So you are running a successful business in Tanzania. You found a nice shop or office in a good location, servicing your customers every day and found good people to run your company. But there is always that nagging feeling that things could go much better, that you are leaving money on the table. You wish you had more control over things happening in your organization, so you decided to finally upgrade your accounting system to meet today’s standards. But with so many options, which is the best package? Before making a decision, keep in mind these things:
1. Be careful with first timers, ask questions!
Penny wise, pound foolish they say. Sure everyone is trying to make some money and there is nothing wrong with that. But do you really want to act as a testing ground for a first timer? Your financial administration is the backbone of your business and accounting software is pretty complex stuff with lots of business rules -and exceptions. when talking to a software vendor who wants to sell you something, always ask if they implemented before. And how many times? And do they have experience with your particular line of business? If they cannot answer you this questions in a convincing way, you may want to reconsider before you end up pound foolish.
2. Global brands may not be your best choice
The Tanzanian economy is growing fast but it’s regulations can be a bit challenging. Things are getting more transparent but at the same time there is an increased burden to register things, for example with TRA printers for your invoices. While considering an international brand, please be aware that they may not have these features covered in their software, adding extra steps and increased risk to your financial department. A company from East Africa on the other hand, has probably ample experience with local tax environment and most likely has build in features to comply with the regulations, making your life a lot easier.
3. Local support is essential
As we mentioned before, the Tanzanian economy is doing well and many foreign companies want to enter this market. The number of business software packages available has therefore increased significantly in recent years. But whereas it usually is easy to buy these packages at a local agent, it becomes a complete other story when support is involved. Sure there will be telephone number and chat option. But if there is really something going on, you don’t want to rely on a helpdesk in a far away country like India, United States or Dubai. You want people to come to your office and fix things.
4. Safety first
Your accounting software holds all your financial information and it is very important that this information is secure. This means that the software needs to have good back-up options as well as a decent access rights features. Back-up functionality is necessary for unintentional data loss such as a system crash. Restricted access rights are essential for intentional breaches by people who have access to your system including your staff. A good software not only has username and passwords for every user but is also backed up by a watertight database with no backdoor access. Make inquiries at your software vendor before your information is compromised!
5. Focus on what you need, not on what the package can do
Sure the list of features can be impressive in that new Accounting Software package. But are you going to use all those functionalities? Probably not so better is to take a moment and think about what you really need. Make a list and ask your vendor how these things are covered. Sometimes this list can contain less than ten items, sometimes they can be over hundred. Whatever it is, ask questions and you get a pretty good idea about how experienced your new software supplier is.
6. take a long-term approach
You are not buying a pair of shoes here. Most likely this software is going to support your business in many years to come. You are probably going to use it on a daily base so please take long term approach here. Choose a software that is not only going to accommodate you now but also in the future where your business may hopefully be much larger (and more complex) than today. Preferably, opt for a vendor who builds other business software as well so you can always expand easily. And most important, go for an IT partner who understands your line of business so he can really contribute in automating your processes.