During the shutdown there was a surge of interest in updating or changing accounting software. We get it: there was just a bit more time to contemplate life and what tech would make it better.
However, new software is expensive and not just from the cash side. Many think about the cash cost of new software, but the real toll is in the time it takes to get new software up and running and effectively.
The secret of software implementation is that the problem is not fixed when you “go live.” Typically, companies don’t see the true fruits of their work until a year to 18 months after they start the process.
Yep, One Year. That can seem like a long journey to get the full benefit of new software when we live in a world of immediate gratification.
That’s why we’re fans of getting the most out of your current software. We always start with what you have because sometimes a simple fix gets you what you need. However, there are times when only new software will fix the problem.
Many contractors make the decision to invest in new software because they feel their business has outgrown what they currently use. Company size does play a part in the decision, but the underlying goal of choosing a software is usually to get better reporting to manage business performance.
A lot of contractors start with a general accounting software (like QuickBooks) because they are easy to use and have a low upfront cost. Most companies can use these products for several years until the hit a snag such as:
- They are not getting the reporting that they want.
- They are having some loss of data, phased out (old) software or security issues.
- They are not getting the features they need.
Not getting the data you want?
Not ALL data is the RIGHT data. Data for the sake of data doesn’t do you any good. Think of it as the minimum effective dose. We want data so that we can make the best job decisions, the best business decisions, and the best financial decisions but we don’t want mountains of it.
This need for the right data will sneak up on you and starts with comments like, “I really wish I could see the ………
- burdened up labor A.K.A. the true cost of my labor on my job report
- performance by PM or super
- performance by division
- how much I spend on company owned equipment…”
If you realize that you are hearing or making these types of comments, it could be time to invest in getting that data. These statements can be a trigger to start the process of updating your existing software, looking at add-ons, or demoing completely new software.
These right data needs can be captured in a wish list, which makes it easier and faster to determine the next steps. Understanding what you desire for “output” makes it easier to understand what you need to “input” into a software.
In our Build Your Own CFO training we have a 7-part series on construction accounting software. It includes:
- How to determine if you are ready for new software or how to re-invest in your current software
- Creating a wish list for your construction accounting software and examples
- Questions to ask prior to and during the software demo
- Expectations and timelines for new software
- FAQ on construction accounting software
To learn more about this platform and our other services, go here.
Is your software unstable, has security issues or phasing out?
Do you have issues losing data or not being able to back-up properly?
The loss of data usually corresponds to the size of your data base and limits on functionality due to the volume of data in the system. In a start-up accounting software, you can get to the point where there is so much data that the stability of the accounting software is affected.
Controlling who has access to data is also a good reason to consider software upgrades. You want to make sure that your software can block off certain sections while giving access to others.
For example, you may want to give project management access to job costs, but not access to payroll data. Or you’d like to give an accounts payable person access to enter invoices, but not set up vendors. Taking a step into a construction specific accounting software package can give you these features and more.
Some construction accounting software has a shelf-life. Technology is changing so fast and we are lucky to have all the options we have.
There are times that software vendors decide to start over on a database rather than continue to support the current setup. Understanding the support timeline on your software can help you determine when it is time to look for something new.
Additionally, the software that is being phased out could have an even better replacement, so it helps to shop around and know what your current vendor’s plans are.
Also, trending is the shift towards SAAS (software as a service) or cloud-based construction accounting software as opposed to the traditional software on an in-house server. The right cloud-based software can provide a heightened level of security, new features, and continuous access to updates and support. With redundant servers and access from anywhere, these cloud-based options are addressing updates, security, and mobility needs at the same time.
Do you wish you had the ability to……?
The best part of getting new accounting software is gaining access to the features that aren’t available in older packages. We are amazed at how far construction accounting software has come in the last 10 years. There are functions built into these software packages that save our clients HOURS of time each week and allow for a truly paperless process.
Even just a few years ago, multiple software platforms were needed to manage and provide information for the various areas of a construction company. Now we see construction accounting software that can provide everything from project management to mobile timekeeping and payroll processing, as well as inventory and equipment management.
These features can eliminate the need for multiple software packages daisy-chained together and provide a single platform to manage the business. This allows for one database so all departments (project management, estimating, accounting, etc.) can use the same data in different ways.
In our Build Your Own CFO training we have a list of commonly requested features so that you can create your own list of “must-haves” and then rank software companies based on your needs. The Build Your Own CFO training is everything you (or someone in your company) will need to become a construction CFO. Click here to learn more.
Construction-specific accounting software has come a long way in a short period of time. The features, security, and reporting you are looking for is available and affordable. The right data to the right people all while operating in an easy, secured, control environment allows for better business, financial, and job decisions.