Integrated Accounting Software
Companies large and small have spent the past years investing in accounting software applications to provide solutions for their businesses. Many financial institutions are faced with a choice over which software packages to implement. One such challenge relates to choosing accounting software. More specifically, the challenge relates to whether a fully integrated package is a preferable option to implementing separate packages that would have to be interfaced.
Businesses, particularly small businesses, attempt to manage their accounting needs by using a combination of unrelated software for functions such as: online banking software, spreadsheet programs, and word-processing programs. These incongruent solutions do not even accommodate what are considered basic business accounting needs.
Businesses were surveyed and many agreed they needed a change. These businesses were looking for low cost software that would easily combine with already existing software. Integration –that is, a way to make communication available between all system applications—would be able to take care of that. However, not everyone agrees that is the solution.
There are companies that see benefits in the separate accounting software package approach. Some of these are lower initial and maintenance cost, ease of implementation, and better management.
At the same time, it cannot be denied that the majority believe fully integrated accounting software is the way to go. Vendors and users of this software point to benefits such as more consistent data, better support, and ease of upgrade as some of the key advantages. More importantly, they believe they have the answer to any of the concerns associated with integrated accounting software. For example, businesses have voiced legitimate concerns about the initial cost outlay, but the counter argument points to the fact that increased profit provided by streamlining the operation far outweighs the purchase and maintenance cost of the integrated accounting software. Businesses also worry about the difficulty of learning a new system. The fear is employees will get overwhelmed by the complexity of the integrated software. The counter argument for this concern says that consolidating all financial transactions into one integrated accounting system will actually make tasks simpler.
Even after a business has finally decided on integrated software, there is still a decision to be made. Integrated accounting software is marketed as software modules or as an all-in-one system with all accounting functions in one package, and –again- both have pros and cons. The all-in-one system is easier to install, but this approach means it could take longer to configure the software to fit any specific business. While the modules allow a business to purchase exactly what they want and need, data can only be transferred back and forth between them provided all modules belong to the same integrated accounting system.