So you know that you need accountancy practice management software – (if you're still not sure have a look at why your small accountancy firm needs it ASAP )- but perhaps you don’t know where to start. This is a pretty common dilemma among accountants. There are so many great tools and systems to look at, but it doesn’t have to be so daunting. We want to help you make the best decision when it comes to investing in the right practice management software; here are six questions you need to consider before taking the plunge.
What’s wrong with the type of Accountancy Practice Management Software that you're already using?
If you’re looking into accountancy practice management software, chances are, you’re not happy with what you already have in place. This could be because you have the wrong software or have outgrown it, or it could be absolutely fine and you’ve just been swept up in the "next new thing" that accountants are talking about.
To check whether you’re using the right accountancy practice management software, answer the following:
- Is it tailor-made for accounting practices?
- Does it satisfy all of your firm’s needs?
- Has it made your firm more efficient and productive?
- Are the different functions (client communication, task management etc) efficient enough?
- Are you optimising your profitability per task, client, and accountant?
- Can your employees access it from anywhere at any time?
- Does it support scalability and growth or does it limit your firm?
If you've answered “No” to one or more of these questions, you need to update your practice management software. It's time to start thinking about what you need.
If you answered “Yes” to all of them, then at least you know that your practice management software satisfies your requirements. You don't want to risk investing in software that you don’t actually need do you?
Once you’ve checked your existing software and you’ve identified that it’s time for a new one, it's time to ask yourself these 6 vital questions.
The resources within the club have been a lifesaver and saved me months of work
It’s not just the flowcharts, checklists, plans or recordings from the club’s resources which have helped our firm. We’ve sent members of our firm to the free workshops for members run by the club. They have been invaluable to help us bring team members along the journey that the firm is currently on.
The amount of resources, assistance and advice has been nothing short of mind-blowing
Within a month of joining the club we have:
- Attracted a client who have committed to fee just shy of £500 per month that we would have historically charged £200 per month
- Have proposals out there that would more than double our clients paying over £300 per month including one where; subject to acceptance, would be in excess of £1,000 per month
6 questions to consider before buying new practice management software
1. Do you actually need it?
You've realised that you need new practice management software but do you actually need this lovely shiny new one that you’re considering? What I mean by this is, don’t get wooed by the “does everything, shiny bright & new” software. It may sound like the easiest and most convenient solution, but you could end up paying for things that your firm doesn’t actually need.
To check whether you really do need this particular software, think about:
- what features, functions, and reports that you will need the software to do,
- its ease of use,
- the type of support that you want, and;
- how it will integrate into your firm.
Once you have identified what you really need as opposed to non-essential features, you can make the best investment decision instead of paying more for suite software that has features you will never need or use.
2. Does it integrate with your compliance software?
Don't be the accountant who makes a big investment in top-of-the-range software only to find that it isn’t compatible with your existing software. Always check this beforehand for a smooth integration!
Accountancy practice management software that does integrate with your compliance software provides many benefits for your firm. You won’t need to continuously update client details when they change or adjust your workflow; accounting workflow software automatically updates when accounts go out and are filed.
3. Should you use a cloud accounting software or a hybrid system?
Then we have the choice between whether to use a cloud system (where everything can be accessed via the internet), or a hybrid system. Working in the cloud means no installations, no hardware, no worrying about updates, and mobilisation of your workforce. But do check. because practice management software that is fully cloud may lose some functionality that you may be used to from a desktop solution.
Although a hybrid system doesn’t have all the benefits that cloud accounting has, it does allow the business to keep operating even when your system is not connected to the internet. This means that connection problems won’t hinder workflow! When the system is reconnected to the internet again, all the data will be synchronized with the cloud server. The choice here comes down to what is a priority for you and your firm.
4. How long will it actually take to set up?
It’s important to be objective when looking at workflow practice management software for accountants. Most if not all are going to claim that it is “easy to install” with “effortless integration,” so don’t forget to consider how long it will actually take when looking at each system.
Most software will take hours and hours to set up so don’t underestimate this time. Ignore the enticing buzz words of “easy” and “effortless” and do your own research. Reviews are a great place to start, but also ask for recommendations from your contacts and even consider paying a vendor to help you set it up. Believe me, the investment is more than worth because the sooner you set up and know how to use the system, the sooner you can reap the rewards!
5. How much growth do you expect from your firm over the short-to-medium term?
Keeping up with trends in technology can really help to propel your accounting practice forward. When you choose your accountancy practice management software, thnk about where you want your firm to go and how long you (realistically) think it will take to get there.
You want practice management software that will make your practice work more efficiently and cost-effectively. You also want it to grow as you do so do check your business growth plans and forecasts. Why? Because you want it to be scalable so that it can meet your growth and help you grow even more. Nothing is worse than making an investment and outgrowing it within a few months. Make sure your new practice management software won’t hinder your growth.
6. Is it better for you to choose ‘best of breed’ or an ‘all-in-one’ solution?
Accountancy practice management software typically falls into two camps. An all-in-one solution OR a best-of-breed which will only do one part of your practice management. To help you make the best decision for you and your firm, try to:
- Identify your requirements,
- Differentiate between essential functions and desirable functions,
- Research software and give yourself options,
- Look at case studies or speak to practices of a similar size who have used this software, and;
- Think about quality, the need for training, integration, support, updates, major benefits and limitations before making a final decision.
Which is best for a small accountancy firm? Read more about the benefits and drawbacks of both systems in our blog: Best of breed vs ‘does everything’ Practice Management Software.