VISUAL NEWSLETTER JAN 2003


 

TOO SLOW

TOO EXPENSIVE

TOO COMPLICATED

WINDOWS BASED ACCOUNTING

 

These are the most common complaints levied against many of the new Windows based Accounting Systems. As is often the case, it is difficult to find a client that has converted to a new Windows based system that is truly happy with the results of the conversion. The reasons for this are varied and in time many of them may be resolved by the better software consulting companies. However, due to the current over saturation of Accounting Software Vendors, many may not exist long enough to correct their inherent shortcomings. It is interesting to explore the reasons that these new technologies struggle.

 

For many potential clients their first exposure to new software is in the form of a sales demonstration. Typically this demonstration is done on the latest state of the art standalone computer operated by sales people who have fine tuned their presentation to make the product look good. When you install the product you must contend with older model computers and various networking issues that often render the program much slower than it appeared in the product demonstration.

 

Sales people also tend to know many of the weaknesses of their software and stay away from the slower and more cumbersome procedures. If these are programs that you use on a daily basis you may get a rude awakening to their notable inefficiency.

 

We have seen some instances where a new program requires considerably more time to enter data such as customer orders. If you have several data entry personnel, this may in fact require that you hire another person just to keep up with data entry demands. These are limitations that good programmers may in time overcome but there is often no good solution to a very badly designed program.

 

We also find that many systems operate at a much faster rate of speed with a database of say fifty customers than one with fifty thousand customers. It is often difficult to predict the speed of operation in a specific environment until it is fully installed and all the initial data and history is loaded.

 

As noted in previous newsletters, another drawback of most current systems is that they are extremely expensive. Many new systems carry price tags in the $50,000 to $100,000 range. We are assisting clients in a couple of conversions costing well into the millions. This is due largely to the complexity and increased cost of Windows based R&D. Unlike products such as Microsoft Office which sells in the tens of millions, most Accounting Software firms number their clients in the hundreds or if lucky thousands. R&D costs have to be spread over a much smaller customer base. This increase in R&D costs also means that any customization that you require will also be much more time consuming and expensive. In one instance, I have quoted $1,500 Canadian to do a series of modifications that were in turn quoted at $30,000 U.S. in a new system. Costs can in fact lead to the failure of a system as users do not devote sufficient budgets to training of staff and ultimately system operation suffers.

 

In an attempt to be all things to a wide group of clients, many software vendors have built in so many features, options and switches that it becomes very difficult for any but the best trained and highly technically inclined to operate some of the newer systems. This in turn often precipitates a turn over in staff as some older employees struggle to pick up the more complicated daily operations of the new system. A good Systems Integrator can help smooth out some of the complexity and make sure that your staff has all the training it needs to succeed with any new system.