If you do a Web search on DCAA compliant accounting software - among the search results - you will probably notice advertisements for add-ons to QuickBooks and other non-industry specific accounting software. These will (in theory) take your existing non-compliant software and make it DCAA ready through the use of a third-party, bolt-on software product that offers integration on some level. The benefit is that DCAA/DCMA compliance is quickly obtained without having to undergo an expensive and potentially time consuming financial system conversion. Or so you would be led to believe. The truth is that such add-on products cannot make your internal systems compliant, no matter how tightly integrated they may claim to be. This is because your accounting system also consists of your written accounting policies and procedures and the surrounding internal controls that you institute. These are as much a part of your overall compliance as your accounting software itself.
What the add-ons do not provide are the underlying structures and internal controls of your existing financial system. To wit, does your existing software feature a built-in project and job order subsystem to enable the definition of your contract statement of work by WBS element? Can you create project labor categories and billing rates, or track funding modifications, change orders, and CLINs? Does the add-on magically enforce the internal controls to prevent the deletion of reconciled entries, for instance, without a trace of an audit trail? Furthermore, have you considered that when the publisher of your non-compliant software makes changes to their General Ledger package as part of an update, such changes may “break” the add-on until its vendor releases an update (hot fix) in order to get it working again?
If your business desires the feature set to gain major efficiencies as a government contractor that go beyond attaining marginal DCAA compliance, then you should only consider a software package that was built from the top down for your industry, such as SYMPAQ. This way, you achieve out-of-the-box DCAA compliance and never have to concern yourself with the level of integration among its accounting modules. By investing in a project cost accounting software package designed for government contractors early on instead of taking the add-on route, you will avoid the Band-Aid path to compliance, and have a system in place with a feature set that goes far beyond what an add-on can do for your existing software.