How to Buy Cloud Financials: Step 3 – Choose the Right System

This week we are walking through a five-step process on best practices for “How to Buy Cloud Financials.” Each post includes a new Intacct customer and partner video relevant to the topic, so you can also get some perspective from your peers. If you missed the previous posts, I encourage you to read Step #1 and Step #2 before moving on with this post. Today we will look at some tips to create a short list, and find out how to put prospective vendors (Intacct included) through their paces.

Step 3 – Choose the Right System
OK, so you’ve completed steps one and two. You’ve identified that it is time to make a change to a new system and you’ve analyzed what isn’t working and what you want your new system to help you improve. Now it is time to make that all-important decision. If you haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to consult a local expert to guide you through the choices. As I noted yesterday, this expertise is invaluable and can help you avoid common pitfalls during this crucial stage – ensuring that you end up with the best financial software for your organization, that you’ve thoroughly documented your needs, and that you’ll have no surprises.

While there are a myriad of potential new systems you could choose, you’ll want to whittle things down to a managable short list. You don’t have the time or resources to do a full review of hundreds of choices, so narrow your options to no more than five vendors (three is ideal). Your short list will be used to drive a detailed evaluation of the finalists. Even if you have already decided you want a cloud-based system, you might want to include one on-premises system as a benchmark.

Now is your chance to dig a little deeper. Attend some vendor webinars. View the online demos. Then ask each vendor for a personalized demo that closely matches the requirements you’ve defined in Step #2. Ask for customer references and published case studies. As with Step 2, you can also tap into your social network – including places like Facebook and Twitter – for additional references and independent opinions.

Ben Kepes from Diversity Limited, a consultancy specializing in Cloud Computing/SaaS and general business strategy, published a whitepaper in 2010 that is still very much relevant today looking at Ten Questions to Ask Your Cloud Vendor. I would encourage you to download a free copy and give it a read through. You might identify some additional questions to ask vendors on your short list that you hadn’t already thought about.

Before making a final decision on your new financial system, you should also identify how each system will work for you. Understand how you can customize each application to meet your specific needs. How will it integrate with the other key applications and databases you already have in place? Does that functionality already exist out of the box – or will it need to be custom-built? Understand if the vendor is trying to steer you into a one size fits all “suite” or if they will support your desire to have the best applications for each of your departments? There are a lot of trade-offs with selecting a suite, but we’ll save that topic for another day. 

For cloud vendors on your list, you will need to understand what Service Level Agreements they offer for things like availability, security, and reliability for those financial applications. For example, Intacct offers customers our Buy withConfidence™ guarantee. This outlines, with full transparency, the level of service you can expect from us.

The last step is to run your numbers. Comparing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of an on-premises system with a cloud-computing system isn’t necessarily apples-to-apples. [Download: Moving to the Cloud: Understanding the Total Cost of Ownership] Be sure to factor in the fully loaded costs of everything needed to support that piece of software (hardware, software, maintenance, security, back-up, IT, and so on). Then finalize the ROI model you started in the previous section.

In the following video, Intacct partners discuss how they work with prospects to select a new system and customers and several Intacct customers discuss their decision process and why they chose Intacct.

Can't view the video? Click here:

Sure, there is a self-serving aspect to some of this – after all, this is the Intacct blog. But the fact remains, when companies do their homework, an overwhelming number choose cloud computing and Intacct to transform their finance organizations into strategic, forward-thinking business leaders. More than 1,000 companies switched to Intacct in 2011, so we must be doing something right.

Now you are ready to move to Step #4, where we will look at what happens once you’ve made your choice and it’s time to deploy your new system.

Want to see Intacct in action? Watch one of our self-guided tours or register for a upcoming live web demonstration here:

Be sure to connect with Intacct on our Social Media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube!


Post a Comment