Situation: A small company wants to reduce costs by consolidating accounting and operational communications between remote divisions, with home office coordination. Can you more effectively reduce costs by consolidating services or is it better to set up parallel but complimentary accounting and operational communications in each division?
Advice from the CEOs:
- There are a number of things that need to be considered, including:
- Whether the existing legacy system is off the shelf with modifications or was custom designed for your operation.
- Does the current system meet your needs, and do operators understand it? Is operational understanding diffuse or can only one or two people operate it?
- How similar are the divisions in terms of product, customers and operations?
- Do divisions serve distinct, non-overlapping customers with different product lines?
- Are there important operational differences, for example are some divisions union, and others non-union?
- On an ongoing basis, except for accounting, do divisions function as complimentary or distinctly separate businesses?
- How complex are the product and pricing offerings? Could you consider a simple solution like QuickBooks or are there are complexities to your business model and accounting that the off-the shelf or web-based systems can’t address?
- How much historical data from your current system is needed to support ongoing and future operations?
- The simplest solution may be to run your current system off of a server, with multiple nodes connected to the system – a direct connection at your home office, and point-to-point lines connecting your remote offices. This will solve both your data transfer and communications needs.
- Hire a computer consultant to set this up and assist you in establishing a link. It will cost some money, but will save you time and money in the long-run.
- If you decide to change your accounting system, do so at the end of your current fiscal year. Trying to change accounting systems in the midst of a fiscal year creates an accounting nightmare for a small business.