How to Select the Right Accounting Software

By Collins, J. Carlton | Journal of Accountancy, October 1999 | Go to article overview

How to Select the Right Accounting Software


Collins, J. Carlton, Journal of Accountancy


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

* THE INTERNET IS CHANGING the way businesses do business, and that means business managers must rethink what they expect from their accounting software. Your software should be able to

* Publish Web catalogs directly from, and make links to, the software's inventory module, which means customers can see, among other things, real-time information on prices and quantities on hand.

* Retrieve orders directly from the Web site and import them automatically into the sales order module. Print all reports to a Web page format.

* Allow users to access reports and accounting data across the Internet.

* WITH INTERNATIONAL SALES GAINING, even for smaller businesses, your accounting software system should be able to handle foreign currency, including fluctuating exchange rates.

* WHILE IT'S HARD TO RATE software user-friendliness, it should at least have the following attributes: graphic guidance, default-rich settings and a "look and feel" that's comfortable to all those who use the product.

* THE SOFTWARE MUST address the Y2K bug. Some software is fully compliant and other packages are only compatible; it's best to have compliant software.

Handling the Web and international commerce.

The Internet is changing the way businesses do business, and that means business managers must rethink what they expect from their accounting software.

The Internet is transforming the retail channel--from an elaborate distribution system with wholesalers, distributors and a vast array of retailers to a simplified system in which a growing number of sales are made directly to the consumer. For manufacturers of both consumer and industry products, that change translates into generally lower over-head--and new demands on accounting systems.

Recognizing this trend, many accounting software vendors have added features designed to accommodate the Internet. The new functions include the ability to

* Publish Web catalogs directly from, and make links to, the software's inventory module. This means customers can see, among other things, real-time information on prices and quantities on hand.

* Retrieve orders directly from the Web site and import them automatically into the sales order module. Print all reports to a Web page format.

* Allow users to access reports and accounting data across the Internet using a password.

* Let remote users securely enter accounting data and transactions via the Web.

* Track an order automatically via links to tracking pages of Federal Express or United Parcel Service.

* Allow users to send e-mail reports to users or groups of users.

* Configure a system to automatically send e-mail reports and messages when triggered by predefined events.

Exhibit 1, page 69, lists the Internet features of leading accounting software products. Three accounting software vendors at the forefront of Internet applications are Great Plains, SBT and RealWorld. All three provide Web sites where prospects can test the Internet features they're interested in. At the Great Plains site, users can log on and operate Great Plains Dynamics C/S+ across the Internet. SBT's site provides links to more than 200 companies that use the SBT Web-Trader module to sell goods and services across the Internet. Real-World's Web site allows users to log onto a virtual Web store that can be created in less than 30 minutes using the RealWorld Expertise new Web site wizard. Simply answer a few dozen questions and Expertise generates a complete, ready-to-run Web site using data and graphics contained in the inventory module. The resulting site is linked automatically to the accounting data, as are sales tax, discounts and freight charge calculations.

Exhibit 1: Internet Features of Accounting Software

                                      Produces a      Retrieves
                                      Ready-to-        Orders
                                       Publish        From the
                                     Web Catalog         Web

For the low-end market

BusinessWorks for Windows 12. 

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