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Making Business-Software Choices

(August 2005) posted on Fri Aug 05, 2005

From accounting and front-end software to tools for the back end.

click an image below to view slideshow

By Marty McGhie

This month, we'll examine three general software areas:
accounting software, front-end software, and back-end software.
Keep in mind that we're discussing business software here, not
graphics-production software. It's somewhat misleading to consider
these three types of software as separate and distinct products
(and buying decisions). Actually, all three areas need to be
compatible with one another in order to create an effective software
solution. It would be very cumbersome, for example, to have a
fantastic database application
built to track prospective
sales, but have it not interface
with your customer and
sales-order database.

Number crunching

Accounting software is probably
the easiest area to find a
solution for your specific
business needs. A score of
accounting-software options
are available, including wellknown
products such as Peachtree, MAS 90, and Platinum for Windows
(all from Best Software), as well as Microsoft Great Plains and

No matter which accounting software you choose, it should
perform the basics: book sales into accounts receivable, record
accounts payable, cut checks, process payroll, produce financial
statements out of a general ledger package, and so on.
The level of accounting software you invest in should depend
upon your company's needs. That is, the amount of transactions
you're processing and the level of detail you may desire from
your accounting software will help you to determine how robust
the software needs to be.

Be wary, however, of over-buying"?don't get trapped into
purchasing expensive accounting software because it can "do
so many wonderful things." High-end accounting software can
be very expensive, so it's better to buy a package that will provide
you with only the information you truly need.

The front and back ends

The second area of our focus is front-end software. This type of
software may include several features or elements, including a
quote system, an estimating system linked into job costing,
order entry, client interface, sales-prospecting modules, data
mining, and other applications.