Your 2018 budget is set and this is the year that you need new accounting software. New cloud-based accounting software means a real-time overview of your financial posture, access to your data from multiple locations, greater communication between departments and vendors, and so much more. However, implementing an accounting software search is no easy feat. Don’t let the overwhelming criteria selection process take over your life. Five fundamental best practices for a smoother search are:

1. Understand and Prioritize Your Requirements

One of the best pieces of advice we can give is don't be so concerned about the "what" but instead be concerned about "how". This can be applied by taking the time understand all aspects of your requirements. If you are simply running down a checklist, it is easier for software providers to say yes to almost everything as they may be able to meet the requirement but not necessarily understand how you'll use the product. This is our basis for why it is essential to see your use cases in action. Sometimes the wow is in seeing how. 

2. Articulate the Why

This might be a qualitative or quantitative analysis of your search parameters, or maybe it’s a more formal business case that needs to be approved by your executive team. Regardless of the format, knowing the specifics on how this is going to improve your accounting department is essential to setting expectations or securing the funds to move forward. Be ready to communicate your specific value proposition. One great tool is to utilize the SMART :

  1. Specific: Target a specific goal or define an area that needs improvement.
  2. Measurable: How will you know if your efforts are successful? Set benchmarks and metrics for success.
  3. Achievable: Define if this project is achievable given historical analysis on several key factors, such as industry, local requirements, 3r party applications, etc.…
  4. Realistic: State if the intended results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  5. Time-Related: Outline a timeframe for when the desired results can be achieved.
3. Gain Buy-In

If you found the perfect solution tomorrow are you prepared to close the deal? What does your internal approval process look like? Do you have all the necessary parties involved in the process, and are they up-to-speed on the requirements? Depending on the size of your organization, you might find it helpful to keep interested parties in the loop when you narrow your selection down from five solutions to two quality options.

4. Be Open-Minded

Too often people think that they know what solution that they’d like in place before digging into the details. Go into your search with an open mind and consider all possibilities. At the end of the day you might find a solution that surprises you.

5. Consider the Company You’re Keeping

Get a read for the personality or culture of the company during the sales process. Consider their tactics and approach. If you are working with a re-seller or implementation partner, understand their DNA as well. Are the people you are working with good listeners? Are they responsive to your requests? Are they treating you like a partner? Are they being respectful and transparent? Keep in mind, you will likely be in this relationship for many years to come. The key point to remember here is that you are buying software, and no software product is perfect. Therefore, you need to know that there is a great company with great people supporting the product.

This content was originally posted here.