In this study businesses looking for an accounting system were asked to name the top ten
criteria they used to select an accounting software package. The responses were ranked in
order of importance.
In addition, those who were in the process of selecting their first accounting system were
ranked separately from those businesses that were selecting their second system.
This provides a nice comparative view of the importance of various factors commonly used
in deciding which accounting system a firm might use. Of particular interest was how the
ranking changed for firms who were looking to change from an existing system to a new

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First Time Buyers

Here are the rankings for those businesses looking for their first accounting system.

Rank Reason

1. Price of Software
2. Ease of Implementation
3. Ease of Use
4. Software’s ability to fit the business
5. Functionality of software
6. Software works with existing hardware
7. Growth potential of software
8. Level of support provided by the software consultant
9. Quality of documentation
10. Developers track record of performance

When you look at this ranking it seems to make sense. Anyone who has looked for an
accounting system knows how difficult it can be to find the best system for your use. There
are a lot of solid accounting systems available with loads of features. Plus, it is not always
easy to compare one system vs. others.

Naturally no one wants to “overpay” for anything, therefore price is very important. Plus, no

one wants the hassle of a difficult implementation or hard to use software. That is why it is
natural to see these items at the top of the list.

Near the bottom of the list finds local support and the developer’s track record. First time

buyers either do not understand or cannot properly evaluate the importance of these two

Second Time Buyers

Here are the rankings of the same reasons, but this time for businesses selecting their
second system:

Rank Reason

1. Level of support provided by the software consultant
2. Developers track record of performance
3. Software’s ability to fit the business
4. Growth potential of software
5. Price of Software
6. Quality of documentation
7. Functionality of software
8. Ease of Use
9. Ease of Implementation
10. Software works with existing hardware

Major Differences

Some of the rankings stay pretty similar, but others jump out with significant changes as

Rank             Rank           Reason
(1st time) (2nd time)
8                   1              Level of support provided by the software consultant
10                  2              Developers track record of performance
1                  5              Price of Software
3                  8             Ease of Use
2                  9             Ease of Implementation
6               10             Software works with existing hardware


You would think that second time buyers would in general be “smarter” if for no other reason than they have got the experience that first time buyers do not. So it stands to reason that their rankings would be a better guide for those researching accounting system options. Therefore, here are the key points that surface.

• The important role that a quality software consultant* plays is much more
apparent to firms in their second go around with a new system.
• The Developers track record is much more important than first time buyers
think since it jumps in importance from dead last to second in importance.
• Price of Software drops from the prime reason to the middle of the pack
reflecting that price, although important, is not the end all.

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