Most vendor promotions for business and accounting software aren’t anything to write home about. A free user here. Some free modules there. Ten percent back to use for implementation services.
The last month or two, though, a couple of the big dogs in the market, Sage and Microsoft, have released some really significant savings. Microsoft is currently running a 5 users for $3,000 promotion. Sage is offering users of products soon to be discontinued (Sage Pro [formerly SBT and Pro Series] and PFW [Platinum for Windows]) the opportunity to trade their legacy products in return for new licenses of ACCPAC. Even Intuit has been running some nice promotions.
I think this is an indication that these vendors see a pick up in the market, but that customers are still nervous about committing to large capital expenditures. They all seem directed at helping decision makers to do something before the end of the year.
If you think your company might need new business, ERP or accounting software in the next few months, now is a good time to test the market. Give me a ring and I’ll tell you what I know.
On November 18, 2011, I’ll be presenting at the IMA / TSCPA joint CPE event at the Fogelman Executive Center. This annual event raises funds for the IMA’s scholarship fund, which awards scholarships to accounting students at a number of local colleges and universities. If you are a CPA or CMA and need CPE before the end of the year, it’s a great way to fill your requirement.
I’ve worked with manufacturing and distribution businesses for more than 25 years. The biggest asset these businesses have is often inventory. Inventory enables them to run their businesses, but also ties up capital that could be invested in additional product, advertising, capital projects, or expansion. Managing inventory is tricky, since too little inventory means that customer service will suffer. The best answer reduces inventory to a minimum and at the same time maintains or increases customer service.
Doing this effectively means using data from your accounting or ERP software to determine (a) which items to hold in inventory, (b) how much to hold, (c) when to reorder, (d) how much to reorder, and (e) when to change the answers to these items. A three-part webcast will teach you how to do this. The first part was posted in an earlier entry. You can watch the second part here.
A few days ago, I did a webcast on How to Select Accounting Software or ERP Software to maximize your profit. It covers the traditional way of selecting software, the pitfalls, the things your vendor may not want you to know and a host of other things as well. The webcast is about an hour long, and you can view it here. More information on selecting accounting software is on the DGG website.
I ran across Chris Keller’s blog post today. It’s an interesting post on how small businesses should select accounting software. His number one criteria…drum roll, please…is cost. Well, how about that? You should buy accounting software based on cost.
The second item in the list is learning curve. I guess I buy the idea that you shouldn’t buy software that’s too hard to learn to use.
The third item is “input efficiency.” I’m assuming he means how fast you can key the data into the system in comparison to other systems.
I’m not sure how you react to Chris’ ideas, but my first thought was that he really hasn’t done much with software selection. The number one complaint I hear from businesses that want new accounting software is, “It doesn’t do what I need it to do.” Second in the list is, “I can’t get the data I need to grow my business.” I don’t know that I’ve ever had a client say, “I paid too much,” particularly if the software was working. I’ve rarely heard, “It’s too hard to use.” When I have heard that, it’s been on software ranging from QuickBooks (which requires very little training for most users) to SAP (which IS hard to use, but does things the businesses that buy it need for it to do). All in all, you can strike these two items from the list.
Here’s my list (in no particular order) of the things you should evaluate in accounting software:
Does it do what I need for it to do?
Is there a game plan for continuing to develop the product?
Are the last few releases of the product forward-looking? (In other words, are they adding the things that I’m going to need in a few years.)
Do others in my same general business (retail, wholesale, service, medical, etc.) use the product?
Will it streamline my business processes?
Will it save me money?
Will it give me information that I can turn into new sales?
Once you narrow down the products and have a short list, then is the time to start asking the cost, training, reporting, etc. questions that Chris is talking about. My $0.02
Several weeks ago, I did a series of three webcasts on Inventory Management. It covers the data you need from your ERP software or accounting software and how to make the decisions related to inventory management. I put the first on YouTube, but had to cut it into three parts to get it all uploaded. The second and third sessions were more extensive and would have taken at least four parts. So we’ve set up a Vimeo Pro account for the videos that we do. Take a look at the first part of the Inventory Management webcast.
Several articles (see the link below) discuss whether spelling and grammar on sites affect the Google ranking. The general conclusion is “Yes.” I have to admit that I’ve gotten emails lately from business associates that left me wondering if they were really the folk I wanted to do business with. I tend to judge the quality of a piece of work (mine or others) by looking at the quality of the spelling. Is that wrong? Perhaps, but it seems Google has the same idea.
Ok, so I missed this article for several months, but as the local paper used to say, “If you haven’t read it, It’s still news.”
I’ve been involved in enterprise software projects for just a little shy of 30 years now. Most of my experience has been in small and mid-sized business, where this type of software is sometimes referred to simply as “accounting software.” This article points out that most mid-level managers are either unconcerned about software or feel that they are not listened to.
As a consultant, I can tell you that detailed information is the key to selecting and properly implementing software. Without the mid-manager’s perspective, it is easy to miss important details that later affect the implementation.
We’ve been fortunate to get middle managers involved in our implementations. Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking the detailed questions that middle managers know the answers to. Our process assures that when we are involved in an accounting software implementation, we get as much information as possible.
Sage ERP Accpac 6.0 has been out going on a year now. Version 6.1 is due soon. This overview from YouTube is still worth watching for the direction of the product. As we noted in our review of the product, the new development environment is based on Google Web Toolkit (GWT). The next version is supposed to have more of the environment converted to the new UI. When the UI is fully converted to the new development environment, we’ll review it again. Accounting software selection and industry specific software are our special areas of expertise.
Accounting information is backward looking. I know you’ve read this before.
Even when an organization produces financial statements just a few days after month end, the data that makes up the statement is related to something that happened last week, last month, or last quarter. Financial statements say nothing about what is happening now (present looking) or what will happen in the future (forward looking).
What Information Do You Need From Your Accounting Software?
It doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to figure out (through a process of interviewing) what information a manager really needs to do her job. The technique was developed over 20 years ago at Harvard, and it always surprises the people who go through the process: information that is critical to the operation of their company isn’t available.
Your accounting system can tell you what went well and what went wrong. This is important information. But you need to supplement this information with additional information that looks to the present and the future.
Today’s accounting software does more than produce financial statements. It collects the information needed to look to past, present, and future. For more information, take a look at Profit Tools.