Moving Your Accounting System to the Cloud

When your accounting system is hosted on a local server in your office building, the data is readily accessible.
There are few restrictions on importing and exporting segments of data upon need. Both access time and speed are
relatively reasonable.

When you shift your accounting system to the cloud, especially in a co-hosted environment, restrictions are set for both time and speed of accessibility. Store on the “cloud”, your data access is only as fast as the bandwith of your internet connection. Many accounting system hosts are restrictive on allowing you to front load a lot of historical data to their system, even though it is your own private installation. Co-hosting, after all, means you are sharing the server, even though a separate partition, with other businesses. This takes a toll on the pipeline to the co-hosted server.

Some cloud-based accounting systems have awkward data record layouts and don’t want to be taxed into figuring out how to convert your older, historical sales, purchases and financial information into their layouts. It’s not just their fear of scaring you about the costs to do so, but that it ties up their time in doing these conversions. They want cookie cutter operations. They want the majority of their clients to conform to their off-the-shelf programming. It’s easier to support and when updates are made available it can be deployed to many clients with less hassle.

The above is not to discourage you to consider moving your accounting system to the cloud but rather to be aware of all issues related to the move. If you need someone to help you navigate this transition, give us a call. We only have more than 35 years experience with business accounting systems.

Give us a call at 773-502-5771 or email us at as a step in the right direction to overcoming concerns you have in your undertaking.

Thinking of Using NetSuite?

Are you seriously considering making a commitment to using NetSuite ERP System (an Oracle product)? If so, contact us and get our advice on what to expect in the transitional course.

We’ve assisted others in moving from one accounting software to NetSuite. We know the pleasant surprises as well as pitfalls. Our thirty-five years of business accounting systems consulting will help you zoom in on the specifics of what to expect and how to get NetSuite personnel to address them sooner than later.

We are not a paid affiliate of NetSuite nor any other accounting software provider.

Give us a call at 773-502-5771 or email us at as a step in the right directions to overcoming concerns you have in your undertaking.

The Politics of Software Migration

What part of your business drives the need to switch software? If you are a manufacturer, probably a better bills of material, materials planning system. If a distributor, probably better order processing and inventory replenishment linkage. If ecommerce, probably software that offers an improved customer experience with data access.

Reality strikes when during the process of choosing new software you find that other departments object to features that are not how they want it to be even though they are a secondary need. In other words, those pushing for a better material planning system don’ t care if the new software they want has an awkward accounts payable section. Or the warehouse manager who is excited by features that improve his ability to track and process inventory finds that the sales department is being unreasonable if the reports they used to get are not readily available in the new system.

Be prepared to insist that whomever is rewarded with the contract to install your new software also be able to satisfy everyone so that there is no degradation of what you previously had. And be williing to pay for it. Or be willing to walk the political tightrope.

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Data Transfer to a New System

A client asked us to provide a software company that would be moving them into a new system with existing customer master information so that it could be imported into their system. The recipient of the data made no effort to discuss the data and notes provided. It became obvious that they posted the data into their new system with information that they labeled erroneously and designated its use incorrectly. Are they to be trusted when not even apologizing for the lack of effort?

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Company Vs. Customer Specific

One software purveyor told our client that their sales order processing tasks were company specific and not customer specific and to deal with it. What they were saying was that it was too much programming effort to allow exceptions to the rule when processing selected customers orders. Was that being lazy or just too difficult and complicated to start building in so many unique scripts of exceptions?

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That’s the Best We Can Do

“That’s the Best We Can Do” is not what you want to hear someone say when you are asking him or her for professional help. It’s not quite throwing in the towel but it is an admission that even if there is a better solution, he or she cannot do it. The recipient of this response then needs to evaluate the situation and decide if not getting the best or even a better solution is that important. They also have to decide if it is worth it to find someone else who can do better.

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A Good Project Manager Knows His Software User

We were on the phone talking to the project liaison for the company that was installing a new accounting system for my client. We were both looking at the same order entry screen on our respective computers. I asked the fellow if he thought that the prompts display for the input fields made sense. I suggested that there should be better field labels that more clearly defined their purpose. All it did was confuse the user.

He responded that he had no opinion that in all the years he programmed he never got involved or thought about the user’s perspective. He had assignments or tasks to complete and he did what he was told. And this was the man who was the liaison between my client and the programmers on his software company’s staff.

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Investigate Before Switching Software

When considering switching to a different accounting system, investigate all aspects. One minor item on the negative checklist shouldn’t kill a deal but one should be checking that there are not too many negatives.

We recently came across a client committed to switching to another system and then found out that the software did not allow for entering a non-stock code line item into a sales order. Every line item had to have a code that exists first in the item master file. This was a hardship as the client sold many items as one-timers. The software purveyors told them it was too difficult to make the necessary changes to permit it. The client was stuck with a work-around that made clerical action more involved but they had already written an initial payment to the software vendor.

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It’s Your Business Culture

Call it what you want- your culture, policies, practices. It’s yours- not someone else telling you how it should be. Unless, of course, you ask for advice.

You go to the barber. He says it’s his policy to always cut sideburns short. You want to keep the long sideburns. So you realize this guy is not the one you want to cut your hair.

You go to a supermarket and see ten people standing in a winding line waiting to be taken care of at the checkout. There are no other checkouts open. It’s the store policy to only hire one checkout person regardless of customer traffic. You make a note as to whether you ever want to return to this scene or shop elsewhere in the future.

You sit in the driver’s seat of your car the way you feel most comfortable, set the steering wheel position, lock in the push buttons on the radio dial to stations you prefer. When you go to buy a new car, you don’t want the salesman to tell you that you can only listen to certain stations and that the buttons have been preset. That you must keep the steering wheel at a certain tilt, etc.

We can go on with examples- the point is that businesses establish their own culture. Sometimes they are willing to adjust, sometimes they say take it or leave it to the customer. Maybe it depends on who holds the cards.

A client asked us to help them navigate the emotional traipse through the process of buying a new accounting system. A business uses a particular package for a good number of years and realizes that it is now time to consider an alternative.

There were two issues of concern with the accounting system:

  1. They labeled what you or I would call Normal Order process SPECIAL ORDER. That’s correct- to them special order meant that when selling something out of stock, a request to have the supplier expedite the product back to them was special. The accounting system designer considered that m ost businesses would let the supplier drop ship the product for them to their end customer.

    That may work for some small time ecommerce operators but not for medium sized businesses.

  2. The accounting software had no provision for non-stock item entry where the input person could leave the item code field blank and free form a description, selling price, and cost. It required that an item code always needed to be entered and if one did not exist it would be created on-the-fly.

The accounting software rep had no interest in figuring how to adapt his product to my client’s business culture. It would now be up to the client to decide how comfortable they would be playing other radio stations in the car than what they were used to.

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Accounting Software: Menu-Driven vs Work-Flow

There are two major designs to accounting software- menu-driven and workflow-oriented.
Menu-driven: When the accounting software icon is clicked on the desktop and login credentials are provided, a menu screen pops up offering a choice of modules and sub-menu tasks from which to choose. The user may be required to click on a choice or input a number that relates to the list of options.
In this environment, the user learns to navigate back and forth between the modules on the main menu and intuitively decide which task on a sub-menu to choose. Example screens:


This is pretty much the typical style that has been engaged for more than 40 years since the advent of scaled-down computer systems from the mainframe variety.

Workflow: has a different look. It will include some aspect of the menu-driven scheme but it will also use a more graphical, spatial design. There are graphical displays of tasks to be accomplished. Once a portion of the task is performed, the master work-flow graph shows a representational figure of the document partially processed, its current status and may offer hints as to what it takes to finish the task.

For example, AP purchases are entered. When one returns to the master graphic, there is a picture of documents sitting in the entry position with an arrow pointing to a location on the graph that will identify the next point required to finish the task. This may be a station that is labeled Open Invoice or Posted Invoices.

In the menu-driven model,  the user will need to go to the menu task labeled POST PURCHASES. In the work-flow model, [SEE BELOW] the user may just need to drag the icon representing the entered purchases to the Post Purchases station and click a pop-up that double checks whether the user is ready to do the task.


For some, the work-flow model may seem easier. There may also need to be several conditional flags set so that when the simple drag and drop functionality is used, the correct underlying actions take place. In the menu-driven scheme, most likely all the underlying actions will be presented as a checklist of acceptance before the final OK is clicked.

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