The Most Advanced Accounting Software on the Planet

Tally 9.0 has been dubbed the most advanced accounting software on the planet.” That claim is obviously more marketing spin than carefully researched fact, but it points to a trap that we so frequently fall into: comparing accounting software as though there were some perfect system against which all others must be measured.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a Microsoft fan. In my quarter century of accounting, I have spent a decade implementing Dynamics GP (Great Plains) and Dynamics NAV (Navision). But I still wouldn’t claim that it’s the most advanced accounting software on the planet. The issue is not how advanced it is, but how well it fits the client’s needs and budget.

“Unlike other accounting software, Tally accounting software makes sure all data is protected and backed up automatically” (further on in the same article). If someone starts comparing two accounting packages, stop them right there. There is no standardized language in accounting software upon which to base a fair comparison. Two packages may claim to have advanced inventory features, multi-currency, role based security etc. etc., but when you investigate, you find that they have addressed these features in very different ways. Furthermore, there are hidden assumptions included in the words. I would challenge anyone who claimed that their system automatically backs up data. How can their system ensure that backup media are being properly rotated and taken off site? These are both critical aspects to the back up process. The word “automatic” sends up red flags for me, as do the words “easy”, “user friendly” and “at the click of a button”.

Frankly, we accounting software implementers have done ourselves a lot of harm by raising people’s expectations to unrealistic levels about how easy it is to change accounting systems. Yes, the software installs quickly. Yes, everything is menu driven. Yes, the manuals are online and there’s an extensive help system. All of those features do not change the fact that accounting is done very differently in different companies, even those in the same industry. The bulk of the time spent in an accounting implementation is in marrying the new system to the company’s procedures and requirements, as well as migrating the historical data to the new system, not installing the software. One thing I admire about Microsoft is the way they insist that all customers work with a local firm (“Partner”), so that there is someone familiar with the customer’s business environment on the ground to deal with specific issues.

Microsoft actually goes one step further. They design their systems in layers, the top layer being the changes needed to make the software fit the individual client. They don’t claim to be the most advanced software on the planet. They claim to provide a set of flexible tools so that you and your Partner can make the system fit your needs.

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