Accounting Software Buyers Guide
Part 3: Choosing a solution
Accounting features alone won’t guarantee a strong accounting platform. Remember, looking at just the features you need only solves your problems temporarily. For an effective solution, look past feature sets and identify what differentiates the individual product from others. Understanding the central focuses of the accounting software will tell you how the technology is equipped to grow with your company and continually meet your needs. The first, most important differentiator you should look for is flexibility.
Software flexibility is a decisive factor in whether your software can fully support your business or will hold you back. Every business is unique, so an untailored, one-size-fits-all, type of accounting software is highly antiquated. True value from your accounting system lies with how it conforms and continually adapts to your individual needs and processes. This flexibility also contributes to how the solution will scale to your organization. The last thing you want is to invest in technology that you’ll have to replace because you’ve outgrown it.
As your company’s bookkeeping and business model expand, system flexibility should grow with your changes, not the other way around. Consider how optimized the accounting system is for configuration and customization. Make sure the accounting platform can continually meet new requirements.
The way accounting software works with your other essential apps defines the accuracy and ease of your accounting processes. Nobody wants to spend hours and money manually entering accounting details and then re-checking them. Connecting your accounting tool to relevant business tools is the solution. Therefore, IT integration (the way in which systems can connect to and share data with outside systems) is an important consideration.
Even after implementation, poorly developed multi-platform integrations connecting unrelated systems can still face continuous connectivity issues. Data issues and disruptions must be monitored and maintained following implementation. This drives up costs.
There are two ways to avoid this dilemma. The first is to avoid multi-platform integration between separate apps altogether. This is done by linking all your business tools, including accounting, together on one platform. This frees you from having to rely on outside applications that must be integrated with your other business apps. One of the main benefits of choosing accounting software built on a shared-platform like Salesforce is that multi-platform integrations are unnecessary. All of these apps powered by the platform are already natively connected. This is what we call single-platform integration.
The second-best option is to choose an accounting system with a strong, robust API. Open API, in particular, provides strong connections for both single-platform and multi-platform solutions. This is the base API that Salesforce uses for its native applications’ architecture. Open API is the best way to ensure data can be shared accurately, quickly, and securely.
Everyone wants their accounting to be fast, easy, and accurate; the key to this is accounting automation. The availability and flexibility of your solution’s automation functions are not only convenient, but important for helping you manage increasing transaction amounts. Look for these three core automations in your prospective solution.
- Event Automation – Transactional accounting is now more streamlined and easier because accounting platforms can fully automate repetitive entries for you through event automation. For example, Accounting Seed utilizes click-not-code automation which enables you to do multiple functions with just a button click. The simpler the automation is to implement, the more it reduces your manual labor while enhancing your entire system’s accuracy.
- Batch Automation – Batch automation, or batch processing, is automation in which the system completes batches of jobs at once instead of forcing you to do each job individually and manually. Batch automation lets things like revenue recognition and billing be done altogether to save you time and meet deadlines. You can also run multiple batch operations sequentially according to your defined processes.
- Scheduled Job Automation – Scheduled job automation ensures that your accounting never falls behind for you or your customers. Processing jobs manually always carries risks of delays or errors. Recurring jobs create consistency and help you to meet deadlines. Software like Accounting Seed allows you to automate daily, weekly, and monthly processes as you need. Once set, these can be easily adjusted to reflect new changes to billing or revenue cycles.
Every accounting system offers financial reporting as a common feature, but few let you fully control the way you can gather, analyze, and present data. Being able to control and isolate select data gives you fast, accurate answers to your most relevant questions. Look for a system that offers custom reporting in addition to the standard financial statements/reports.
Strong reporting also revolves around system tools that let you analyze and track specific data throughout the accounting life cycle. You’ll want drill-down functionalities and an audit trail feature to help you track finances. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to find precise details quickly and risk major data errors slipping past you.
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Remember, stronger reporting gives you better data to steer your company towards the greatest return on investment.
Collaboration and Visibility
Being able to collaborate and visualize your accounting data is essential in today’s fast-paced work environment. Features designed around visibility and collaboration provide a more proactive and effective way to track and compile critical accounting data. In addition to strong reporting capabilities, here are some additional features you should look for:
- User-Friendly Dashboards – Financial Dashboards provide a visual display of key metrics and trends of a company’s accounting. At a glance, you and your team can see your finances in real-time, an immense time-saver. This is highly valuable for tracking key details to gauge financial health or milestone statuses. Naturally, you’ll want dashboards that are easy-to-use and responsive. Look for dashboard settings that let you customize the data and view as you need.
- Scheduled Reports – Your financial reporting features should also have the option to create scheduled reports for key stakeholders. The variables and finances dictating your business are always changing. Scheduled reports ensure your team is up-to-date on the current numbers to make strong decisions.
Seamless communication and coordination within the accounting platform are also vital. Key team members must be able to access, share, discuss, and validate accounting data together. Relevant platform tools to consider include:
- Workflow Rules – Workflow rules let you create and automate internal processes and procedural steps for key accounting processes. The way they typically work is like this: when x happens, y is the result, then onto the next event in your workflow sequence. This helps avoid mistakes and structures proper workflow.
- Approvals – The approvals feature automates specific steps or sequences of events that require an official sign-off on a record to ensure accuracy. All leaders and key personnel will be able to review and work on relevant processes without losing track of them. This also establishes accountability and a system of checks and balances.