As an accountant, CFO, or other financial professional on the front lines of managing the finances of your organization, you know that there is a constant balancing act of complexity and regulation while stakeholders demand increased speed and deeper views into the drivers behind each change. Addressing this, both with regularity and expediency, is a challenge that you face every single day.
Needless to say, if you’re struggling with this, it’s even worse if you’re trying to get it done with slow, outdated, or incompatible software.
The Challenges Faced at Growing Organizations
So what are you to do? Forge ahead, fighting the inefficient and inaccurate processes you already use, putting additional stress on your department while employees toil away on financial management software that isn’t built to meet your organization’s needs? Or decide that today is the day you take a step in the right direction, researching and selecting an accounting platform that’s suited for you in 2016, 2017, and beyond?
In a recent whitepaper from Intacct, The Buyer’s Guide to Accounting and Financial Software in 2016, cloud accounting and software provider Intacct highlights the financial professional’s journey to selecting new software that will save time and money this year, next year, and beyond:
Recognizing the Need
Naturally, the first step in addressing a problem is admitting one exists in the first place. Are you spending more time at the office to get the same amount of work done? Are you feeling that you could be getting information? Getting that information faster? It’s not your fault. It’s the software.
Did you know that the last major adoption wave for financial management and accounting software dates back to the late 1980s, following the shift to Microsoft Windows? How about the fact that few, if any are ready to work in today’s always-on business world?
The fallout from using one of these older systems includes spiraling overhead costs, functional limitations, and unnecessary risks. What’s more, there’s a cost to not being able to gain real-time visibility into your organization’s financial and operational KPIs. It’s the cost of having your competitors make faster, better decisions than you.
Choosing a Software Delivery Model
Realistically the first step in the actual decision-making process, the idea of selecting a delivery model is one that will have a profound impact on how you proceed, and how you predict costs.
- On-Premises: The traditional model with licensed software, hardware housed at your building.
- Things to Remember: Capital and operating expenses associated with deployment, operations, support, customization, integration, maintenance, and upgrades.
- Implementation Time: 3-6 Months
- Upgrade Timeline: 12+ Months
- Hosted Software: In a hosted environment, the software physically resides at a remote data center operated by an expert third-party hosting provider. Your team would usually use a product like Citrix to access the software over the Internet and see the screens being generated at the hosting provider.
- Costs to Consider: Nearly the same as on-premises costs, this model includes costs for customizations, upgrades, integration, and support and service.
- Implementation Time: 3-6 Months
- Upgrade Timeline: Same as On-Premises
- Multi-Tenant Cloud: Multi-Tenant means simply that the vendor assumes all of the hosting costs, providing you a what you see is what you get price in terms of cost. Accessible anytime, anywhere, multi-tenant cloud is typically paid for on a per-user/per-month subscription basis as opposed to a one-and-done licensing cost.
- Costs to Consider: Initial Costs, followed by predictable and consistent monthly pricing.
- Implementation Time: Six to 12 Weeks.
- Upgrade Timeline: Quarterly, with predictable upgrades that will not cause you to lose data or integration.
For a full list of things to consider, download the Buyer’s Guide to Accounting Software.
Whether Cloud, Hosted, or On-Premises, It’s Still about Best Practices
No matter the delivery model you choose, there are questions you’ll need to ask possible VARs/Vendors, as well as questions you’ll need to ask of your organization. Even with cloud-computing implementations, the basic process of vetting vendors remains unchanged.
- Gather Requirements: Carefully define and document your needs. Get input and gain consensus from key users in finance and related departments across the organization. Talk integrations, requisition processes, and more with all possible stakeholders.
- List Priorities and Challenges: By now, you’ll realize there is no consensus, and that everyone will have specific needs. List these in a must-have, should have, and nice to have.
- Develop an RFP: You have the needs, you have the possible vendors, see how all of them stack up.
- Take into Consideration Reviews: Sites like Proformative, Trust Radius, and Salesforce AppExchange are good places to see how applications stack up to the needs of customers. See here why reviews are so important, and to see G2Crowd’s reviews.
- Try a Demo: There’s no substitute for careful evaluation of the user experience. But also be sure to see how things work at the administrative level as well.
- Focus on Product Fit: Regardless of deployment model, there’s still no substitute for functional excellence. You need a financial system that offers the comprehensive, up-to-date features that modern organizations require.
- Match it All Up: Ask for references, see case studies, and make your decision.
Making Your Decision
Before you buy, be sure to look for things like implementation success for companies of your size and industry, the total cost of ownership for the software, and the ROI.
For more information, including the seven crucial steps to vetting a vendor, as well as the must-have pieces and red flags of a service-level agreement (SLA), please download the entire Buyer’s Guide to Accounting Software from Intacct.
Need More Advice? Join us for Solving Accounting Challenges with Intacct 1/27
From small nonprofit to global public company and everything in between, you face unique challenges. This is why we would like to invite you to a webcast scheduled for Wednesday, January 27, 2016 for “How to Solve Your Accounting Challenges with Intacct,” in which experts will discuss the challenges you face as an accountant or CFO in 2016, as well as how the leading cloud accounting software can help overcome these challenges.
Join Brittenford Systems and Intacct Cloud Accounting and Financial Management experts on January 27, 2016 from 1:00 PM EST to learn more. Register here.