Effective and reliable finance software can unlock a range of valuable benefits for businesses, such as:
- Automation of routine tasks, which increases speed, reduces human error and frees up staff to focus on other jobs
- Efficient management of payments to vendors and creditors, lowering the risk of late fees
- Timely distribution and tracking of invoices, increasing the chances that you’ll be paid in full and on time
- Compliance with changing rules and regulations
However, you're unlikely to get maximum benefit from your corporate finance applications if you choose a package that isn't the right fit for your business.
Being aware of common pitfalls and warning signs can help you make a decision on the best software option for your organization.
1. The software doesn't meet your biggest needs
It's important to go into this process with a clear idea of the problems you want to solve and the key needs you want the technology to address. This will help you identify the vital features your software needs to have, which will make it easier to narrow down your list of available options and come to a decision.
Thinking about what currently isn't working in the company's finance function or areas where you have the biggest scope for improvement can be a good starting point. If you've had tax compliance problems in the past, for example, you might want to look for a system that has a good record for generating reports that will show how much tax you've paid over a particular time period.
Similarly, if you've run into problems when remote teams haven't been able to access crucial information at short notice, you could benefit from choosing cloud-based software that offers easy but secure access from anywhere.
As well as making sure your chosen system offers the features you really need, it's important to be sure that you're not paying a premium for high-end functions or added extras that you don't require.
2. Failing to research and compare
Procuring a new product or service for your business shares some similarities with significant consumer purchases, one of which is that there's a lot to be gained from doing extensive research and comparing your different options before making a final decision.
Give yourself time to carry out a thorough inspection of the different types of corporate finance software currently available. It can also be useful to sort products into different categories, based on criteria such as:
- Specialist applications
- Whether they're industry-focused or designed for general use
Taking a structured, well-organized approach will help you create a detailed picture of the various choices available to you. Categorizing your options can also make it easier to filter out those that clearly aren't suitable to your business or well-tailored to your needs.
Another important part of the research process is reading reviews and testimonials from previous users, which can prove particularly useful if you want to learn more about factors like customer support. Research has shown that 84% of people place as much faith in online reviews as they do in personal recommendations.
Ultimately, doing your research and comparing different types of software reduces your risk of investing in a product that fails to deliver the results you're looking for.
3. Unnecessary change
If you're looking into software options to improve specific aspects of your finance operation, make sure you stay focused on those areas that require attention and don't be tempted into making changes in areas where they're not needed.
You're likely to come across lots of exciting-looking tools and technologies that promise to revolutionize all of your processes from end to end, but this could prove to be an expensive approach that causes a lot of disruption for relatively little benefit.
One of the best things you can do to identify the finance tools or technologies that really need to change is to engage with your team and invite feedback on what works well and what doesn't. People who rely on certain systems every day won't hesitate to tell you where they can be improved, which will provide useful guidance in your search for the right software.
4. Rushing into a decision
There are many examples of times when rushing into a significant business decision can be a very dangerous move. You should always give yourself time to take all relevant factors into account and assess a range of stakeholder opinions on whether a particular investment or strategy is right for the company.
This is particularly important when you're selecting a new piece of finance software, since hurrying the process and making the wrong call could have serious consequences for the business, such as falling behind with debt repayments or mismanaging your tax affairs.
If you find that you're rushing and feeling pressured into making a decision on what software to go with, take it as a warning sign that you need to slow down and look at the situation from a fresh perspective. This could be exactly what's needed to make sure you reach the right decision.