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How to Choose an Accounting Practice Management System July 14, 2023

When you’re looking for an accounting practice management system, you’re really talking about which software you need to use in order to manage everything. Unfortunately, the process of finding the best software for your firm can be overwhelming when looking at the various solutions and features. The simplest method of approaching this is, to begin with your needs in mind and forget about the features for now.

Accounting Practice Management System

Basing Your Decision on Your Accounting Practice Needs

You may feel like you want everything when it comes to buying your new accounting practice management software. You might be looking for software that runs all aspects of your accounting practice and that helps you provide an improved client experience and team collaboration, optimizes practice resources, tracks time, manages jobs, and makes the most out of current and future opportunities. 

However, there’s no perfect solution. No matter how ideal your chosen software may seem, there will be moments when you can’t implement certain functionality for whatever reason. Once you’ve made peace with that, you’ll be comfortable with choosing the best accounting practice management software for you, as opposed to looking for a magic bullet.

Conduct a self-inventory of what you need from the software. When doing this, take into account the innovations and improvements that you need to implement in your firm, as well as the process features that would provide your clients the most value. Use the information from this self-inventory to serve as your criteria when looking over various software solutions in order to avoid becoming distracted by shiny new object syndrome.

Your Knock-Out Criteria

So now you have a short list of your needs and have rejected any distractions that don’t support those needs. Next, you need to decide what would be deal breakers for any potential accounting practice management software solutions. This is your knock-out criteria. When paired with those features that present your needs, it makes choosing which software to implement much easier. Some examples that could be included among your deal breakers are budgetary concerns, a perceived lack of sport, and a lack of interaction with other systems.

Choosing an Accountant Practice Management Software Solution

Now you should have a list of potential accounting practice management software solutions and suppliers that at least come close to meeting your criteria. This is the point when you begin to whittle down your choices.

When choosing an accountant practice management software solution, you might decide to start by looking in Google. Just keep in mind that the very first software solutions you see won’t necessarily be the best fit for your firm, especially the sponsored ads that first appear. When looking for potential software solutions, browse through your industry contacts and ask your network. What software do your industry’s most respected peers use?

Your criteria might include the presence of automation to optimize your accounting practice workflows, for example. Or it might be an available integration link for your data collection.

Creating Your Shortlist

Creating Your Shortlist

The next thing to do in the process of choosing your accounting practice management software is to create a list of those solutions you’re strongly considering. This is when sales discussions concerning unnecessary functionalities take place. Just remember to keep your criteria in mind and don’t compromise or deviate. 

You can start by cross-checking the functionality. This process of elimination will lead you to a shortlist of suppliers and software solutions that are strong contenders for improving your practice operations. If one of the solutions doesn’t meet at least one of your knock-out criteria, discount it.

Making Your Decision

When it comes to choosing your accounting practice management software system, you should test the capabilities of any software against your wishes and requirements. So how should you approach this?

One structured way would be to use a scoring matrix. You could create a basic spreadsheet with your criteria (deal breakers as well as needs) and assess it against your shortlist of software features and functionalities.

You’d then assign a score to each software based on your needs. Some of these needs are likely more important than others. That’s why you’d apply a weighting factor from 1 to 5, with 1 being the least important and 5 being your highest priority. This approach will ensure that you’re being fair with every entry in your shortlist and won’t get distracted. 

So what do you have left? A range of scores against your shortlist of software, suppliers, and features. You should now have a clear winner and be ready to progress to implementation.

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