To My Fellow Accountants and Finance Heads, It’s Time to Catch up with Software Led Innovation and Cloud Solutions (Part 1)

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Adopting Cloud Solutions

As a Canadian Chartered Accountant turned startup business development executive, I’ve had the pleasure (and challenge) of being on the other side of the table in pitching the value proposition and benefits Procurify can provide to finance departments and entire organizations.

By now, the idea of adopting solutions on the cloud with disruptive pricing models has started to penetrate many finance department heads and those looking to rise in the ranks. This is particularly true in the small to medium size business space (SMBS or SMES)

With the widespread adoption of smartphones and tablets in the workplace, and plunging costs for startups, the innovation that is happening in software today creates exciting opportunities for businesses to experience rapid productivity gains and cost effective process improvements.

This is further enhanced by the fact that since the mid 2000’s, concerns around security, setup, data migration and integrity have greatly subsided due to the work of pioneers in the cloud technology B2B space. Flipping on the switch in using software on the cloud (requiring an internet connection) will just be like switching on a lightbulb that uses electricity (requiring a connection to an electric grid)

However, although the technology and related benefits have come along way, when it comes to purchasing preferences and biases, it has been my experience that some in finance are still clinging onto traditional viewpoints found when purchasing traditional software solutions (You know, for example, complicated ERP and accounting systems that involve big budgets and implementations that never go right!).

>>For more on accounting and procurement: Top 4 reasons why accountants should care about “boring” purchase order processes

To add, these negative experiences still exist when adopting older “cloud” solutions that are just traditional, hard to use systems plastered onto a website.

But things have changed in the last few years!

One of these old viewpoints I call vendor lock-in bias or “putting all your eggs in one basket with one software vendor and one implementation team.”

What does this look like in the small to medium size business space, something I’ve personally seen first hand many times?

  • Picking one single ERP or accounting suite to provide a gazillion functions for your finance department, because sticking with one is easier and down the road, you may need other functions (ie. purchasing, inventory tracking,  expense forms, requisitions, supply chain, order tracking) and get sold on the upsell

  • Paying a very expensive upfront user licence cost and utilizing an implementation partner for a very large implementation with many hours instead of just sticking to core immediate needs

  • Neglecting the viewpoints of other departments whose involvement in improving business processes requires access to some of these functions (and more user licenses) or they will stick with their excel sheets and emails

  • Increasing risk of software implementation failure and resulting in blown budgets and internal squabbling

I’ve been surprised how common this bias is, and it perhaps speaks to the very conservative nature of some in finance. This bias also likely made sense in a different era of traditional complicated software adoption, and it still might make sense for mission critical core processes in enterprises and very large organizations!

However, recent changes in technology and the emergence of the next generation of cloud solutions in the B2B space has created a new possibility for controllers, CFO’s and business owners alike to break vendor lock in bias!

The Open API Economy

In a nutshell, imagine improving productivity through software selection is like baking a pizza. Perhaps the dough is a core accounting solution, the pepperoni is your inventory tracking, the mushrooms are your purchase order management and the pineapple is your budgeting tool. Imagine these ingredients are purchased from different stores that specialize in selling the best quality! Now, this may be a pain to do actually do when baking a pizza!

However, what happens if finance and other departments can work together to pick the best software solution for their own needs and to better the organization as a whole? That outside some smart tactical planning for setup, picking and using these solutions is as easy as flicking on a switch? Furthermore, these solutions can talk to each other and integrate with one click?

Welcome to the new world of integration created by the next generation of cloud solutions! These tools are designed with clear simple integration instructions so that software vendors can build rapid integrations with each other. That means, finance can use one solution, and purchasing/operations can use a complementary solution that they like, without fear of things like double entries and data fragmentation.

Finance likes their functions, and other departments like software that make it easy for end users to be more productive. These solutions can talk to each other today more easily than ever!

The open “Application programming interface” makes the idea of shopping and using software like going to the grocery store more easy than ever, and gives the freedom and flexibility for finance heads to get creative with how they can improve back end processes across an entire organization!

So, next time you’re looking to improve something like purchasing or accounting or invoicing, now you know some of the old issues and concerns with respect to software selection are no longer relevant! Welcome to the new world, my fellow accountants.

 

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About Author

Herman Chandi

Herman Chandi is a CPA, CA and has worked at accounting firms providing audit and consulting services to small and medium sized businesses. Herman also has executive experience in non-profits and is a big believer in cloud technology bringing rapid productivity improvements to organizations of all sizes.

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