Tips for Researching Alternatives to QuickBooks
Tips for researching Alternatives to QuickBooks: What To Do If You think You’re Outgrowing Your Entry-Level Accounting Software.
Every growing organization reaches a point where the tools that once supported their initial growth begin to hinder their ability to continue moving forward. Is your entry-level accounting software, such as QuickBooks holding your business and people back? When your business begins to diversify and become more complex, you need more than basic bookkeeping, inventory management, and historical reporting. You need a solution that delivers efficiency and accuracy to everyone in the organization – in short a complete business management solution. Evaluating alternatives to QuickBooks may seem difficult at first, but it doesn't have to be. The options available to growing small and midsize businesses like yours have never been better or more affordable.
Below are the basic steps to deciding which of the available alternatives to QuickBooks is best for your business needs.
- Identify the signs your business has outgrown QuickBooks or other entry-level accounting solution.
- Understand the questions the crucial questions to ask during the evaluation process.
How to Tell if Your Business is Ready to Move Forward with One of the Many Alternatives to QuickBooks
First ask yourself, are there people in my office wasting valuable time doing double data entry or trying to configure QuickBooks to do things it wasn't really designed to do? When business is first start to outgrow QuickBooks they often resort to manual workarounds or solutions that are rubberbanded together. While these may work in the short term, the longer you use them the more productivity you sacrifice.
If you can identify with any of these situations, it is time to graduate from your entry-level accounting solution and start looking at alternatives to QuickBooks.
- You struggle to keep up with demand even though you've added headcount – As you expand product lines and enter new markets, your business processes become increasingly complex. And as a result, even the most basic accounting functions take hours, or even worse days to complete.
- You can no longer wrap your arms or head around the entire business anymore – When small businesses are just starting out, there's usually a one-to-one correspondence between employees and the business functions that they handle. But as businesses grow, it often becomes necessary for multiple employees to contribute to each business function. With entry-level accounting solutions like QuickBooks, it's difficult produce an accurate audit trail that traces exactly who has done what.
- You can't scale operations to support your growth – An expanding business typically requires more people, improved productivity and increased collaboration across departments in order to meet demand. If your business is held back by the number of people who can access critical information, transaction limits or database size, it may be time to look at alternatives to QuickBooks.
- You are reactive instead of proactive – Many entry-level accounting solutions can give you a snapshot of your sales performance for the past quarter, but do you know which products deliver the largest proportion of your overall profits and which customers are likely to purchase most often? Instead of looking at reports that detail past performance, to truly take your business to the next level you need insight into current activities and developing trends. The right business management solution can offer visibility into what drives your profitability and enhance your ability to turn those profits into cash flow to support future growth.
- You are unable to meet customer expectations – If you're using QuickBooks or another entry-level accounting system to manage your finances, you likely have a host of other tools that you depend on to make your business function on a day-to-day basis. However, when those systems do not talk to one another it can be difficult to track customer interactions, forecast demand etc.
Now That You Know Your Business Is Ready for Alternatives to QuickBooks, Here Are Some Tips on How to Evaluate Your Options
As you begin the research process, you will discover there is a vast array of enterprise resource management (ERP) or business management solutions to choose from. Sometimes, from a functionality perspective it may be difficult to tell many of them apart. Most ERP or business management solutions that go beyond entry-level functionality offer financial management, reporting, supply chain management, project accounting, field service and customer relationship management capabilities. In addition, some vendors offer business intelligence functionality or features geared towards the needs of a specific industry.
Decide what basic functionality you require, consider
- Key differentiators – These are things like user experience, collaborative capabilities and deployment options.
- Budget – How much can you comfortably spend on your new business management system?
Five key questions to ask during the evaluation process
- How easy is the system to learn and use?
Your employees are already familiar with QuickBooks and you don't want to lose valuable time training them on the new system when they could be contributing to the growth of your business. The good news is you don't have to, look for a solution that offers:
- an intuitive user experience
- role specific dashboards and a clear workflows
- built-in productivity tools
If it's familiar it's easy, and the easier your new business management system is to use the more likely your employees will adopt it without having to be forced to do so.
- Does the solution support different work styles?
The consumerization of technology over the last several years has further blurred the lines between personal and work computing. Now, users expect that the software they use, whether designed for business or pleasure will be easy-to-use, accessible on any device and always available. Make a list of all the devices (desktop/laptops, tablets and smartphones) your employees depend on on a daily basis and then assess how well each solution can support these devices. The best solution will allow your people to be productive no matter where work takes them.
- Does the vendor offer deployment options that fit my needs?
As you evaluate new business management software you want to keep in mind what IT model will be needed to support it. For instance, if you're currently running an online version of QuickBooks or another entry-level accounting solution, do you plan on investing in these servers and other infrastructure needed to maintain your new solution in-house? Or, on the other hand, if you're currently using an outdated legacy system perhaps you want to move to a subscription or cloud-based system instead. Each of these deployment options offer their own unique advantages and disadvantages, for additional guidance, click here.
- What kind of after sales support does the vendor offer?
Most small businesses do not have the IT knowledge to deploy a new business management solution on their own. As a result, you will probably need implementation assistance. So, it's important to consider the following:
- Does the vendor offer local implementation assistance via partners/providers in your area?
- Does the vendor demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement?
- Will your pricing remain consistent year after year?
- Does the vendor hold your data for you? Do you know where it will be stored?
- Does the vendor understand the needs of small and midsize business?
As you evaluate vendors, consider their track record for helping businesses like yours achieve the results you want. Customer case studies and references are very useful in this case.