What Would You Do? | AccountingWEB

What Would You Do?

By Bill Kennedy - Here's the situation: you're a large software company and you own several competing software packages. You want to keep your customers. In fact you want to build a relationship with them so they keep updating their software instead of holding on to one version until it's obsolete and then going with the newest product from a competitor.

Here are some of the problems.

  1. The products have been built on different platforms. None of them uses your latest technology.
  2. Accounting systems are incredibly complex, responding as they do to different business practices and regulatory environments. (To understand the complexity, just imagine building a system that handles both US sales tax and Canadian goods and services tax.)
  3. Your first thought was to merge the packages, but your developers told you to forget it. It would take centuries of programming to capture all of the features of the packages.
  4. Oh, by the way, each package has a loyal customer base that would view being forced to "upgrade" to a different package with deep suspicion.

What would you do?

Me, I would look for any common weaknesses in the packages. For example, if my customers were routinely turning to third party software, such as Crystal Reports, I would look to see what that problem was. Maybe I could replace the reporting in all of the packages with something new, e.g. SQL Reporting Services and save a lot of resources.

If I had a proven user interface that my customers were used to, such as Outlook, then I would move all of the packages to that same look and feel. This would start the process of bringing the different user groups together.

Without having any inside knowledge, this is what I think Microsoft is doing. I was just treated to a demonstration of Dynamics NAV 2009 (formerly Navision). Speaking as a jaded, skeptical accounting system user, I am happy with the directions I see. As outlined above, I like the overall approach. As is typical with Microsoft, there are teasers in the software, e.g. role based security that attempts to simplify setup by grouping tasks that are typically found in the same job description. I see the beginnings of a workflow system here. (Workflow means that the system passes transactions between users as each finishes their task, for example, when you complete a journal entry, it is automatically passed to your supervisor for approval and posting.)

I like the way that Microsoft is working with user displayable fields. The reality is that fields that are critical to my business may be unimportant to you. The best way to deal with this is to make all of the fields available, and allow the users to decide which ones they want to see. This has always been a strength of Navision. I like how the new version enhances the presentation by allowing the user to pick a few key fields that are shown in what used to be the tab. For example, you no longer have to go to the Foreign tab to see the currency field if that's the only one you need. The best part of this approach, for me, is that it makes maximum use of the screen. It will be easier to make the data entry windows work with older monitors.

Have you see NAV2009? What did you think?

This blog

by Bill Kennedy, CA.IT, PMP - With over 25 years of accounting experience, Bill has a varied background in accounting management and accounting systems implementation, with a focus on the charitable sector. He is also an experienced volunteer board member and fundraiser.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.


Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.


Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.


Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".


William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.


Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.


Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.


Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.


The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.


FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.


Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.


Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.


AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.