Make Accounting Software Investment Pay Off

By Jack Mount | July 08, 2008
Accounting software is one of the most critical components to a plant's success, but it can also be one of the most frustrating. Every day, thousands of records impacting assets and liabilities are entered in the computer. Operators may pay little attention to where the information flows, and if the software is incorrectly set up, or users have had limited training and the work flow and output is not understood, financial analysis and decisions based on the information become a guess at best.

Sometimes a new employee under-appreciates or misunderstands the function or power of the software, which can result in confusion, wasted time and money, and an affected bottom line.

In other cases, a system may be in place and the set-up is sound, but help is needed in reviewing and understanding the document work flow. If that is an issue, consultants can help.

A client may not realize their accounting firm can serve in a consulting role, but we have helped many of our biofuel clients attain additional value. For example, close tracking and monitoring of "closing" is important. That information leads to a discussion on the key performance indicators and what key components are needed that fit the current environment. A recommendation is then made to manage the implementation of the software program. Some of the key indicators include where the points are to gather information, how to correctly capture the critical information, and identification of areas where functionality can be improved.

Clients need to understand that not all software may work for their environment or size of operation. Software is not the savior of the business but a valuable tool to manage the work flow properly and successfully. With programs in the marketplace such as SAP, PeopleSoft, QuickBooks, Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP and MAS 500, clients need to understand they all have similar functions with different depths of information. The size of the company, amount of detail required and the amount one is willing to spend will help determine which system will best create the information necessary to help the company succeed.

Accounting systems will never create great information. Only the people and the process will create great information. If the system creates, a new accounting system will only add to the disaster. Items such as where the business get its information, the capture points, and what kind of integration is needed to combine the existing accounting system into the new platform with minimal brain damage to the organization are key to this process.

Another key point is not allowing the software company to manage the implementation. While it may do a nice job of installing the software, specific outside training is needed by another resource provider to direct the implementation. This allows the client to have a person who understands the daily challenges and work flow to manage the implementation correctly and efficiently.

While each client is different, the four key points of a successful accounting system are:
1) understanding current information systems,
2) implementation of the existing systems in the new software,
3) refining new system inefficiencies and
4) creating an optimal system for the company. By managing the project effectively and in a scheduled manner through careful tracking, the investment will be more than worth it to address the company's needs.

Jack Mount is a manager in the agriculture group at Kennedy and Coe LLC. Reach him at jmount@kcoe.com or (970) 330-8860.