Consulting Services Choosing Software—How to Narrow Down the Options
by J. Christian Weydert 
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Choosing software in today’s digital world can be a daunting task. Software is a long-term investment, so it’s important to approach the procurement process with a clear vision of what your organization is trying to achieve in the long term. Focus your energy on systems that can truly meet your organization’s needs—not only now but also into the future. 

Building the vision

Before you embark upon a software search, make sure you have a vision of what the software should do for your organization.

  1. Establish system needs based on outcomes, not functional requirements. Instead of seeking software to solve a single, targeted problem, approach the decision process from a long-term perspective. Can the software scale with your organization and provide additional functionality as needed?
  2. Look for vendors that understand your business needs on a larger scale. Custom-built software may seem like a great route at first, but will it remain current as your business grows? Look for software that will continuously develop features for businesses like yours—without your organization financing that development.
  3. Assess day-to-day performance as well as crisis situations. Consider tricky exceptions to your everyday business functions. Can the software keep up with difficult transactions and adapt when you need it?
  4. Read the reviews. The provider should focus on long-term success and customer support. G2.com and TrustRadius.com are two sites that have peer reviews. These resources help prospects understand both system functionality as well as user acceptance.

Choosing the right deployment model

Choosing the right software model is an important step to consider when you begin assessing options. Three basic system models to consider are on-premise, hosted, and cloud. The on-premise software model is typically downloaded and fully managed by your team. Hosted solutions are hosted online by a vendor, although your organization owns the software that they host. This type of model is a hybrid that allows you to rent infrastructure and hardware while owning a software license.

Cloud solutions, often referred to as Software as a Service (SaaS), are hosted and managed online by the vendor. Your organization rents everything based on term subscriptions and simply configures it to suit your needs. Cloud options have the most robust support, and the provider covers all relevant upgrades, maintenance, and security.

When choosing a deployment model, you should consider your company size, needs, data requirements, and growth potential. Often times, an on-premise solution is implemented when a company is very small and has little to manage. However, needs change as a company grows. If your organization is already experiencing growing pains with existing on-premise software, you may need a more robust system that can scale with you and easily integrate with other software providers.

On-premise

Hosted

Cloud

Software is downloaded, stored and managed on your premises. This requires IT, maintenance, and your own methods of storing, backing up, and securing your data.

Software is hosted on a vendor site that supplies hardware and infrastructure for your purchased and licensed software. Hosted solutions are based on a single-tenant structure, where system customizations are unique for your purchased software and require your individual investment for the customizations.

Software is hosted on a vendor site that supplies hardware, infrastructure, and subscription-based software usage. This model is a multi-tenant structure, where system security, updates, maintenance, and new cutting-edge system capabilities are launched for all users to configure to their liking and are included in the subscription cost.

Related Article: Enhancing Your Agility with a Best-in-Class Cloud Strategy

A case for cloud software

One of the major benefits of true, born-in-the-cloud solutions is that they were designed specifically for a web environment. This kind of software allows you to access data easily from multiple devices and multiple operating systems. Cloud technology is an investment that paves the way for teams to remain competitive in an always-changing business landscape.

Accessibility is a key benefit of moving to the cloud. Cloud software plays a pivotal role in today’s remote and hybrid work arrangements. Using only a standard, secure web browser and an internet connection, your team can collaborate without the need for extra hardware, software, IT support, or a VPN connection. The user interface was built for remote work so that if you have internet, you will be able to access your data, accounts, modules, reports, and KPIs, regardless of your device, operating system, or internet provider. And, better yet, you continue to get automatic updates and necessary system maintenance.

Case Study: Best-in-Class Accounting Software: Taking a Client’s Business to the Next Level

Non-negotiables in cloud tech

For companies who are experiencing growth and the need for a robust, cloud-based system, there are a number of things that you should consider high-priority. A quick list below details factors that P&N considered when selecting to partner with Sage Intacct as a financial management system option for our clients. These items are critical when assessing cloud software:

  1. Uptime. Will you be able to access the system whenever you need it? Does the software have a history of maintaining a high uptime? Look for as close to 24/7/365 as possible.
  2. Disaster recovery. Is there geographic redundancy, with data back-ups maintained at various off-site devices? Is there a guaranteed timeframe for you to be back up and running with limited data loss (in hours) should a disaster occur?
  3. Data ownership. Does the software provider state in writing that your data is yours to take with you in the event that you change providers in the future?
  4. Support. Is there a key person who will have a business relationship with you and be your go-to for any system issues?
  5. Communication. Will the vendor keep you informed on system changes, updates, and maintenance, and keep you well-informed with new product releases?

We can help

P&N’s software selection team has more than 15 years of experience implementing cloud accounting solutions for businesses of all sizes. Contact us to learn more about best-in-class financial management software, such as Sage Intacct, that can help your company become more agile.

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