After meeting over 50 finance professionals and accountants last week, it remains absolutely clear to me that, the majority of people have no idea which rabbit hole of technology to go down to assess the best advisory tools.
So, I decided to write this post and create a poll.
I would like the customers to talk. Knowledge shared is extremely powerful and time saving for us all!
Having researched this space deeply I wanted to share these questions, which I ask when assessing a new “tool” for advisory services:
1) Content - Does it have 3-way financial statements (Income Statement, Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Statements for Historical and Forecast financial information). Most importantly does it contain a forecast balance sheet including forecast liabilities, working capital assets, capex and fixed assets etc.
2) Flexible - Is it adaptable to your (ie clients) specific business logic? In other words, are you able to customise it without much effort eg. If you want to change the revenue drivers is this easy to do?
3) Helps to make real business decisions and drive performance - Does it include rolling financials that can be compared to a budget? Can you run real live business scenarios and sensitivities easily?
4) Time saver - Will it save you time straight away? How much time and effort will it take to get setup? Is it going to make your monthly reporting process quicker and easier especially when the chart of account changes or you need to change the way the business calculates its revenue. Is there an API that can update the data live whenever you want?
5) Cost – Are you charged on a per staff user basis or on a per client basis. In other words, does it cost you more the more clients you have? Do your clients also must pay to use it
6) Training – what is the cost and quality of the training? Is it online and available for you to go at your own pace? Are there YouTube videos and similar content available for you to learn from.
7) Control – Does the system ensure you have accurate financial information always? Most importantly maintaining and ensuring your balance sheet always balances, particularly the forecasts balance sheet.
8) Ease of use – Can other people use it (not only the client themselves, perhaps a 3rd party e.g. a bank) without also having to purchase the license? Can you send it to someone to operate it easily including running scenarios or sensitivities?
9) Ease of integration – Does the tool integrate easily with any other system outputs like CSV, Excel files or similar data sources. Is it possible to structure the data coming from that source into multiple drivers eg some chart of accounts have only 1 revenue account, but multiple products at different prices? How easily can you forecast based on a driver for strategic planning for say new product lines or new business locations, or will this require additional configuration and most cost?