Finance executives involved in the accounting/finance software decision-making process are not interested in technology. The "bits and bytes" and the "bells and whistles" are important, but they're not driving new spending in enterprisewide business software. Today's buyer places a greater emphasis on utility, payback, ease of use and integration -- and on the long-term viability of its prospective technology provider.

In our August 2001 issue, Business Finance published an exclusive survey report titled Clouded Vision. The survey results indicated that there's some confusion in the marketplace. Finance executives know why application integration is important, but many don't understand how to accomplish that goal. They are sober in their demands for functionality, but their judgment may not be as discerning as it should be. New products, new business models and consolidation among software vendors have made it tough for software buyers to understand all their options. Brand hype, the changing economic fortunes of the technology sector, and a mismatch between business goals and the technology required to reach those goals are preventing some finance executives from maximizing technology investments.

To follow up on that survey report, Business Finance conducted interviews with senior executives from eight of the 11 accounting/ERP software vendors that readers selected as their "most preferred" in our research last year. (Three of the 11 -- Great Plains, Microsoft and Solomon Software -- are now known as Microsoft Great Plains Business Solutions, and J.D. Edwards declined to participate in this story.) The interviews were designed to probe how vendors perceive the needs of prospective customers and how their offerings satisfy those needs. They also covered several related topics, including:

  • Metrics that can measure the effectiveness of each vendor's application.
  • Implementation, integration and support factors.
  • Software delivery methodology and its impact on cost, security and control.
  • Current U.S. market position and future business prospects.
  • The vendor's vision and its significance to end users.
  • The objective of this follow-up survey is to provide a succinct reference of our readers' preferred accounting and finance software vendors from the vendors' perspective. In their own words, these vendors describe why their systems should be on your shortlist.

    Finance and accounting systems significantly influence business processes and can have a material impact on an organization's performance. Now more than ever before, choosing the right technology partner is of critical importance.