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Which is the Best Accounting Software?

Published on

February 14, 2019

Juston Michealson

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​I am certain that you are not looking for the answer: “It depends”. But in fact, it does depend on these factors:

Do you prefer browser-based software or Windows-based software?

  • Really the question here is how available do you want your application? Sage100 is the gold standard for accounting software and is a Windows-based product. This means you will always access Sage100 as an application on your computer. Acumatica, on the other hand, is browser-based and you will always access it through a web browser such as MS Explorer or Chrome. The clear benefit to browser-based is that you will have access to your accounting software if you are travelling or away from the office as the only requirement is access to the internet and a web browser.

Do you want a perpetual license or a subscription model?

  • This question will be less relevant in the next 5 years as all software publishers are moving to a subscription model. The difference used to be that a Perpetual License purchase was a large one-time investment with very low ongoing maintenance fees, typically due annually. This was the standard license for Sage100 and it makes a lot of sense. The software didn’t get many ongoing updates and the maintenance fee was low and covered small changes and support. However, even Sage100 is moving their licensing (if not their technology) to a subscription model. In fact, most accounting software purchased in the year 2019 and on will be a subscription model with higher ongoing payments. Acumatica, being a browser-based application, is a subscription license because they are constantly updating their product, providing new integration capabilities, and ensuring 99.999% uptime across all their customers.

Do you prefer cutting edge, state of the art or “tried and true”?

  • Some businesses and customers only need the accounting essentials. They will never need to access their information outside of their office. They will be comfortable with older reporting capabilities and limited data visibility. For them, they will be comfortable with the look and feel of Sage100. For others, they want to see their business performance across dashboards with drill-down capability. They want fast navigation through the system and a modern UI that most expect from business software today. This is what our Acumatica customers experience.

Do you want your data stored locally or in the cloud?

  • This is becoming less of an issue for most businesses as online banking, online customer data, and other cloud-based storage has become a standard across most industries. Some businesses absolutely need to store their data locally for compliance reasons. All of the businesses we talk to are delighted to know they have an option beyond Sage100 for local storage in Acumatica. Because Acumatica has a unique licensing structure, you can store your data locally or in a public cloud and can switch whenever your business needs dictate.

Do you want to minimize the number of separate applications or is “best of breed” approach acceptable?

  • The modern approach will be to limit the number of applications to as few as possible for cost and complexity reasons. For businesses that have industry-specific applications they need, we recommend a core accounting software that is built for integrations such as Acumatica. The main difference between a legacy accounting software like Sage100 and Acumatica will be the core architecture of the software. Without getting into speeds and feeds, Acumatica was built with the intention of integrating with best of breed vs traditional accounting software publisher tactics of purchasing applications and forcing them into licensed bundles.

Do you require customizations for unique business processes?

  • If you require customizations you should consider an accounting software with open development options and look for expertise that can help bring your processes into the system. Sage100 has limitations here by the nature of their older architecture whereas Acumatica has customizable workflows available out of the box and their open architecture makes more extensive customizations an easy option.

Do you have other applications that will require integration?

  • As we spoke briefly about in #5 above, if you do have applications you know you won’t be able to bring into a new software then you need an accounting solution that can integrate. We need to be careful with our words here because some legacy applications offer “integration” that is just an interface. The difference for you the business user is that an integration is a true connection that allows for live data transfer with no manual steps to connect. An interface is one application dumping a data file and the other picking that up and will require multiple data masters and maintenance.

While I cannot speak to every accounting software product on the market, I can share how two products line up against these questions: Sage 100 and Acumatica. CS3 Technology has represented the Sage product lines for over 20 years. We are a huge fan of their legacy products that have the depth of functionality and minimal technical issues. Several years ago we added Acumatica ERP to our portfolio of products as we saw Sage 100 aging. We vetted all the browser-based products and Acumatica became the clear winner as a full ERP solution built for the cloud. This is a key distinction to make as the market is flooded with legacy applications that claim cloud function because they access the internet and say they can be deployed in a browser when it’s a display that suffers performance issues due to format and data access issues. Both of these solutions reign in their respective corners and as we enter into a more cloud-native business environment it is important to consider what technology will grow with your business.

The bottom line is that each business we’ve worked with is unique and their needs for an accounting software are as well. If you are looking to make a change, consider the above questions carefully and don’t try and rush your decision. We get clients from time to time that were sold an “easy” implementation with a partner that did not take the time to understand their business and the result was an out of the box solution that didn’t match where it mattered. This leads to long, costly implementations full of change orders and a go-live date that always seems a month away.

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