What Are Your Options?
Moving from QuickBooks into a mid-market accounting and financial management software program historically was a difficult jump for start-up, small and mid-sized companies because of the huge up-front cost and the risk of failure.
This fear continues to be a factor as growing companies cling to their QuickBooks system long after it has outlived its usefulness. Companies patch together a system with QuickBooks, spreadsheets and after-market software pieces to keep their financial systems operating, but often at the cost of extra labor, lack of compliance, risk, poor functionality, and the inability to produce the management reports that executives, boards, and investors want to see.
That leaves you with the question: What are your options when you are ready to graduate from QuickBooks?
Traditional On-Premises Solution
The long-time option of upgrading to mid-market financial software such as Microsoft Dynamics or Sage is still a consideration. These software packages offer a greater degree of functionality than QuickBooks and set up your company for future growth.
However, there are considerable drawbacks to making the plunge into an on-premises solution. First is the large up-front cost of the system licenses, then the capital cost for the hardware, the professional services costs needed to install servers and databases, and finally the IT staff for managed services to monitor and maintain the day-to-day operations of the systems. Second is the lag time in getting a system in place – which means several months of disruptions, planning, installation, and training, at best. Often, getting the system running to meet your needs can take longer and costs continue to balloon as you discover the systems may require customizations to meet your needs. Finally, they don’t have the reporting capabilities that other modern day systems have.
Once the system is up and running, you have the continued cost of maintaining your hardware and ensuring it can grow as your business grows. Additional Microsoft and Sage typically offer new updates every 18 or more months so you find that functional enhancements are lacking over time and you are falling behind your competition. Then, you also have the ongoing challenge of getting your VAR to implement the updates which can be at a substantial fee to you.
The final drawback we will address here is the need for your staff to access the system from home, new office locations, and other remote locations thus creating an additional expense of adding solutions such as Citrix for remote access.
Hosted in the Cloud
Many of these traditional on-premises providers now are seeking to address some of these issues by offering their software suites hosted in the cloud, which reduces your up-front cost and switches the hosting to a subscription model. However, it is still an on-premises solution that requires managed services to maintain the application as well as your VAR or another party to install the upgrades when they are available.
While this is an advantage over traditional on-premises, it still leaves you dealing with a suite of software that may not completely meet your needs. Or it ties you to extra packages that are not needed or not the best fit for your company. For instance, even if the accounting function fits perfectly for your company, the CRM modules may not be adequate for your sales and marketing efforts.
The fourth, more affordable option is a best-of-breed approach of subscribing to a true SaaS solution for an accounting program such as Intacct that can be integrated with other software to meet the needs of your company across the board.
A true SaaS solution allows you to eliminate up-front cost as you pay a monthly subscription fee, giving you a fixed run rate expense that is much more manageable for small to mid-sized companies. You also subscribe only for the services you need, not for services your suite provider bundles with its package. It also eliminates the need for your company to provide managed services as all that is handled by the software provider under your monthly subscription. Additionally, SaaS providers typically provide functional upgrades much more often than on-premises providers. For example, Intacct provides 4 releases per year, and the upgrades are installed automatically so you have no expense, downtime or risk.
SaaS solutions also offer the advantage of being available anywhere at any time from an internet connection. This is a huge advantage for a company with multiple locations or remote or mobile employees who can access the system whenever they need it.
SaaS solutions also offer extreme security, normally better security than an on-premises system, as their entire business is based on keeping all their customers’ data secure.
Finally, SaaS solutions offer the scalability and quick innovation your company needs to meet your growing demands. Because the SaaS provider is focused on one function, they are able to provide the best and most up-to-date service for that function. For instance, an upgrade in your accounting software doesn’t need to wait for an upgrade to CRM as a traditional suite would. Nor does the best-of-breed provider have internal debates on which module R&D expenditure should be focused on.
In the final part of this series, we’ll look at what you need to do to prepare for a transfer from QuickBooks to a SaaS solution for your financial management.
When you are ready to make the move, contact us for a partner who can make your transition smooth and cost effective.