As a general rule the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information. (Benjamin Disraeli)
Suppliers of accounting software target accountants with good reason. Today most SME businesses use both an accounting package and an accountant. At a recent meeting, colleagues discussed who used what tools in their practice. We then wondered if we should develop a new solution - one that provided the best features of all. There is no one ideal solution. The same applies to client systems. As an aside only one of my clients runs a system whose vendor does not also offer an accountant's system - and only one of the main accountant's systems comes from a vendor who doesn't also offer client accounting systems.
So that explains why many colleagues prefer clients to use systems from the same vendor. We encourage clients to have their own relationships with vendors, so we do not receive commissions from their choice and cannot have our view tainted by dollars. We have charged extra for clients who use some systems simply because they require significantly more effort.
Despite the offers from vendors, we continue to be involved with all major software providers, and to support clients who run systems other than one we use. We are Reckon Professional Partners and Xero Certified Advisors. We are also in MYOB's connected accounting program, and have access to Cognito (we run Windows versions even thought client's run Mac versions). We support clients even when they use a package that is not well-suited to their circumstances. We do miss some advantages we might gain by being tied to one supplier. But the big advantage is we are better placed than many to compare (and support) the various options. Do we have a favourite? Probably. We use one internally - and have done since 1998.
We have a client in an industry were the standard is not PC's but Macs. Fortunately the accounting software they use also has a Windows version - which is easier for me. And when we connect via TeamViewer, he usually operates because I've never been comfortable with Macs. So for him to buy a Windows based system would make no sense. Another is a dual US / NZ citizen. He didn't choose his system on these grounds, but the system he uses makes it easier to prepare various reports. Another uses one vendor for his company, and another for his trust.
There are many paths to choosing an accounting system to use. Here we assume you want to evaluate the most popular, and find out what one offers against another. This CANNOT offer comprehensive information of what is available - even just from these popular suppliers. It used to be that new features were added every year but the introduction of "cloud" systems means suppliers can add new features as they complete them. And because cloud clients are always on the latest version you need to keep up to date with new enhancements. Otherwise it's likely the system will offer features you want but missed the introduction.
You may prefer one supplier. For example if you want your old data as part of the new, then you probably want to switch to a new version of the same software. Even another product from the same supplier may not read data completely accurately from another system. Desktop software with different levels are the same product with features disabled as you go down, so we're not regarding them as different products, but you can start to appreciate how complex this can get. Even cloud software tends to offer different functions but it's still the same core product.
Another reason for staying with a supplier may be that your accountant is aligned with one supplier. There are valid reasons for this, but we think if a particular package suits your operation and budget then it may be worth considering changing accountants. However for those who have a good relationship with their accountant, that may be a reason to look only at a particular supplier.