How to make the right choice when switching from Excel to automated financial consolidation software?

By Laura Jasenaite on 2018-02-27

As companies grow and become groups, accounting consolidation becomes increasingly intricate. What was once working fine in Excel, can become slow and cumbersome. Worksheets begin to show signs of broken links, reports become frustratingly inaccurate and it becomes clear that moving away from Excel would become a time-saving exercise and led to higher efficiency, speed, and accuracy.

Financial Consolidation Software – Where do you start?
Many CFO’s dread the day this happens. Choosing financial consolidation software is no easy feat, and is certainly not a task that can be taken lightly. Every aspect needs to be considered, making the wrong choice could be a very costly and time-consuming exercise.
When embarking on the journey to choose the next software after Excel, it’s important to start off armed with as much information as possible and also make sure you do not make the process untenable. You may be tempted to look at every solution out there. Resist the temptation! You do not want to expand your research to 10 or 20 software packages because that’s too many packages to look at in depth.
The journey is challenging but keep these tips in mind to maximise the time and effort you put into making your choice. Your group or partnership can make the right choice without looking at every option on the market.

Choosing your financial consolidation software

1. Decide how many software packages you want to look at.
Try to keep this to 6 or fewer. You will, of course, need some criteria to choose the first run of packages so make sure you create a checklist to quickly help you rule out the ones that are definitely a no-go. For example: if your security policies will not allow you to use cloud software, add this to your checklist. Start off by looking at this article.

2. Decide which standard financial consolidation software features you need.
List your non-negotiables. These are basic features that every group needs and you are likely to find them in most software packages out there. Being clear on these will help you rule out the ones that are not a great match right from the start.

3. Decide on your financial consolidation software requirements.
Ask yourself or your team:
- Which processes need to be faster and/or easier?
- Which part of the manually inputted data needs to be double-checked?
- What kind of reports would be ideal to have?
- At which stage of the process do the reports need to be available?
- How will the group’s needs develop in the future?

4. What kind of after-sales support will we require for the software?     
Ask yourself or your team:
- Can one of our internal teams take care of it?
- Will our team require extensive training to do this? 
- Would a DIY portal or call centre support suffice?         
- Will we require our supplier to provide professional on-site help?

Once you have looked at the various options you can begin to demo the products and learn about how the software can fit within your workflow and enhance it without causing too much disruption.

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