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28 May 2009

Testing the Waters, Toe by Toe - Which ERP system should I pick?

The second question in my mind, was around the accounting package for my business.

Having managed a couple of SMB Accounting Packages and having had to grapple with the complexities associated with them, I figured that I needed something that is really simple to use.

I certainly did not want to get mired in the complexities of managing a software application on site. Things like

1) Backing up the software application

2) Taking daily Server Snapshots for disaster recovery

3) Paying license fee for using the Software

4) Paying license fee for Users on the Servers

5) Paying for Terminal Server Licenses ( If I wanted remote access)

6) Paying for software upgrades

7) Paying for software management and support

etc. were aspects sometimes overlooked. I have seen people in various businesses going through this and tearing their hair out. The main point here is, it is hard to notice money flowing out in trickles.

Anyhow, I did not want to take this path when other options were available in the market. The solution for me was to find an application that sits on the cloud which would solve all the above issues at one go.

I was not sure how to go about finding one. As always, I started with a google search and it came up with a few applications. Figuring out how each of those apps work was taking a lot of time. I realised that if I go on like this, I will be researching forever and will not be able to reach anywhere.

I suppose one of the best (and the quickest) ways to learn is from others' experiences. So I decided to search for articles and blogs that talk about cloud computing and software-as-a-service.

I stumbled upon an article written by Brendan Lewis around "Accounting on a Cloud". The article really helped me to narrow down my search. I checked customer feedbacks on each of the software apps Brendan listed in his article and found Saasu to be the best fit for my requirements.

The best thing about Saasu was the ease of use & the simple layout. I figured out how to use the basic application in just a couple of days. I also did my BAS (Business Activity Statement) reporting in one minute.

I just had to run a report and it gave me all the totals and step-by-step instructions on which value goes to which column of the BAS statement.

Doing my BAS was a big deal for me as it was my first time. The other reason being, I have experienced first hand what happens when the accounting package fails to give correct BAS totals thereby forcing the accounts department to manually do the calculations!

In addition to all of this, the pricing of Saasu was phenomenal. They had a great pricing model where the cost was based on volume of transactions which was capped after a point. So worst case, I knew how much I would pay. Best case, I did not have to pay anything as it was free till a certain number of transactions per month.

Lastly, it was a web based application which followed the software-as-a-service model and I could access it anywhere and anytime I wanted. I would not need to worry about system crashes, changing backup tapes, renewing server licences, and so on...

Phew! Finally got that question answered!

Read Part Four - Business Structure

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