Monday, September 1, 2008

The Accounting Software (R)evolution

It’s time to take a long, hard look at the accounting software your office uses to serve clients. Not because there is anything wrong with what you’ve used all these years, but because the software we use has improved so dramatically over the past few years that the decisions made in decades past may no longer be valid.

Some 15 years ago, when I first started writing this column, accounting software was a mess. Rooted firmly in DOS, static and often spreadsheet-based, it sat there like a three-color lump on the screen. In those days, the big question was, “Which tax program would print a return the fastest?” Heck, they even held “shootouts” to time them and declare winners and losers.

No one even thought about Windows For Workgroups 3.11, or the Mac. If there was any thought given to the impending release of Windows 95, it was half anticipation and half trepidation. Today, the software has improved so rapidly that it is almost less an evolution than a revolution. In the space of a single half-decade, we have seen whole genres of software, like payroll, become an online service … with full HR support incorporated. Virtually every type of software has gone through an extensive upgrade in usability, navigation and appearance. Colors in the output have become more vibrant and now routinely include not only printed output but full-screen presentations in PowerPoint and web output.

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