As I mentioned in Part 1, publishing is a deceptively complex business. I touched on a few of the general considerations in choosing a royalty software solution for your company in Part 1, from general function areas to investigate, to how to vet a royalty software manufacturer.
This article will focus specifically on the royalty accounting functions of a royalty management system, and explore how you can evaluate a few of the more technical functions of royalty accounting software, in a bit more detail.
Since not all royalty accounting software systems have the same basic capabilities, you will obviously need to choose a solution that supports your company’s needs. To help you in finding the best royalty management software, I will list some general features offered by good royalty software systems. Of course, this is not meant to be an all inclusive list of every question you’ll want to ask, but rather a framework to help you develop your own specification list.
Ability to Quickly and Easily Investigate Artist and Publisher Questions:
It will be important to be able parse your data in many different ways, including ways which you may not yet have anticipated. Does the royalty software system you are considering allow you to:
- View sales by authors/ID/title
- View royalty calculations by authors/contract
- Identify all titles for an author
- View all statements and payment histories for an authors
- Export research into spreadsheets
Flexibility in Accounting:
Even if your firm isn’t subject to the stringent accounting requirements of Sarbanes Oxley (see our article here), strength and flexibility in your royalty accounting functions is extremely important in running your business today, but also for preparing for future change and growth. A good royalty accounting system will include capabilities for:
- Cross Collateralization
- Ability to pay on cash or accrual basis
- Ability to withhold reserves against returns
(Including reserves against all sales versus sales of specific revenue types)
-Including: unlimited advances, unlimited types of advances (and other expenses against which royalties are applied)
-Ability to pay directly through your royalty software system
-Ability to specify tax information
-Ability to make payment to a third party
- Automated Integration
-Automated weekly/monthly/daily payout of advances
-Ability to feed royalty payment vouchers directly to AP
-Ability to cut checks directly from the royalty software
-Ability to designate “remit” payees (i.e. agents, heirs, children, etc.)
-Automated vendor/Authors feed from AP
-Store AP vendor IDs
- Ability to manage payments by payment window (i.e. 30, 60, 90, 120 days)
- Multiple addresses for each Authors
- Supports vendors on hold
- Minimum payment thresholds
Additional features to look for, depending on their importance to your business, are:
Sales Integration: Some royalty accounting software systems will directly integrate with your existing sales systems. If you use a CRM system such as Salesforce, check to see if the royalty software you are considering will directly import and export data into it.
Contract Migration: If you have a large number of contracts, it may be worthwhile to find a royalty software system that will directly import this data, including past payments, customer/supplier info, and other pertinent data.
Customizations: Even you don’t currently need any customized features, it makes sense to ask about future customizations. Ask about what any related costs would be, plus what the turnaround time would be for implementing customizations.
Statement Design: Having a number of options for managing or viewing statements is a fairly standard feature of any royalty software system. But because having statements available in the way that you or your clients want is so important, it’s a good idea to ask some general questions about this. Ask about various file formats, file sizes, the inclusion of graphics or graphs, compatibility with mobile devices, etc.