What do small and midsize businesses (SMBs) really want when it comes to their accounting software? Most are looking for advanced capabilities and visibility. Those are two key findings of a recent survey on accounting software buying trends conducted by Software Advice, a company that hosts research and reviews of accounting solutions software purchases.
That’s right in line with what we’ve been hearing through our work helping hundreds of companies improve their financial processes in the cloud. These forward-thinking SMBs recognize that they need accounting and financial systems that are robust enough to track key metrics, such as profitability, in real time, drill down into financial and operational data, and analyze it by different dimensions to make better, more informed business decisions. This insight allows them to determine when it is best to hire, raise capital, invest in R&D, etc.
I recently had an opportunity to interview Eileen O’Loughlin, Market Research Associate at Software Advice, about what she learned from the survey, its implications, and recommendations for SMBs:
FURTH: What are some of the key findings from your recent report on Small Business
(SMB) accounting trends?
O’LOUGHLIN: “Our of accounting software buyer trends revealed an interesting finding: over 50 percent of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are looking to replace their current accounting software for a system with more advanced capabilities. The main features these buyers are looking for include greater visibility with financial reporting, payroll and budgeting, and forecasting. The 36 percent of first-time buyers are looking to automate their core accounting processes and reduce the time spent on manual data entry.”
FURTH: What is driving SMBs to deploy more advanced accounting systems?
O’LOUGHLIN: “We found that SMBs have greater confidence in advanced systems that offer ease of access, better security, and improved ease of use, often found in cloud based systems. Also, having greater integration and add-on options allows users to extend the reach of their existing system and serve many industry-specific needs.
FURTH: What type of capabilities are they looking for?
O’LOUGHLIN: “The respondents to the survey were overwhelmingly seeking financial reporting functionality (82 percent). The top accounting capabilities requested by SMBs in our sample include:
- Financial reporting
- Billing and invoicing
- Payroll and HR
- Budgeting and forecasting”
FURTH: What are your recommendations for SMB selecting software in 2017?
O’LOUGHLIN: “I recommend that software buyers assess needs and determine “must-have” features, consider software cost, create a short list of solutions, and set up product demos with vendors. If needed, confer with a technology consultant to make sure you’re on track before making a significant investment. Be sure to consult product reviews from current users, and if possible, speak with peers to find out what benefits and challenges they have experienced with systems. Most importantly, make sure the proper integrations are available, and you have a plan for implementation. If SMBs do this, they’ll be well on your way to .”
It’s good news that the majority of SMBs are looking for advanced capabilities and visibility to keep their fingers on the pulse of their businesses. It’s important, though, for SMBs to put this accounting infrastructure in place as soon as possible. That way they can accurately monitor their business in real time, identify business obstacles and opportunities, and move on a dime as conditions change. Having a complete, accurate view of finance and operations will provide an invaluable competitive advantage, enabling them to drive smart business growth.
There’s a lot of criteria to consider when selecting cloud-based software. Click here to receive our free e-book, The SMB Guide to the Galaxy, which discusses three common cloud complications and 10 easy steps for choosing the right cloud application.
David Furth is president and co-founder of Leap the Pond, a leading provider of Intacct based accounting solutions for growing organizations. He has spent the majority of his career working at the intersection of technology and business. Contact David Furth at email@example.com or 1 (203) 361-9200. http://leapthepond.com/ -- or join the conversation on Twitter or LinkedIn.