Key Features

A summary list of the 350 key features
most important for an accounting system or ERP solution

By J. Carlton Collins, CPA


When it comes to evaluating accounting software, it is easy to  become bogged down and inundated by the sheer volume of features out there. I've seen many a brilliant mind reduced to total confusion when it comes to weighing the merits of one product over the other. The reality is that of the thousands of features you might address, only a handful really matter. You need only evaluate a few key features I order to separate the good, bad, and ugly of accounting software. Presented below is my personal checklist of those key features and product attributes that in my opinion, generally matter most.  

  • Does the product have good, clean, stable code?

  • Does the product have good underlying technology?

  • Does the product have a good company behind it, with good leadership?

  • Does the product have strong financial reporting capabilities?

  • Does the product have a sizable customer base?

  • Does the product have strong customization capabilities?

  • Does the product have a well-developed and knowledgeable VAR channel?

  • Does the product have a wide breadth of modules?

  • Does the product have a well-developed offering of third party add-on products?

  • Does the General Ledger Module Support:
    1. Multi-Currency?
    2. Foreign Language?
    3. Consolidations?
    4. Allocations?
    5. Statistical Accounts?
    6. E-Mail Financial Statements?
    7. Scheduled Financial Statements?
    8. GL Drill Down to Source Document?
    9. Financial Statement Drill Down?
  • Does the Inventory Module Support:
    1. Matrix Pricing?
    2. Serial Numbers
    3. Multiple Bins?
    4. Lot Tracking?
    5. Multiple Warehouses?
    6. Item Pictures?
    7. Bar Code Tracking?
    8. Consignment Inventory?
    9. Shelf Life Tracking?
    10. Bill of Materials Processing
    11. Exploding & Imploding Quantities?
  • Does the Project Costing Module Support:
    1. Job Estimating?
    2. Time & Billing?
    3. Retainage?
    4. Job Phases?
    5. Resource Tracking?
    6. Critical Path Reporting?
    7. PERT Charts?
    8. A.I.A. Billing?
  • Do the Manufacturing Modules support:
    1. A Product Configurator?
    2. Multi-level Bill of Materials?
    3. Production Planning?
    4. Machine Scheduling?
    5. Make to Order?
    6. Make to Stock?
    7. Engineer to Order?
    8. Shop Floor Control?
    9. Process Manufacturing?
    10. Scrap Tracking?
    11. Machine Setup and Break Down?
  • Does the Product offer the following Advanced Solutions:
    1. Contact Management or CRM Solution?
    2. An E-Commerce Web Store Solution?
    3. A Supply Chain Solution?
    4. A Time & Billing Solution?
    5. A Point of Sale Solution?
    6. A Human Resources Solution?
    7. Strong integration to Microsoft Office?
    8. FRx Solution?
    9. Crystal Reports Solution?


Granted, the above list does not take into account all important aspects for every company situation - that's not the point. The point is that using this checklist makes it faster and easier to gain a good understanding of the features, functionalities and limitations of a given accounting software system. By concentrating on these areas first, you can usually eliminate obviously poor candidates very quickly. Those products that successfully pass this key test should advance to the next evaluation level, which should include the evaluation of more features specifically unique to your company's needs. I hope that this checklist is helpful to you.


To see the Key Features Table for a wide variety of top products, click here: 



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List of 48 Key Features