Believe it or not, you as an accountant have the knowledge and skills to help your clients select the right accounting software for their business â and you need to own it.
Giving a client solid advice on whether it's time to change their accounting system is extremely valuable to the client, and you are in the best position when it comes to any and all financial decisions your clients make.
When a business first opens, accountants often recommend the easiest option to their clients â usually a basic accounting package that is low-priced and fairly easy to use. As businesses grow, they may also outgrow that system. Accountants can and should be able to help their customers determine whether they are ready for a new accounting system and aid them in identifying viable accounting system options.
When helping your clients decide this important task, consider these key indicators that it is time to consider moving to a new system:
- Transaction entry is slow and the system is locking up or kicking them out.
- The system constantly needs to be restarted to function properly.
- Reports in the current system can no longer provide the desired information.
- There are so many work-arounds in place (with manual processes often replacing automated ones) that they are difficult to keep track of.
- The support system cannot keep up with your client's needs.
- The data limits of the current system have been reached, so the client is no longer able to enter more transactions or inventory items.
Once the need for a new system has been established, the accountant should feel empowered to aid clients in finding a system that is right for their client's business. Accountants don't need to know all the details of higher-level accounting packages, just general information about a few packages to know which ones will fit for specific client needs.
You should also know general price points for the packages so you can then help clients narrow down to a short list of software packages you think will work for their needs. Use these general rules about helping your clients find the right accounting system for their business:
- Pricing for accounting systems varies greatly and is typically dependent on the number of concurrent users, customization capabilities, data needs (especially if the system is externally hosted), support level, and also general system quality.
- If your client has specific needs and you are unaware of where to find the right system, use a tool like www.findaccountingsoftware.com to help narrow down options. You or your client can select the functionality they need, and will be matched with corresponding accounting system providers.
- The quality of an accounting system's training and support are critical to the success of a new system, so be sure the company you recommend has excellent training and support.
- Your client should understand their own needs before conducting the search for a new system, and it is best if they write them down on paper.
- The accounting system vendor should be able to answer any questions about the client's list of needs and demonstrate how the system can fulfill those needs. (Be sure to see the demo to verify first-hand that the system can handle them all.)
Helping your clients select an accounting system is beneficial to them and it can also help you as an accountant receive the information you require from your clients in a timely manner. An accounting software switch is a big move. By helping your clients, you are actually making a big difference in the way their business functions â and in fact even their profitability â for many years to come.