How to Choose the Right Accounting System Provider
Now this is a very serious question as the wrong advice or decision can give rise to dire consequences. The following actions are guidelines only, much of the information needed to make such a decision, however, is not readily available. Research has shown that the biggest problem with all of accounting software is inferior providers. Presented below are my suggested actions to take when choosing a reseller.
10 Actions to Take When Choosing an accounting system provider
1. Understand the consequences.
The software provider – customer relationship is often likened to marriage; your chosen software providerr is probably going to be with you for a long time. You will rely on the software provider for updates, additional functionality, training, support, advice and troubleshooting. As when taking your car to a garage, a trust between the two must exist. I would advise evaluating several providers closely.
Use specific software provider selection criteria and apply it to all candidates.
Our criteria for selecting a software provider includes:
- At least three experienced consultants on staff, with at least five years of experience each.
- All consultants trained and accredited and in good standing with the software house.
- All consultants receive ongoing training - ask to see certificates.
- At least one locally based support person dedicated full time.
- Staff should have at least 35 customer implementations under their belt.
- At least three customer references – be sure to check.
- Software house reference – be sure to check.
- Evidence of a continued marketing program.
- Regular attendance to software house conferences.
- Check out their offices in person, this is usually a very good indicator of the business partner.
- Check with Companies House that accounts are filed and in order.
- Background check with your accountant, is positive.
- Always Check with credit bureau such as CreditSafe for a positive rating.
- Software provider is able to meet your required deadline for installation.
2. Don’t blindly trust Software House referrals.
Software provider referrals from the software author are not necessarily your best option. Some software houses simply rotate referrals among all resellers in a given territory. If you simply go with what the software house gives you you may not necessarily receive the best referral in your area.
Also, pay careful attention when using Web referral sources. Some of them will refer you to the highest bidding reseller, which could be a poor performing software provider.The best referral sites are those that ‘vet’ the providers they include and list all of the resellers available.
3. Evaluate the software provider.
As you meet with resellers evaluating potential accounting systems, you should be asking certain questions in order to evaluate the reseller as well, an example would be to discuss some of the points listed in item 2. above. You should also note the level of professionalism shown and respect for you and your staff. Quite often the case may be that the product is great but you have reservations about the reseller. The answer here is simply find another provider for the product.
4. Assess the software providers ethics and professionalism.
As a general rule, the better business partners would appear to have higher standards of ethics and professionalism. They generally do not talk poorly of their competition, they do not pressure you into a decision, and all dealings appear to be above board. You should avoid any software providers whose sales pitch revolves around rubbishing the competition, or who constantly sets deadlines in an attempt to close you.
Before signing an order ask to see specific contract terms and conditions, some unethical software providers have quite lengthy notice periods and other penalty clauses that they apply should you wish to terminate the contract. If in doubt ask the software provider to explain the clauses or get the terms and conditions checked by a solicitor.
6. Ask about availability and personnel.
Before you enter into a contract, you should get your software provider to provide (in writing if necessary) a proposed start date and estimated completion date. Do not be afraid to ask for a list of key employees who will deal with your project or even meet with them. Staff assignment is important as you would want your project to be allocated with seasoned employees who know what they are doing, not inexperienced staff who bring little benefit to your job. Make sure that you cross-check the assigned staff with your competency levels in item two.
7. Get details of services.
Before you sign ask the software provider for a confirmed time/price for install. A seasoned business partner will know exactly how much work is involved, if they are reluctant you may be right to question the professionalism of the provider. This document will help you make sure the software provider delivers all of the services included in your agreement.
8. Check references.
Always always check references. You should ask for at least three recent install references. Be sure to question the reference site on the product and the software provider staff. If they can’t meet this simple requirement, then things don’t add up – Continue your search elsewhere.
Key questions to ask include:
Did the provider install your system on time and on budget?
Were you happy with the business partner? Would you use them again?
Which staff members were involved on your job, and what were they like?
Are you pleased with the software?
9. Make sure they’re good listeners.
Good providers will listen to your requirements and make a concerted effort to understand your business, your needs, and your goals. They will then attempt to achieve the goals, designing a system around them.
Getting the right software provider is crucial to a successful implementation. The skill set needed to install software or a printer is not necessarily the same skill set needed to design and implement a system. The bulk of time spent implementing will be training your staff, look for a software provider that shows patience, is personable, and respectful of you and your staff. In addition they should demonstrate a clear understanding of your requirements and know what they are talking about. Do your homework and always check references. Secure dates and anticipated milestones in writing before signing on the line. Pay for services at agreed milestones; do not pay too far in advance and be wary of software providers who insist on full payment in advance.
Give the Angel Team a call to discuss your requirements on 01923 470899 or email them