1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Accounting takes an important role in operating an organization. Every business must keep track of financial information that relates to its business activities. It also has numerous processes; some simple, others complex and burdensome. But as the business grows, acquires new customers, enters new markets and keeps pace with constant changes in information technology, companies need to maintain highly accurate and up-to-date accounting, inventory and statutory records (Igbaria et al, 1997). With a substantial increase in the volume of accounting transactions and increase in exposure of information to errors due to complexity of these accounting systems, there was a need for a system which could store and process accounting data with increased speed, storage, and processing capacity. This led to the development and introduction of accounting software packages (Igbaria et al, 1997).
Accounting software describes a type of application software that records and processes accounting transactions within functional modules such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and trial balance. It functions as an accounting information system. It may be developed in-house by the organization using it, may be purchased from a third party, or may be a combination of a third-party application software package with local modifications (Wikipedia, 2016). Accounting software may be on-line based, accessed anywhere at anytime with any device which is Internet enabled, or may be desktop based. It varies greatly in its complexity and cost. The market has been undergoing considerable consolidation since the mid-1990s, with many suppliers ceasing to trade or being bought by larger groups.
In many cases, implementation of accounting software (i.e. the installation and configuration of the system at the client) can be a bigger consideration than the actual software chosen when it comes down to the total cost of ownership for the business. Most midmarket and larger applications are sold exclusively through resellers, developers and consultants. Those organizations generally pass on a license fee to the software vendor and then charge the client for installation, customization and support services. Clients can normally count on paying roughly 50–200% of the price of the software in implementation and consulting fees.
With the advent of faster computers and internet connections, accounting software companies have been able to create accounting software paid for on a monthly recurring charge instead of a larger upfront license fee. The rate of adoption of this new business model has increased steadily to the point where legacy players have been forced to come out with their own online versions. Cloud accounting software seems to more rapidly adopted by areas where prices are generally higher due to higher shipping costs and price discrimination practices (Chau, 2001).
The use of accounting software will shorten the data processing time that usually takes a longer time if it is done manually and processing can be accelerated significantly and with a better level of accuracy. American institute of Certified Public Accountant (AICPA) has created a new certificate of Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP). The CITP is certification for the accountants who have a broad knowledge in the field of technology and understand how the information system technology can be used in a variety of organizations. This reflects the AICPA recognition of the importance of information technology systems in relation to accounting (Agarwal & Prasad, 1997).
An accounting student is required to be able to follow information technology developments because by understanding and knowing the technology progress and development, students can implement the accounting information system technology, which is expected to make the student more competent, especially in the field of information systems technology. Accounting students are required to become competent accountants, for example, in the field of information systems technology. This is supported by the number of companies that expect accounting graduates to have a good knowledge of accounting, which is supported with specific expertise (soft skills) in the information systems technology field, such as accounting software.