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Seven signs you've outgrown your business accounting system

It may have been as long ago as 15 years. Or perhaps ten, or five. But at some point in the past, most likely when your business first set up operations, you invested in a business accounting software program. And what a wonderful piece of technology it was, allowing you to keep on top of all your business's financial operations.

But at some point, maybe only very recently, cracks began to appear. As your business grew, and as your needs became more complex, it began to feel like your system was struggling to keep up. While this may be a problem that can be worked out with some tweaking of your software, in all likelihood that is not the ideal solution. Maybe it's time to step up and step out of the accounting system you've got. Perhaps it's time to look at upgrading to an integrated business management software solution.

But how do you know when it's that time? There are a number of tell-tale signs that you've outgrown your finance and accounting software. Here are seven of them.

Your system is sluggish … or worse

The heavier the demands being placed on a software system, the slower it can become. If you're continually tapping your fingers on your desk waiting for information to be processed or reports to be generated, there's a good chance your data file size or the volume of your transactions is being stretched to the limit. And if your system occasionally freezes for no apparent reason, that's another sign.

Too much time re-entering data

If you're copying data between different systems to work out budgets, forecasts and cash flow, you're not using your time efficiently. You should only need to rely on one system to perform these tasks. While at an earlier stage of your business's evolution it might have made sense to have different systems taking care of different business units and functions, these days that's just a heavy drag on time and resources. And not only that, it's risky as re keying data increases the risk of user error.

Too many users

Many entry-level business accounting applications can only support a small number of users. If your system prevents multiple users from operating the system simultaneously, or if the burden of multiple users produces corrupt or frozen data, there's a strong argument for a technology upgrade.

Inadequate reporting

Sure, your financial system can store all sorts of information, but can it present what you need easily and in the right format? The template based reporting functionality of many business accounting programs are very limited. As a business grows the need emerges for sophisticated, comprehensive, customisable and easy to interpret reports to suit different business units and different purposes.

You have information but not insights

For any business to succeed in the long term, managers need to know what's working and what's not across all of an organisation's operations. If your current accounting system doesn't integrate with, say, your warehouse, inventory, CRM and other business functions, it's holding your business back. An integrated business management system will give you a much needed 360 degree view of your business while allowing you to perform the type of deep dives that can turn information into insights. These insights can then be leveraged to make well-informed decisions that will drive future growth.

Your system is the same one you had pre-expansion

Basic business accounting systems typically struggle to handle multiple locations. If your business has expanded into new locations (or is about to) your application may not be able to efficiently, accurately and securely manage data from remote offices.

You have to step outside your system to get things done

The typical business accounting system performs a set of core functions and not much else. As a business grows it may acquire several new applications to supplement the functions of the main accounting platform. If you frequently find yourself dipping into other systems to find out what you need to know, your time is not being put to its best use. The answer is a fully integrated business management system that manages data across multiple business activities.

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