the software company/vendor to maintain, support, and upgrade the software package? How is the fee calculated and is it optional?
  4. Hardware costs – Are hardware costs applicable or necessary for your organization?  Generally, these costs are uniform from vendor to vendor.  The difference can occur where more sophisticated systems are implemented.

6)      Think about whether you want to work with a vendor or trusted business partner.

Generally, a vendor will sell the software, set it up and leave having little or no interest in your future. A business partner on the other hand wants to ensure you have a competitive advantage over other companies through efficient tools and processes unique to your business. A partner will also provide ongoing support, training, future upgrades and will continue to work with you to address future changes in business management solutions.

Like all business agreements, both parties involved have to feel comfortable with the final contract and the terms they are agreeing to.  By following these simple, yet critical guidelines and taking the time to research and communicate with potential vendors you will be able to find the right financial/accounting software and VAR for your organization and eliminate any future surprises or disappointments.

If you want to learn more about implementing an integrated software solution that is familiar to your people and easy-to-use like Microsoft Dynamics GP (formerly called Great Plains) or Microsoft Dynamics NAV then contact, Encore Business Solutions.

By Encore Business Solutions, Microsoft Dynamics GP partner, serving Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.

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