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Don’t pick software that saves you 20h a week

10th Apr 2023
Brought to you by
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Aurelia are the automation and software experts for accountants and finance leads. We want to to...
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‘Save 6 hours per month!’ ‘Get back 138 hours a year!’. How many times have you heard this marketing slogan or something similar? It’s so abstract and overused that our brains learned to tune it out. Even so, SaaS companies ride on time-saving as the main benefit. Now honestly - have you ever bought a piece of software, for personal or professional use, based only on how much time it saves you or did you consider wider functionality? Plus, automation has to save you time. If it doesn’t it should probably go in the bin. So here’s a short piece to help you look past the time-saving catchphrase and into what really matters when picking automation software.

Don't pick software that saves you 20h a week | Aurelia on AccountingWeb

Don’t speak to sales

Sales team will try to sell you the dream, the promised land - 48 hours saved per day if you start using their tool to automate processes in your firm. They are so focused on this that the actual details of getting started, integrating with your current tech stack, functionality and roadmap get lost. Add to that also some minor overpromising around future features and now you find yourself losing time trying to find information about functionality, actual reviews and ultimately, about getting onboarded. Worst yet, you've already committed and now struggle to get the tool to do what you need it to do. 

When you’re buying a suit you can try it first before committing. Why then, can you not roll out a piece of software to a few clients and see how all of you like it before making the purchase? Unfortunately a lot of vendors make it extremely difficult to find out how the product actually works because access to it is hidden behind a demo that you need to 'book' and then wait for a call. So rather than learning it yourself and seeing if it suits you and your practice, you are put through a one size fits all sales funnel.

We’d recommend speaking to tech people in the company rather than sales people - the tech lead or the product manager. They know the tool inside and out, will help you understand how it works and probably won’t sugarcoat it in the process. You’ll be able to easily assess if they understand the problem and try to solve it. Ask them if you can give it a shot yourself first, even if for a day. Suggest that even if you don’t sign up, you provide feedback. There are no product people who are not looking for further improvements. 

Be curious

When looking for new tech products, look out for vendors who have something original to say. Does it seem like they have expertise in the field? Is their target audience well-defined? Basically are they able to say, ‘we are not for you, but here is something else that may help.' Do they ask for feedback? Do they have a change-log where they post updates to the product that is easily available and transparent? Do they give you a heads up about what’s coming up and what they plan to release in the coming months? This is particularly relevant now, with so many leading tech companies slowing down on innovation.

In addition to those questions to make yourself a bit more resistant to the sales-talk, look at other fields to get an idea of how problems can be solved. If it’s possible to get a dashboard to track steps & calories you can probably get a dashboard that breaks down how many transactions without invoices you have. This gives you general awareness of where tech is at, what’s possible and available so you won’t have to settle for a bare minimum.

Unfortunately a lot of accounting tech was built with accountants and finance as an afterthought rather than the main audience. This means that their pain points weren’t explored properly. With time too, new features were built on top of the old ones creating a clunky, disjointed experience. Also, can things be solved easier without adding another tool to your tech stack? Rather than using a pitched ERP solution, could you potentially use Notion for this? Can you pick one tool that solves all accounts payable processes rather than separate for processing and payments? Could you get a tool that integrates with all your tools or do you rely on native integrations and separate APIs for them all?

The bottom line is whenever you look for new software or are being sold to, ask yourself - is the experience you’re receiving truly the best it could be?

Don’t let them fool you

Given the current economic situation more and more companies will look at increasing their prices (as Dext has done recently). They will do everything to keep you on and ride on the fact that it’s harder to switch and offboard all your clients than to accept paying more. They need to stay afloat in unfavourable economic conditions so they will give you little. So it's up to you to know better. Put your company and your clients first. The truth is, with the right set up and smooth onboarding experience that’s assisted by a dedicated team, switching may actually cost you less in the long run. And save you time too if we’re talking about it.

Consider also if you can trust the tool not only with your finances but also with the future? Looking around at acquisitions and companies declaring cuts and bankruptcies it’s worth asking yourself and their team if they truly can provide the support you need. It's also worth asking if they hope to be around in the next year. If the answer is wobbly, it’s probably a no.

One last thing to consider is how is the support looking beyond the point when you decide to make a purchase? Are you left to your own means once you subscribe or does the company help you with implementation? It’s not uncommon for vendors to have a shiny demo for not only a half-baked product but also for virtually nothing on the customer support side. Of course most accountants will manage to get set themselves but the issue here is time and efficiency. Vendors should support accountants through the implementation process and beyond to ensure the tool is synced with the tech stack and processes and any potential issues can be relayed to the product team.

Final word

Being a conscious buyer in the overloaded world of accounting tech is not easy and comes at a price of research and genuine curiosity. It puts a lot of pressure on you as the ‘buyer’ to to do a massive amount of due diligence to make sure you’re not buying a bag of hot air and ensure you get what you need. 

You may not have time. We get it. You’re probably already busy with the day-to-day stuff so again- automate! Automating the small stuff frees your mind for bigger things and looking at your practice as a system working together rather than separate processes. This will enable you to see where top-tier tech can be inserted to deliver outstanding results.

And what’s your biggest ick when it comes to marketing of the accounting automation tools? Is it really ‘Save 48 hours a day’ or something else? Let us know at [email protected] 

Also, if you want to take a look at software that obviously saves you time but also delivers true value, check out our website.

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