Tools for the job – but which ones?

Using the “right” tools for a particular task makes such a huge difference, both in terms of processing the data and getting the “right” output.

Company accounts are a classic example. Rather than use final accounts software, there are still some that choose to use spreadsheets, probably in the form of Excel templates. That may be fine today, but the disclosure rules change, and have done so quite a lot over the years. Does someone then update the spreadsheets too? And are they interactive, so that disclosures are shown or hidden depending on numbers in the accounts? Mot so long ago, we saw an accountant filing information at Companies House that had an accounting policy stating that the disclosure was in accordance with a Statement of Standard Accounting Practice that had been withdrawn some 15 years before!  

Having decided to use final accounts software, the next question is “which supplier product should I use?”. There is a choice, as with many other competing products out there in the marketplace. Which one is “right”? It depends….and there are many factors to take into account – price, other software used, client base….the list goes on.

The same applies to practically any software or add-on app used in practice. There are tools that perform a particular function, and there are several tools to choose from that are quite similar. Choose one, and another comes along that does something slightly differently. There are often forums asking, “which is best – product x or product y”. Again, what works for one may not work, or not work as well, for another. This is very subjective.

Over a period of time, software will be acquired. We have seen the likes of Iris and Sage expand over the years through acquisition. There is often a love-hate relationship with these companies – some welcome the acquisition, others are less happy, wandering what will happen to the support, the development and the pricing! Sometimes it works, sometimes the acquired product morphs into something else, or disappears!

Want a special tool for a particular job? It is probably out there in the marketplace somewhere. However, the more specialist the requirement, the less choice there probably is. Sometimes tools are available but can be likened to a “sledgehammer to crack a nut” – too “over the top”, too complex, and also too expensive.

It is often possible to share information between products, either by exporting to csv and importing, or through the use of API links. Whichever method is used, it is often not as seamless, intuitive or as effective as one would wish.

So, the big question for this post – what “product” or “tool” do you wish you had available in your armoury?

What would you like to be able to do quickly and easily, but cannot do at the moment, or can only do “roughly”?