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The objective of a new accounting application, no matter if it’s a move or first time purchase, is to have better control of your business information. As the business owner, you need software that will help you easily keep your finger of the pulse of the business. The process outlined in this guide will help to increase your efficiency and improve accuracy, which will result in lower costs and more timely business statistics and financial reports – in other words, provide better tools for better management decisions. No one will have more concern with the financial health of a business more than its owner. It is important that you participate both in the selection and setup of the accounting system. Equally important, you must review the business financial information on a regular basis (monthly at a minimum), so that, as the business owner, you are aware of it’s financial health. Having made these statements let’s begin.
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Define YOUR Business: In 100 words or less, describe the products and services you provide to your clients.

Identify YOUR Needs: The purpose of this step is to help you identify business and application software requirements. Make sure to identify special system requirements.

Network Requirements: Make a list of any future network requirements you might need, such as additional users or remote access.

Current Features: Make a list of the features, reports and forms that you use now in your current system and would like to continue using in any new system.

Required Features: Make 2 additional lists. One of the features, reports and forms you don’t have in your current system and that you must have in any new system and two features, reports and forms you would like to have.

Growth: Determine how much you will need the system to grow with your company.  Will your new software be able to hold your information in 3-5years?  Some applications have no built-in purge routines and limitations on the number of records they can maintain. Make sure to identify the limitations of each system you will be evaluating. Identify if there are any add on applications that you may need to consider once you have the core accounting needs met which will help improve your business efficiencies. Consider implementing your system in phases so you and your staff are not overwhelmed with your daily tasks and a new system. If you plan and your chosen partner executes well this will be successful.

Customizable System: Determine whether the ability to customize the system will be important for maintaining needed information that is critical to your business.

Customizable Reporting: Decide if you will need to be able to customize reports or dash-board features to quickly provide your business with the real time information it needs to thrive. Ask for estimates on creating those custom reports that are necessary for your business.

Hardware: Take an inventory of your existing hardware. Request the white papers or system requirements for your prospective application. Compare the two before deciding on a specific new accounting software solution. The new or upgraded hardware costs should be included in your overall project budgets.

Launch Date: Decide when you would like to start using the new software. Plan accordingly to determine a purchase date for your new hardware and software. Remember to consider time for training needs or required customization.

Review Each Application: Review each application to your satisfaction. Base this review on your business and system requirements with the goal to identify possible areas of dissatisfaction with each accounting application.  Remember this is a commitment, both on your part, your staff and the part of the vendor you select. You must budget the amount quoted plus about 10 – 20 % to cover incidental setup and installation costs. You must also allocate the personnel and resources necessary to complete this project. You should consider a needs analysis if you are unable to complete this step on your own.

Accounting systems will not eliminate paperwork for a business. They should help you realize improved organization and management of your business information. It is important to start a system off clean and in balance. Each month you should evaluate your system to confirm that it is still in balance. This is a best practice and is even more important than when you first transition to a new system. With today’s technology, you can control the destiny of your business by efficiently managing an accounting system to monitor the financial health and underlying details that make it a success. You should have a demo of the software with a live person and also request a working demo you can review at your own pace. This will help you and your staff confirm that you have made the right choice.