Financial reporting and operations management can be the biggest challenge for many security companies, particularly smaller and mid-sized businesses. For a lot of companies, if there’s enough money in the checking account to make payroll, pay the bills and still have some left over, then it’s a good day.
A better approach would be to ask, “Is my company performing as well as it could be?” That can be tough for many business owners because it takes more than looking at the checking account for the answer. For example, if your company could make its billing and business operations more efficient, how might that affect your profitability and, by extension, your business in general?
Fortunately, there are accounting and business management software solutions available that can help streamline operations and make security companies more profitable. It’s just a matter of finding the right solution for you – which in a lot of cases is easier said than done. For starters, many people see change as difficult, even scary, which is understandable. But when it comes to solutions that can improve your business, change is actually a good thing. By embracing the right kind of change – informed change – you just might end up with something that’s going to make your company more efficient, which can translate into larger profits and better value for your company – and that’s a very good thing.
When evaluating a financial reporting and operations management software solution, there are a number of factors to consider. And while it’s tempting to dive into a review of the features and functionality of potential solutions, don’t do it. If you get caught up in that level of minutia from the start, you’ll quickly experience information overload. More likely than not the end result will be to throw up your hands and make no decision at all. Of course, that does nothing to help grow your profits and your business, so it’s important to start out thinking at a higher level about solutions. Features can wait.
With that in mind, here are the three most important things to look for when taking that all-important 30,000-foot approach to evaluating software solutions.
The Right Fit
Any time you’re researching and exploring your options for new software, you have to make sure it’s the right fit – not just the right software, but the right software company. You need to find a company that will offer the implementation, support and ongoing development of their software that you need. Is this the correct type of business and software for your company?
The question of fit also goes two ways, so you have to figure out if your company is the right fit for the software solution or provider. It might be great software but not designed for the specific needs and goals of your business.
In determining if the software and provider are right for your company, you have to take a hard look at the goals of your security company. Do you want to maintain your business or grow your business? If you plan to grow, is that growth going to be organic or through acquisition or through expanding into new markets? Does the software solution have the ability to work with you to meet those goals, whichever direction you choose? The requirements for maintaining your business are going to be much different than if you’re planning to double your business in the next three to five years.
Do What Works
The best way to determine if a solution is going to work for you is to ask someone who’s already using it. Because software can have such a profound impact on your business, you don’t want to be a pioneer and reinvent something that already exists – and is already working for others. Ask your peers what has worked for them, find out what software they’re using, what it allows them to do and mimic that. It’s likely that your business problems are not that different from your peers’, so if something works for them, there’s no reason it won’t work for you.
Additionally, you always want to choose a proven solution, preferably from a company with a proven track record of continually developing, innovating and reinventing their solution.
Planning for the Future
The third main consideration for choosing software is whether a solution can provide the data and information you need to operate and manage your company. In business, metrics are extremely important in order to evaluate, measure and score how your company is running. The best companies are making decisions in the board room, and they’re using data and metrics. Gut decisions are OK some of the time, but you need real, hard data to back them up.
This requires having easy access to the relevant data you need to make decisions today and what you’ll need to know in the future – in other words the information you don’t even know that you don’t know. Naturally, you know what you need today, but the more you learn and the more knowledge you acquire, the more you realize what you don’t know. At that point, you can start to ask better questions and realize that you need a better platform. Businesses grow based on knowledge of the information being generated.
Think of software as a highway, where there are a set number of lanes. If you buy a solution that gives you two lanes, which is what you need today, what happens two years down the road when you need four lanes? You’re going to hit a traffic jam that’s going to prevent you from doing as much business, processing enough orders or make fast decisions. To put it simply, you won’t be able to grow. The problem is that with a traffic jam, you know you’re not moving, while with bad systems, software and operations, you don’t know. It just happen but you don’t know why.
In determining if a software solution is right for you, these three points must supersede everything else. The unfortunate reality, however, is that nine times out of 10, decisions are made based on money; people fail to think about the big picture, so they tend to make bad decisions. In trying to save a nickel, you might actually be losing a dollar – and no company will be in business very long under those conditions.
Given its potential to improve your profitability and your company in general, accounting and business management software is an investment, not an expense. The right solution can provide you with the tools that will allow your team to do their jobs more efficiently, improve customer service and provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions for your business.
Remember: Finding the right solution means finding the solution that will be best for your company’s current situation and where you’d like to be in the future. The increased efficiency and good decisions you’ll be able to make will allow your company to generate better cash flow and profits, which increases the value for shareholders. In other words, the right software solution will help your company reach its goals.
So the most important question of all is: What are your company’s big-picture goals and how do you plan to achieve them?