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Accounting Packages

Dear Dave
Our firm is in the process of conducting a review of specialized accounting and project management software packages written expressly for use by engineering and architectural firms. We hope to replace the generic accounting package we’ve been using for years. Our current software does not allow us to do any kind of project level cost tracking or analysis. We have narrowed the search to three, but we are having a hard time making the final selection. Can you help?

Dear JM
I’m sure each of the vendors you are working with would vehemently disagree with me, but when you come right down to it, the major packages available today are basically all pretty similar in features and functions. I have many clients successfully using each of these packages. To be sure there are some differences in look and feel between available brands but, in the final analysis, it would be hard to make a truly bad selection based on capability.

Here’s what does make a difference—vendor training and support. In addition to being a significant investment, these are complex programs that require expert guidance and support before, during and after installation for best results. In fact, I suggest that you budget to spend half again as much as the initial cost to purchase the software in vendor services to get your new package and your staff fully up and running. Scrutinize carefully the service and training options offered for each of the packages you are considering. Are support, training and assistance available locally, or will you need to rely mostly on the phone and or Internet? What types of specialized training classes are available, and where and how often are they offered? Is there an active local user’s group you could join? User’s groups are an important ongoing resource for mutual, shared support between area firms using the same software package.

So look at features and functions, but give strong consideration to training and support before making your final selection.

Wahby and Associates