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Budgeting Software That Fits

July 11, 2018
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The importance of having business accounting software that works the way your company does

Accounting software purveyor AccountMate Software uses the slogan “Software that Fits” to describe the essence of their products, namely, software that fits every company that licenses it, either straight out of the box or through customization of source code by their customers.In my readings on the Internet, I ran into a blog article whose author’s name escapes me but the main message was:“Make your business software your company’s software and not your company becoming someone else’s software.”The important message here is that whatever business software solution a company selects, it must fit their needs and conform to the way they conduct business—in operations, finance, HR and other key functions.  Changing the way you do business just to be able to use software (e.g., ERP, CPM, etc.) is a really bad idea and often results in too many compromises.There are hundreds of ERP and business accounting software solutions, many general purpose, some retail or wholesale specific, and some manufacturing specific.  And within manufacturing, some solutions are more conducive to batch manufacturing or to made-to order-type businesses, some are more job shop-oriented and so on.There are so many choices, and given the stakes—the resources involved plus the potential of living with a bad choice—companies should thoroughly investigate, evaluate and choose their solution carefully.  This is when a company can “becomes someone else’s software” as the quote mentioned above suggests.The ability to customize a software solution to a company’s needs is increasingly important as businesses in all industries strive to become more efficient and, hence, more competitive.There's a major difference between customizing software through easily available user settings, and modifying source code and using other higher-level customization tools, to create new functionality or change certain functions to capture transactions according to the way things are done in the company, without having to change processes just to be able to use all or parts of the software.In addition to its obvious applicability to ERP or accounting software, this concept applies as well to CRM (Customer Relations Management) and CPM (Corporate Performance Management) applications as well as other FP&A (Finance, Planning and Analysis) solutions.When using CPM or FP&A software, it is highly desirable that the implemented solution be tightly integrated with the ERP general ledger for better and quicker visibility into the company’s actual performance and integration of budget and forecast data into the operations, finance and strategic plan.And it's imperative that customization be performed internally—whether by users, administrators or IT—not by independent consultants or vendors. This isn't directed just to reducing the overall cost of the implementation but also to reducing the time and cost of producing additional changes, user-required reports and other modifications that'll be requested by users and managers once the software has been in use for a while.  Unfortunately, not all business software allows that.That's why I like the Maestro Suite, which includes Budget Maestro and Analytics Maestro, from Centage Corporation.  While the software is primarily designed for use by SMBs, it can nicely fit within the finance organization of larger companies.With the Centage solution, users and in-house administrators can customize the application to conform exactly to the way business is conducted.  The plan, including all modeling of revenue and costs, operating expenses, personnel and their related expenses and other areas in finance, can be customized without writing a single line of code, and the settings within the application don't require that traditional, spreadsheet-like formulas, functions, macros or links to other worksheets be entered by users anywhere in the program.Furthermore, users can analyze data, both actual and budgeted, without initiating custom report requests, thus creating a true self-serve system.All this, of course, results in tailoring an application such as Budget Maestro to the exact needs of the company and integrating it with the actual accounting GL while mirroring the GL structure in the budget application to create future-period forecasted financial statements.  This makes Centage’s Maestro Suite of applications true to the definition “Software that Fits.”

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