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Fund Guide

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The Complete Guide toSwitching fromBasic to Fund Accounting SoftwareAneBookpublishedby:CSASoftwareSolutions

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Chapter 1Signs You Are Outgrowing Your Basic Accounting SystemChapter 2Fund Accounting Software Check ListChapter 3Who Else at Your City Should Be Included in Your FundAccounting Software Search?Chapter 4Deciding Between In-House/Installed, the Cloud, or SaaSChapter 5Best Web Sites for Your Fund Accounting Software SearchChapter 6The Most Effective Way to Evaluate a Fund AccountingSystemChapter 7Factors that Affect the Cost of Fund Accounting SoftwareChapter 8Tips on Transferring Your Data to a New SystemChapter 9How Do You Know You are Making the Right Decision?TABLE OF CONTENTSTheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CHAPTER1Signs You Are Outgrowing YourBasic Accounting SystemIs it really time to switchto a fund accounting software?TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 1Signs You Are Outgrowing Your Basic Accounting SystemUnderstand the signs to see if it's time for you to move from your basicaccounting software to something that can better handle your fund accountingneeds.Sign #1Work-arounds are the norm.You are spending more time 'tricking' your system than simply working with it.Set aside one whole week where you consciously keep track of how muchtime you or your staff spends manipulating your software to handle the wayyou need to enter or analyze your data. Are processes such as budgetreports still being prepared in a spreadsheet? Are bank reconciliations takingyou three to four steps when they should really only take one or two? If so,you and your staff could save significant time by moving to a system that canhandle your needs.You cannot customize the system to operate in a way that's meaningful toyour city accounting and payroll needs. The longer you work for your city,the more you realize that your city has its own unique set of needs. Forexample, you want to show a special column on your revenue andexpenditure statement, or you want to pay employees out of differentfunds but not have to issue two checks. Basic accounting softwarepackages are made for general business, and therefore, you must makedue with a system not made for municipal accounting. Fund accountingpackages recognize your unique municipal accounting needs allowing youto customize over time.Sign #2You need better customization.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 1Signs You Are Outgrowing Your Basic Accounting SystemSign #3The Software is Not Easy to Use.Again, for the sake of ease of use, general accounting programs provide alimited set of reports for you to run. Yet your city may really need to see thedata in your own way. For example, perhaps you want to run a report thatshows the subtotal per item by fund. A fund accounting program will allowfor revisions to be made, and the reports can then be saved for later use, soyou can view the information in a way that your council or auditor prefers.Sign #4Reporting is Limited.Sign #5There is a Lack of Support.As with any product available today, a result of paying too little means yourservice will be less as well. Many basic accounting programs will defrayservice expenses by outsourcing their service to an overseas call center. AFund accounting program will provide more complete support services, witha variety of contact methods, and professional fund accounting supportstaff with years of experience. Look for a fund accounting software that is intuitive, simple to navigate andeasy to use, even for beginners. Make sure the software gives you the toolsyou need to take total control of your city's financial management. It'simportant to have an accounting software that alleviates stress instead ofadding to it. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CHAPTER2Fund Accounting and PayrollCheck ListA check list of fund accounting and payroll softwarefeatures to help organize what you really need. Fill inand present to vendors so you can get a true picture ofwhether they can meet your needs.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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System Features Feature Enter Your Needs Asset Management Budgeting Import/Export Loan Tracking Multi-language Number of Funds Number of Users (Work Stations) Project Tracking Security Years of History GASB Recommended Format General Ledger Features Feature Enter Your Needs Account Classes Account Split Departments within Funds Audit Trail Bank Deposit Bank Reconciliation Reports Feature Enter Your Needs Consolidated Reporting Customizable Reports Standard Reports Drill Down/Interactive Reports Billing and Accounts Receivable Feature Enter Your Needs Batch Payments Overpayments/Deposits Payment Editing Payment Selection Business License Fees/Dues Billing

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Paying Invoices Feature Enter Your Needs 1099 Management ACH Payments Purchase Orders Encumbrances Payroll Feature Enter Your Needs Number of Full Time Employees Number of Part Time Employees Pay out of multiple funds Pay out of departments within Funds Pay Employees Out of Multiple Departments Time Clock Import Checks Print on Plain Paper Customizable Pay Stubs Direct Deposit Track/Pay Employee Garnishment Sick Time Calculations Vacation/Leave Accrual Tracking H R Functions Document Attachment Track employee training/certification Ability to print W-2/W-3 Ability to print Quarterly Reports ACA Reports New Hire Report Print Vendor Liability Checks Security

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CHAPTER3Who Else at Your City Should be Includedin Your Fund Accounting Search?Leaving key people out of the fund accountingsoftware search can lead to disastrous results. Getideas about who to include, and what to ask them.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Who Else at Your City Should be Includedin Your Fund Accounting Search?Since accounting software affects many different departments in your city, it iswise to include anyone using the system during your search, to some degree.When applicable to your city, include these decision makers to start aconversation about their needs in the new system.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CHAPTER4Deciding Between In-House/Installed, theCloud, or SaaSLearn more about the differences between in-house,cloud, and SaaS systems, so you can make the bestdecision for your city.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 4Deciding Between In-house/Installed, the Cloud, or SAASSaaS "Software as a Service" is thepractice of using software that isaccessible via the internet, so there isno software to install internally. Thesoftware resides on the provider'sserver, and you access it with your ownsign-in name(s) and password(s). Theupside of using SaaS is there is no needto perform updates or upgrades, or infact perform any softwaremaintenance, since this is all done bythe provider.Although the terms, "The Cloud" and "SaaS" are different, the benefits ofusing them are similar. The main benefits of both are the time and resourcesavings, and the ability to access data remotely.Cloud Computing or "The Cloud" refers to the practice of having softwareapplications hosted at a secure location on the internet, rather than at yourown facility. Having applications hosted on The Cloud reduces the need tokeep up and maintain applications and servers, saving the IT personconsiderable time and resources. Usually cloud computing is a broad term,referring to the larger scheme of software setup, rather than just oneapplication.Which option is best for your city? It's hard to know the answer withoutunderstanding the difference between these three terms.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 4Deciding Between In-house/Installed, the Cloud, or SaaSIn-house Software is, just as it states, software you install on one of yourown servers, which may then be networked to other computers at yourcompany. Using In-house software typically offers the benefit of morecontrol and often reduced costs. Again though, keep in mind that you will be100% responsible for creating and testing your own backups. Installingupdates and upgrades is also up to you. Maintaining current hardware is alsorequired for your In-house Software to run optimally.Really the decision whether to use SaaS, Cloud Computing and/or In-houseSoftware depends on how much control you need, your IT resourcesavailable, and your budget. Using software in The Cloud, or as a service, has its risks. Your informationmay be more vulnerable, since information is stored and transmitted via theinternet. If something goes wrong with the company hosting your data, youwill want to be sure your data is safe. When your data is hosted elsewhere,there is somebody else besides you in control of backing up your data, so besure to check into how they are handling that. Make sure you arecomfortable with the frequency with which they back up your data, and alsothe procedures they use. Minimize risk by carefully reviewing the companyyou choose, and by making sure they are a trusted partner, rather than anunfamiliar vendor.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CHAPTER5Best Web Sites for Your Fund Accounting and Payroll Software SearchThe most helpful web resources available for free, tohelp you narrow down to ashort list of vendors. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftwareChapter 5Best Web Sites for your Accounting Software SearchCapterra.comThis is an excellent web site for finding all varieties of business software.First, you select the type of software you are seeking, and then you narrowdown your search by checking criteria specific to that software. You canalso narrow your search by location, revenue, number of employees andyour budget. Capterra has put great care into making their site user-friendly and practical for any municipal software search, includingaccounting and payroll software. For those of you who prefer to submityour requirements, you can fill in a form and submit it, and have softwarevendors submit their quotes to you—at no cost to you.FindAccountingSoftware.comThis is an excellent web site for your accounting software search. You can goin and browse software by application (general ledger, payroll, etc.) or byindustry. You can also fill in a quick, three-step questionnaire and/or call tospeak with a software specialist to have vendors receive your information andcontact you. This service is free to software searchers. They do a thorough jobof asking the right questions and finding you appropriate products that fityour budget and requirements.Below are some of the most useful web sites for narrowing down yoursoftware search. When you choose to take a huge step in the rightdirection, and look at a fund accounting package, these siteswill save you and your team considerable hours of frustration!

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CHAPTER6The Most Effective Way to Evaluate a Fund Accounting and Payroll SystemLearn how to make the most of your time and reachthe best decision for your city.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 6The Most Effective Way to Evaluate a Fund Accountingand Payroll SystemAttend a live demonstration.Some software companies offerpotential users the opportunity tojoin a demonstration of theirsoftware, whether it’s via theinternet or in person. This can be abeneficial use of your time, since youcan watch an expert navigatethrough the system, with the abilityto ask questions along the way. Afterall, who is better at showing you thesystem than a system expert?Attending a demonstration is amust-do for the purchase of anysoftware system!View product videos.Watching a video about your potential software is a good way to get to knowthe system and in general, what it has to offer, including some of its featuresand the user interface. The downside of product videos is that you can’tsearch for the features you are seeking, or see how the product works. It is agreat way to get a general feel for the system, which can be extremelyhelpful.There are several ways to test out your new system. Being aware of whatis available will help you choose the right method for you and yourbusiness.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 6The Most Effective Way to Evaluate a Fund Accountingand Payroll SystemFully functioning trial software version.Some software vendors offer a trial version of their software for you to tryout. Some software trials are fully functioning versions of the software, andothers are more limited. The advantage to using a software trial version isthat you can really get a feel for how the system works. However, withoutsome training or at least familiarity with a software system, it’s nearlyimpossible to get a true picture of how the software really works.In a perfect world, you would have the option to use all three of the above tomake your decision. First, view a product video at the start of your softwaresearch, in order to gain familiarity with the system. After that, attend a livedemonstration to get an idea if that system (how it works and its feature set)is an appropriate option for you and your city. Using these two optionstogether can be enough to make your decision, but if you still have questionsafter that, installing the trial software version can really help. Just be surethat when you are in the trial version working, there is somebody at thesoftware vendor company who is willing to help you along the way andanswer any questions that may arise during your evaluation.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CHAPTER7Factors that Affect the Cost ofFund Accounting and Payroll SoftwareGet an idea of how much accounting systems cost, andwhat variables typically affect the cost of accountingand payroll software programs. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 7Factors that Affect the Cost of Fund Accounting andPayroll SoftwareCustomizationThere are two types of customization when it comes to fund accounting andpayroll software. One type is more basic and allows you to customizecomponents within the software. As systems become more robust, morecustomization is offered within the system. The other is ‘open source code’which allows you (actually, a programmer) to customize the program tomeet your needs. The more customization, the more expensive the softwarebecomes. This is because more resources are needed to plan for andimplement custom programming for your system. The ongoing support ofcustomized software takes more time and resources, thus the more yoursupport will cost.SupportHow do you feel as a customer of the software you use? When you contactthe company for help, do you feel important? Or do you feel lost in a sea ofother customers, trying to get your voice heard? Your fund accounting andpayroll software is only as good as its support team. Maybe you need helpsetting up your system, trying to find the most efficient way to do something,or solving a problem that seems to be taking you a long time on your own.Your software support team should be able to help you with any of theseissues and more. If you have to spend time waiting and hoping for somebodyto call you back, only to realize they are not experienced enough to help you,that is wasted time and lost dollars. Opt for support that is experienced andavailable within a reasonable amount of time. Yes the price tag may be more,but in the end you will save money and keep things running smoothly.As with any important purchase you make, many factors should beconsidered when purchasing fund accounting software. Every detail andfeature costs money to develop, distribute, support and maintain. Instead offocusing on price, be sure that the software you choose can handleyour city's specific needs and help you support your community for years tocome.TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CHAPTER8Tips on Transferring Your Data to a New SystemTransferring data from your old system to your newone may help you get up and running faster. Learnabout ways to improve the data transfer process andget the data you need to start out. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 8Tips on Transferring Your Data to a New SystemWhich information transfers to the new system?Which information you can bring from your old system to the new onedepends on what you are able to get out of the old system, and also dependson how (and IF) that data will fit into your new system. Also, what tools andor services are available in the new system for you to pull in the data?Most accounting systems will allow you to pull out a standard set of masterinformation such as chart of accounts and vendor information. Keep in mindthat you will likely NOT be able to transfer over any of your history when youare moving to a new program. You may be able to bring in beginningbalances, or you may have to enter that information by hand. Again, thisdepends on the capacity of your old and new systems.Many new systems will provide you with an import wizard, which guides youalong the process of bringing in the master information from your oldsystem. Before starting the wizard, you will need to be prepared with yourdata file, and have it saved somewhere accessible, in the format your newsystem requires. This is why it is important to research your export andimport options well ahead of time.If you are thinking about transferring your data or ‘migrating’ to a newsoftware system, here are some of the main things to consider. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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Chapter 8Tips on Transferring Your Data to a New SystemTransfer data, or start over?After many years of using a general accounting system, you may find that itwould be more helpful to manually enter your information into the new fundaccounting system, rather than importing it. Entering the data by hand istime-consuming, but it also allows you to reconsider how you have thingsset up, and you can make improvements based on past experience. Theseimprovements can be beneficial to you and your city for years to come. Sobefore you decide to import your data, take a closer look at the way you haveyour system set up, and see if there’s room for improvement. If so, youshould consider starting in the new system from scratch.Transfer yourself, or get help from a professional?Most fund accounting software companies will offer assistance in bringing inyour data to the new system. (Of course, you will still need to provide yourdata to them.) Those who can help you with this service are familiar withtheir system and can provide expertise and experience you do not have.Therefore it is highly recommended to use a professional service to help youbring in your data for you. If there are any issues along the way, aprofessional is much more likely to troubleshoot and fix it quickly. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CHAPTER9How Do You Know You are Making the Right Decision?Ask these questions to help ensure you are choosingthe right system – one that can handle the needs ofyour city for years to come. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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How Do You Know You are Making the Right Decision?Did we do a good job of finding out which fund accounting systems areavailable?Did we include all the decision makers, to the extent they need to beinvolved?Did we create and use a detailed list of the features needed in a fundaccounting system?Did we get a demo and test the software sufficiently? Does this system provide strong value, for the money we are paying? Does the company provide excellent customer support? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above questions, you should feel confidentin making the decision to purchase the new system. When your search is done and you and your team are ready to presentto council for approval, answer these questions. TheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware

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CenterPoint Fund Accounting and PayrollHandles the Needs of Those MunicipalitesOutgrowing General Accounting SoftwareSign up for your ownpersonal demoof CenterPoint FundAccounting andPayroll Today.The City of Cleveland has truly enjoyed working withthe phenomenal team that makes up CSA support aspart of our transition to using CenterPoint.CenterPoint is easy to use, customizable to yourCity’s needs and has improved our efficiencydramatically. We would not hesitate to recommendCenterPoint and CSA support to municipalities that arein the market for fund accounting and/or payrollsoftware. We absolutely love it!Dominique Green, City Clerk ,City of ClevelandFree DemofreeDemoTheCompleteGuideforSwitchingfromBasictoFundAccountingSoftware""

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