Selecting enterprise accounting software can be an arduous and daunting task – particularly if you don’t have much experience in that area.
That’s why it helps to start with some simple questions that can quickly filter out pretenders and help you find the right solution.
To get you started, here are six essential questions to pose to a potential vendor:
Will you do a customized demo?
A successful enterprise accounting software implementation is all about personalization. You want a solution that will match up closely with your organization’s needs.
What’s the best way to find out if a potential provider will be able to give you what you need?
Ask for a customized demo!
This shows you two things:
- The provider’s solution will actually fit with the problems you’re trying to solve: Getting a personalized, interactive walk-through with a real person – and the time to ask questions – is the fastest route to figuring this out. After all, when you’re investing in an enterprise accounting software solution, you don’t want to hope it works. You need to know it works.
- The company is willing to work with you as a client: Not all enterprise accounting software providers are interested in working with every client. Some consider certain clients too small or a poor fit with their business. If they’re not willing to put the time in to offer a personalized demo, they’re unlikely to emerge as a serious provider of enterprise accounting software for your organization. You’re looking for a vendor that will partner with you, not treat you as a number.
How much turnover do you have on your sales team?
Dealing with multiple sales reps at the same company is a frustrating experience.
Just when you’ve explained who your organization is, what it does and what it wants to get out of its software…you have to start over with a new person.
This is not just a waste of your time, it’s also a sign that the prospective provider may not be stable, or interested, enough to deliver the solutions you need.
Do you have references from customer’s similar to us?
A big decision like a new accounting solution can’t be made based on vendor promises and marketing collateral alone.
You need to know the solution has worked with other organizations in the past.
A reference from a similar organization that’s already implemented the software is a great way to cut through the noise.
What worked? What didn’t? Would you go with this provider again?
These are the sorts of crucial questions you can only get answered through talking to a reference.
How can your software be used for strategic business decisions?
Accounting isn’t just about putting numbers into buckets anymore.
Now, accounting has an integral role in key business decisions, both operational AND strategic.
If you’re planning on making the investment in enterprise accounting software, make sure you get a tool that will allow you to support both.
This is where the following questions can come in handy:
- How easily can I manipulate the data in this platform? A static reporting solution is no help. You need to be able to slice and dice your numbers so you can look at performance from whatever angle you need.
- Will this platform allow me to compare business areas? Many accounting solutions are limited in how they treat different departments that all operate under the same business. You’ll want a solution that allows you to combine and compare numbers across your organization.
- What analysis and forecasting tools does the software offer? The ability to use your current financials to identify trends and predict future outcomes is essential. Combining your accounting software with powerful, integrated BI (business intelligence) tools allows you to get everything you need from one source.
What support do you provide after the initial implementation?
Rarely will an organization be able to implement everything from an accounting software solution right away.
Even the most intuitive accounting solution requires time to get up-and-running.
Example: Migrating from your existing accounting software and accounting operations to something new will likely be a big enough task in the beginning. As you and your team get more comfortable with the new solution, though, you may want to enhance the analytics and reporting side or your work.
That’s why you’ll want extended support not just during – but also after – you go live with a new solution
How does your solution improve our existing practices?
This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself.
An enterprise accounting solution should make your company better – both inside and outside the finance department.
Will the new software improve collaboration? Will it reduce reliance on paper? Will workflows be more efficient and cost-effective? Will timeliness of information be improved? Can we shorten our monthly close? Can I shorten my budgeting and planning cycle?
And perhaps most important: What will your return on investment be?
This is the best way to decide if a potential software solution is the right one for you.