Accounting Software Formats

Many firms are looking to upgrade or replace their accounting software.  They look forward to a more efficient system but are concerned about making such a large change and the consequences of making the wrong decision.  In the past we looked at fairly similar features and the higher the price the better the software we found.  Today all bets are off and it’s hard to even compare prices of possible solutions. 

The accounting software ecosystem has changed and there are terms that we may not be familiar with or we may not completely understand.  In this article, I’d like to discuss the options:  cloud applications, hosted software, client-server software, and desktop software.  All of these options are very different and the option you choose will significantly affect your access, functionality, workflow, and costs.

Cloud Applications are programs that reside on the software provider’s servers and they are installed and updated by the provider.  You will not need to maintain servers or take daily backups, examples of such applications are QuickBooks Online, NetSuite,and  Xero. 

Hosted Applications are not really a program but a hybrid solution where you select an accounting solution that meets your needs and it is installed on a server provided by a “hosting” company.  This option allows you to choose a software package that meets all your needs without having to maintain a server and the necessary IT staff. 

Client Server Applications are programs that reside on your server and are accessed from various workstations.  The computing is performed at the server and therefore is faster and does not require as robust workstations.  

Desktop Applications are programs that vary from very basic to advanced software that reside on your workstation/computer,  These applications can be single user or accessed by other users on your network. The computing is performed at your computer and will be dependent upon the speed of your computer (and network if shared with other users) Examples of such applications are QuickBooks, and Peachtree. 

I hope this summary has helped you understand the Accounting Software options and will help you narrow down an appropriate software for your business.  


Hiring Qualified Employees

Hiring Qualified Employees

This week I received an e-mail from client asking me if I knew of anyone with experience in a particular software package for a managerial opening in a firm.  I actually get this question quite often and could probably make a fortune as a referral agency.  However the question always strikes me as odd and wrong.

Finding Qualified Candidates

We really need to fill our job opportunities with qualified candidates that can perform their jobs with a variety of skills and tools that the employer uses.  A qualified manager should be able to learn new software and adapt. I’m probably aging myself with this comment but imagine a journalist in the 1970 who applied for a position, would experience with a specific brand of electric typewriter be the first question asked?  I’m assuming not.  I feel we should hire employees with experience that pertain to the job without regard to specifics that can change over the years.  Accounting software changes but leadership skills and knowledge of accounting principles will help a manager adapt to the changing business environment.

Testing Prospective Candidates

I’ve also been approached by employers who are asking for a test to determine the capabilities of prospective employees that say they have experience with particular software or task.  May clients asked me this and I say I did not have a test.  Creating a test would be cumbersome and should really be individualized to the job duties.  I’ve seen tests on the internet but I’ve never been impressed with the results.  Many employers use these tests with disappointing results.

Extended Interviews

I’ve had clients who decided to have a prospective employees work for a few hours with pay so they to assess their skills.  I’ve also seen employees work with temporary employment agencies so they can really see an employee’s skills before hiring with great results.  Keep in mind that if you use one of these strategies, don’t forget the goal is to find a qualified employee not to find  someone who can start on Monday!

Client Experience

I had a client in desperate need of assistance.    The applicant had a background in the software working at high level in a financing company.  When asked to perform routine tasks for an entry level bookkeeper in a distribution company she was unfamiliar with inventory control concepts and workflow.  The company decided that she was bright and could learn the job and hired her.  She quit the job within 3 months when a better offer requiring her previous skills came in.  Although she appreciated the company for giving her a chance, she felt that she did not have the proper background to excel at the job and was frustrated with the position.  The company was also frustrated since they had spent time training a new employee in the software (but not distribution concepts) and could not understand why she not performing the job duties efficiently