Accounting is one of the most challenging aspects of running small and medium enterprises (SMEs). But software could help to make the chore easier and quicker. Vikram Suri, the managing director for the Middle East and India at Sage Software, agrees.
q At what stage of their growth should SMEs start thinking about buying software to help with accounting?
a I would imagine it would be either the moment when they grow and have more people … when they start to trade in different geographical locations … [or] when they are positioning to partner with other organisations that are more sophisticated and they need to know where they stand … I think they are very conscious of their needs. The adoption of a new system is not because it is cool … It is the value benefit they would get from it to run their business more efficiently.
What kind of benefits does using software to help with accounting offer SMEs?
Accounting is not their core business. They're looking at technology or an accounting system to assist them to run their business more efficiently … [It] is an absolute necessity for a company to know at any time what their cash flow looks like, what their business forecast looks like. [Accounting software] gives them a view of historical information on their own performance. It gives them information around their profitability.
What other options do SMEs have?
Say you're a mason: you would look at how much you spend on your raw materials, what money you got back from the client, how much you spend on transportation. And then maybe you would have a simple calculator, or, if you were computer savvy, you would have an Excel spreadsheet in which you would enter that information and at the end of the day you would [work out] if you made money or you lost money in that transaction.
That's fine for businesses with a couple of employees. What about slightly larger ones?
As an SME, you start growing to become a mid-market type-product, so you would have a person in accounts, you would have a chief executive of the business, who would also probably be the sales manager and doing several other roles … In most SMEs that we have seen, this information is sitting between the chief executive and the finance manager.
Sage offers an accounting system called Peachtree specifically for SMEs. Why?
We believe SMEs are a very big and a growing part of the world economy today, but we do not only develop software for SMEs … We have different solutions.
What does Peachtree do?
It is essentially a product that SMEs adopt for doing accounting, and it has some basic, inherent features which help an organisation of an SME-type nature to grow.