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February 2014

 
By: Moira Alexander, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, PMP, Conture—Director, IT Advisory

 
Are You Working Harder Than Your Accounting Software?

Accounting Software Features That Can Help Your Business  Work Smarter Not Harder!

You are a small or mid-size business owner; each day you should be able to log onto your computer and effortlessly get an up-to-the minute financial picture of your business. The problem is you just cannot seem access this information until the end of the month or later in some cases.In today’s business climate, that is simply not quick enough.

Sometimes fast financial decisions need to be made; yet knowing how this will impact the bottom line can make it almost impossible to move quickly enough.

There may be times when just not knowing the cash flow position is enough to miss opportunities or suffer costly mistakes.

Today many small to mid-size business owners are just are not getting the information they need to be as agile as they would like; and when the information does come through, it is usually too late. This after-the-fact information simply does not help to support the business’s needs in a way that is useful. It can be a game changer for many small to mid-size businesses, due to increased risks of losing to competitors, resulting in decreased profitability.

Many business owners are so busy; it seems easier to just “make do” longer than they should. This can translate to an inefficient use of resources and time, which sets them up for lost productivity, increased costs and ultimately lost profits. If this is the case with your business, it may be time to re-evaluate the accounting & financial reporting software the business relies on. If you are in a wait-and-see pattern with your financial details then you are working harder than your accounting software.

It may come as a surprise to many small to mid-size business owners they can improve their profits by simply finding an accounting service provider that understands their business, collaborates with them, and uses a world-class accounting & management information system to help meet their business and financial needs

Using a system that provides real-time financial data is an effective way to improve a business’s earnings. Recently on the Price of Business Talk Radio Show, two construction companies were interviewed about their cost saving strategies; they touted a large part of their increased success during the recession was in part due to a bold move in implementing a new more efficient accounting system. A key feature was one that allowed them to receive daily updates on their financial picture, which enable faster and better decision-making (scroll to the construction articles at the bottom of the page).

So What’s Changed?

Gone are the days where small businesses had to install software on each standalone computer. There is no more need to go through the stress of synchronizing records manually, or updating software versions and having accounting records only accessible by one or a few staff members from one location.

Today, there is no longer a need to worry as much about manually backing up files onsite and version control issues. What is worst is though, is small business in America is at increased risk of cyber attacks, which in turn could result in devastating losses.

For many business owners, this can be a scary proposition, and just talking about it makes most light headed, bringing on a sweat and producing that “dear in headlights” sort of look. Just the thought of starting new with another accounting software package seems overwhelming, not to mention that dreaded question “how much is this going to cost me?”

So what should a small or mid-size business look for in new accounting & financial reporting software?

While there can be a lot of options and considerations for selecting the right accounting system, the following is only a partial list of key things to look for. This list may make it a bit easier to sort through options and find features of an effective, efficient and robust accounting software solution to effectively support small to mid-size business goals.

Real-time business insights:

Useful data should be available as it is keyed into the system making it as current as it can be. This enables businesses to make fast decisions with confidence to provide decision makers with true business insights when it’s needed.

Dashboards: Some accounting software solutions now offer great dashboards that can be customized based on a user’s role or needs to display a “quick glance” screen of key data. Especially for owners and key personnel this makes it easy to make quick and confident business decisions.

Cash flow management capabilities: Every business owner needs to be able to manage cash flow effectively, knowing what is due, when it’s due, and how much, so that they can better plan and not get caught off guard by unforeseen expenses.

Accessible anytime, anywhere: Again as mentioned above, it is critical the accounting software allows for growth so that no matter how large the business gets, based on authority levels, staff from various departments can access real-time data simultaneously and see changes updated immediately.

There are several accounting systems out there for small to mid-size businesses, that tout they offer these features but not all of them truly do. Do your homework, and make sure your business’s current and future needs will be met to avoid a costly mistake.

This is only a small list of things to look for to effectively support your business decisions; there are many other features and considerations that can make your business more profitable and agile. In addition, ask for help if you are not sure where to start, or how to evaluate options to find the right accounting system to take your business to the next level.

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