10 Questions To Ask When You Are Evaluating An Accounting System
Posted on Apr 16, 2014
As a company grows, it is essential that the accounting and reporting capabilities grow with it. However, selecting the correct accounting solution can be a daunting process. With more than 600 products to choose from in the UK alone, how do you know that you are choosing the right one?
The key questions to ask when you are evaluating an accounting system:
1. What are the costs and timeframes associated with implementation?
Getting started should be easy as the reference data is normally managed by maintenance functions. Where additional system's configuration is required, there should be no need for programming or complex coding skills. All system administration is done using a consistent web browser interface. This gives you the opportunity to customise and tailor the solution to meet the growing needs of your business.
2. How easy is it to use and how much training does it require?
Cloud based applications are designed for ease-of-use, allowing staff to use the system with the minimum amount of training. Systems should be pre-configured to recognise common groups of time (such as ‘this period’, ‘this week’, ‘this month’, and ‘this quarter’). Making notes and adding details to documents should also be very straightforward.
3. Does it use standard business forms to reduce confusion with debits and credits?
Rather than just entering journal information about a sales invoice, systems need to be configurable to capture information from the original source document, pass it through an approval process and print a hard copy (if required) before releasing it to the ledger. At all stages the behaviour and impact of debits and credits should be automatically governed by the system, reducing errors and processing times.
4. Does it include advanced accounting functionality?
Advanced functions include full budget processing. This enables the finance team to easily track income and expenditure across an almost unlimited range of analysis, as well as international support, for example, multi-lingual and multi-currency capabilities.
5. Does it offer fast, intuitive drill-down and drill-through?
It should be straightforward to enquire on any data at any time. Summary views should be run directly within a browser. Intelligent drill-down capabilities should also enable information to be sorted on-the-fly in ascending, descending and entry sequences.
6. Does it feature in-built Business Intelligence?
Business Intelligence tools (such as the Smart-KPIs from Aqilla) are essential for businesses to track both financial and non-financial metrics. This allows the management team to define and measure progress against operational and strategic goals. Crucially they also provide an immediate assessment as regards the present state of an organisation and in doing so help prescribe likely courses of action to address areas requiring attention.
7. Are there Workflow capabilities included?
To reduce the cost and the complexity, choose a solution that features built-in functionality. It will allow you to manage the processing of each document, track the approval process and for different users to view or change information before it is finally committed to the ledger.
8. Does it integrate with Microsoft Excel?
No accounting supplier can ignore the most commonly used analysis tool – Microsoft Excel. Choose a solution that closely integrates with Excel and facilitates very simple analysis of live data. This means that employees will be able to define reports in Excel.
9. Does it integrate with business calendars to help drive efficiencies?
Linking date and time related activities to calendars, and displaying them on the user’s homepage helps to manage activities and ensure actions are completed. As the added dates approach, a series of coloured messages get displayed on the home page to warn of the event. If required, the email warnings can be sent to nominated recipients.
10. Are security and back-up taken care of automatically?
Web-based applications are inherently more secure than their traditional ‘on-premise’ counterparts. Data is less exposed to risks, such as theft, fire and flood damage. Opening a new branch of your business, working from a hotel or from home or checking a piece of information whilst visiting a client, should not require the additional installation of complex terminal services.
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