Six teenage boys “jacked up” on Mountain Dew crawled into the white Chevy Suburban I drove in high school. Growing up in Oregon we were river rats, more likely to be on the river than in math class. This particular trip was different, it was a night rafting trip, and the excitement was palpable. We loaded our rafts (well, pool toys that would serve as rafts) and headed to the river.
When we got to our drop-in point we discovered that the parking lot was closed, and we had to change our plan. We knew the river by heart, like the lyrics to the new Blink-182 single, and thought a change would be fine. We moved our drop-in point down the river to a spot we weren’t familiar with and jumped in, hyped and ready to raft.
As the night wore on the river became unfamiliar and we realized we were lost. Our original plan was specifically designed from point A to point B. With that purpose in mind we would have returned home safely. Once we had to change our plans with no purpose other than to be on the river, we got lost. Just as there are hundreds of rivers in Oregon, there are hundreds of accounting software options. How do you pick the right accounting software and not end up lost? There are a couple key things I tell my clients to look for.
- Was the software built with your specific industry in mind? Just like each river is vastly different, so is each accounting software option. Software built with an industry specific focus will have different functionality that will be easy to use. I have written more than my fair share of gigantic Excel formulas to get a functionality I need. There is often built in functionality for industry specific software that alleviates the pain of spending all day writing one Excel formula.
- Does the accounting software play well with others? Some software works better than others when it comes to integrating third party information. This is something to look for in a software so you are not forced to manually integrate data. Other accounting software has its own custom extensions that take away the need for multiple integrations. This allows a smooth flow of information through one system.
- Is the software user friendly? Someone once said Excel was easy to learn but could take a lifetime to master. Some software is just more user friendly than others. If you are looking for accounting software to be used by accountants and non-accountants alike, the interface should be easy to learn, but should also have many different customizable options.
- What is the price? Spock’s father Sarek said it best when he said “But at what cost?” It is difficult to gauge pricing between software because each product will come with unique features. A software that can replace many different business functions might be more expensive at first, but you will pay less overall with multiple functionalities being handled by one software.
In the end, our rafting trip turned out to be a great learning experience. Our parents notified the police when we did not return home at the agreed upon time. After hours of walking through leech infested swamps without shoes, we were found on a backroad miles from where we were supposed to be.
Picking the right accounting can leave you feeling as lost as a bunch of scared teenage boys on a night rafting trip. This list should help plan for success in selecting accounting software.
Have any ideas for other ways to avoid confusion when selecting software? Let me know below!