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The low-down on the latest financial consolidation software options

It’s finally happening, your business venture is paying dividends and you’re expanding quickly. While success is sweet, dealing with the reality and complexity of multiple entities, cost centres or business units can soon sour the experience. Faced with having to manage the collation, consolidation and reporting of Statutory, Management accounts, Budgets and Forecasts, you need an effective financial consolidation software solution, and fast.

So how do you go about ensuring you hand pick the right solution and solution provider that best suits your growing operations? Based on our experience here are our top tips for ensuring you make the right choice.

1) Local is definitely lekker

While businesses often tend to opt for international technology and software brands, largely due to the success of brands like Google, IBM or Oracle, there are some definite benefits to purchasing a product locally.

Not only does the supplier understand the South African market but it takes the headache out of dealing with foreign currencies time zones. However it is from a development and support perspective that you stand to gain most. Here you can avoid an international queuing system making the development of additional functionality and problem resolution a cinch comparatively.

2) Landing your dream team

When it comes to financial consolidation software landing the right team with a solid foundation in accounting, business and systems will not only ensure you get quality advice, but they will pretty much get things right the first time as they will understand your exact needs and requirements.

Bringing up the organisation specific technical questions during the selection process will give you a clear understanding of the team’s accounting proficiency and experience.

3) Time is money

Avoid scope creep at all costs! Bottom line, the faster the implementation and training the more you stand to save in terms of time, resources and cost. There are a number of well established local companies with consolidation and financial reporting solutions that can be implemented within weeks.

Many software companies rely on additional out of scope charges derived from longer implementation projects. Requirement changes and reduced user input are some of the unwanted issues that cause scope creep and extend project time frames.

4) Implementation costs based on ‘Time &Material’ are a definite no-no

It’s really a no-brainer; companies that bill on a ‘Time & Material’ basis will naturally benefit more from lengthier implementations. Companies however who work on a ‘Fixed Cost’ project fee will ensure that they utilise their resources effectively and sparingly in order to complete the project on time and in scope.

5) Licensing Fees

Here ensure that license fees are fixed and not subject to currency fluctuations and ensure that the fees include maintenance and at least software updates. This allows cost control, flexibility and assurance that the software will at all times provide the functionality that has been promised.

6) The analogy of the self-maintainable tree

Imagine buying a tree from the nursery. Would you buy a tree that you were not able to plant, water or prune yourself? Add to this the fact that you will not be able to add additional plants or trees next to it or even fertilise the soil, it seems a rather ridiculous thing to do. Here you would be forced to hire the nursery staff at a specific rate per hour to perform all of these functions, I’m pretty sure you would no longer want to buy this particular tree.

In other words make sure you understand exactly how ‘self-maintainable’ the solution is. I’m sure you don’t want to be in a position where you have to contract consultants every time there is a change or scale-up in complexity, size or application.

At the end of the day all of the above considered, the fewer unanswered questions you have when you commence your consolidation project, the greater the odds that the overall solution will be a suitable fit for your organisation’s requirements. Remember it is ultimately the right combination of human skill and technology that will bring about success, so choose your solution provider carefully, as this is a business marriage!

Author: F.R. (Rhys) Robinson, Ph.D Executive Director: Strategic Partnerships & Marketing for Infinitus Reporting Solutions – Service providers of RollupSheet