The software component of an AIS is the computer programs used to store, retrieve, process, and analyze the company's financial data. Before there were computers, an AIS was a manual, paper-based system, but today, most companies are using computer software as the basis of the AIS. Small businesses might use Intuit's Quickbooks or Sage's Sage 50 Accounting, but there are others. Small to mid-sized businesses might use SAP's Business One. Mid-sized and large businesses might use Microsoft's Dynamics GP, Sage Group's MAS 90 or MAS 200, Oracle's PeopleSoft or Epicor Financial Management.
Quality, reliability, and security are key components of effective AIS software. Managers rely on the information it outputs to make decisions for the company, and they need high-quality information to make sound decisions.
AIS software programs can be customized to meet the unique needs of different types of businesses. If an existing program does not meet a company's needs, the software can also be developed in-house with substantial input from end-users or can be developed by a third-party company specifically for the organization. The system could even be outsourced to a specialized company.
For publicly-traded companies, no matter what software program and customization options the business chooses, Sarbanes-Oxley regulations will dictate the structure of the AIS to some extent. This is because SOX regulations establish internal controls and auditing procedures with which public companies must comply.