So you know that you need accountancy practice management software – or at least I hope you do as our last blog outlined the reasons 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 due to there being such a lot of software for accountants out there, but it doesn’t have to be so daunting. To help you make the best decision when it comes to investing in the right accountancy practice management software for you, here are six questions you need to consider before buying new software for accountants.
What’s wrong with the type of Accountancy Practice Management Software that you are currently using?
If you’re looking into accountancy practice management software, chances are, you’re probably not happy with what you already have in place. Now, this unhappiness 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 and shiny software for accountants that everyone's 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 find that you answered “No” to one or more of these questions, you now know that you need to update your accountancy software and what you are looking for from your next one.
If you answered “Yes” to all of them, then at least you know that it satisfies your requirements right now and you don’t run the risk of investing in software that you don’t actually need.
Once you’ve checked your existing software and you’ve identified that it’s time for a new one, this is where you have to ask yourself these 6 vital questions.
6 questions to consider before buying
1. Do you actually need it?
Once you’ve identified that you need new software to replace your existing one, you then have to be sure that you actually need this shiny new one that you’re considering. What I mean by this is, don’t get wooed by the “does everything” software. It may sound like the easiest and most convenient solution, but you can easily end up paying more for things that your firm doesn’t actually need.
To identify whether you need this 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;
- its integration 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?
The last thing you want is to make a big investment in some 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 as 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?
Another important consideration when choosing practice management software is whether to use a cloud system where everything can be accessed via the internet or a hybrid system. While working in the cloud means no installations, no hardware, no worrying about updates, and mobilisation of your workforce, software that is full cloud may lose some full 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 and 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 software for accountants as most 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.
In reality, 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, so when choosing your accountancy practice management software, consider where you want your firm to go and how long you realistically think it will take to get there.
You want software that will make your practice work more efficiently and cost-effectively, but after you make your projections about your business’s growth. 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 so choose something that 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 either being 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.
Invest in the right software (if you even need to)
It might be that the software you already have is suitable for where you are at the moment, but if you’ve found that you’ve outgrown it and you need to upgrade, then consider these 6 things before you invest so that you know that it is money well spent.
In order to successfully choose and implement the right practice management software, you need more than just product information. Consider the needs of your practice, the strengths and weaknesses of your current system, and your vision of the firm’s future and you’ll make the right software investment for you.
Good practice management is essential whatever situation you find yourself in! Find out what caused us to put in place a new practice management system in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis