21st November 2013

Square pegs and round holes: disadvantages of generic accounting software

Generic accounting software can be perfectly functional, but is it really suitable for everyday use in the construction sector?

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Upgrading to construction softwareIt’s more than likely that by now the majority of UK construction firms are already using accounts management software to help speed up and automate the process of managing their business.

However, while generic software programs can be effective in some respects, a construction firm would benefit far more from specialised construction accounts management software, as there are processes that can be streamlined if they were better focussed on the particular requirements of a construction firm. In comparison to those companies who are using construction-specific software, those who are sticking with their generic software system are really at a disadvantage, and here’s why…

Manual data processing required

One of the core reasons for investing in software is because managing your accounts manually can be time-consuming, and although generic software can help automate some processes, there are still likely to be areas that will need handling manually, often outside of the system in spreadsheets. For example, generic accounts software does not cater for the detailed job costing reporting requirements of those in the construction industry, and so cannot help to accurately cost your projects without the need for you to work with it manually. A standard data processing system that is not specifically designed for use in the construction industry will always require you to work that bit harder. In comparison construction specific systems are contract-based which automatically compiles costing information into one place for fast and detailed analysis.

Risk of non-compliance

While some generic accounts packages will provide you with programs designed specifically for managing your taxes in order for you to remain compliant, the construction industry is governed by more strict, detailed legislation than the majority of businesses - for example requirements around working with subcontractors including the Construction Industry Scheme or CIS. Therefore, more specialised and focused software is needed if it is to be relied upon to remain compliant, one that offers attention to detail and requires a minimum amount of manual work so as to reduce the risk of human error. Attempting to use your generic software to complete only part of the process will likely cause more harm than it’s worth.

Limited access to other departments

You are unlikely to be the only one relying on your accounts management software as users from various departments within your company, such as contract managers and quantity surveyors will need to be able to depend upon its functionality, but you’ll find a generic accounts system to be quite restrictive and unable to store information relevant to external departments. More often than not, a generic system will only allow users access to one area at a time, whereas construction accounts management software can allow hundreds of users to access information at any one time.

Lack of versatility

Different users will require the accounts software to support them with different processes, so it is important that your software is able to provide the right assistance where necessary. For example, when hiring new subcontractors, the person responsible would need to ensure that they were legally verified and adequately recorded in order to remain compliant with HMRC, which would require the software to have been designed with subcontractors in mind. A generic accounts software will not have been built to such specific requirements, as they are not generally necessary to everyone who uses it.

Although there is no denying that generic accounting software can offer support and benefit a construction company in some ways, there is little to compare when it comes to construction accounts management software. Software that is designed specifically for your industry will work without compromise and help you beyond that of simply completing the most mundane day-to-day tasks. If you’re interested in finding out more about Integrity Software contact the team, today.


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