Tips for Choosing Small Business Accounting Software
March 19th, 2014 by Digithales
The accounting industry was forever changed when accounting software became available to the general public. People who performed accounting tasks no longer had to manually record and calculate their data and were spared spending tedious hours recording numbers and balancing the books. Accounting software took care of all the calculations in seconds. For the first time, business owners could use accounting software to track their company and personal business expenses, view spending histories, track money coming in and going out, as well as other tasks previously manually recorded by bookkeepers.
With a robust accounting software solution, you have the ability to run daily, monthly, quarterly and yearly reports that you can email or print and send out to your accountant. By communicating with your accountant about your accounting software package, you can discover which reports will be most helpful to them.
Accounting Software Features
While most accounting software packages will offer the same core features, there are differentials within software and your particular business may need certain features, so it is a good idea to review what you need and review software features. Most small business accounting software will feature the following:
- Manage an inventory
- Integrate with contact management systems like Outlook or Salesforce.com
- Credit card payments
- Payroll Information
- Tax Reporting
- Sales Management and Tracking
- Employee Expenses
- Reporting Capabilities
When choosing your software, referrals are a great way to find out about software. If you know of someone who uses a certain type, solicit their feedback. Online software reviews can be a great resource, but choose sources and read reviews carefully.
Top 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Purchasing Accounting Software
Which business processes take up the most of your time? Billing? Shipping? Make sure the accounting software you choose can handle these processes.
What reporting tools and capabilities would you like to see? Some software packages have better reporting capabilities than others.
What new features that your company is not currently implementing could save your company time and money? Some examples are electronic invoicing and electronic payments.
Do you need to have the software installed on your local network or can you manage your systems remotely in the cloud? This is an important question because there could be many boutique accounting solutions offered to business niches that are currently only available online.
Will your small business run better by utilizing accounting software? It will benefit you and your company more by going ahead and using accounting software even if you think your company is too small, rather than waiting until it is larger and harder to implement new processes.
More Key Questions to Keep in Mind When Reviewing Accounting Software Programs
Is the accounting software scalable?
If you plan on your business increasing in size, make sure the software is scalable and can handle growth or new needs. If it is good, you can always upgrade it whereas if you don’t purchase software that can grow, you will eventually need to convert to a different program, which could cause data problems.
Does the software support your banking system?
While most programs will support most banks, ensure that yours is covered. You want the ability to download your transactions which saves a lot of data entry time.
Know where you want to access your software from.
If you know you will only be accessing the software from a certain computer or location, desktop software will work for you. If you have multiple locations or access data from various wi-fi locations, secure web-based software is available. This type of software is great for multiple computers or locations.
Do you need restricted access capabilities feature?
If you will have more than one person accessing the software, make sure that the software has access restriction capabilities.
Remember to Figure Support into Software Budget
Even though most software these days come with an easy to use interface, it is inevitable you will need to call software technical support for a question or concern regarding the software. Make sure to review the company’s support costs and warranty features. Prices can range from free support offered for a specified period of time to a designated cost per phone call or email chargeable from the first time you use the software. Some companies offer monthly, quarterly or annual technical support subscriptions.
As an added tip, you can search online for user forums where you can post questions and receive answers back from the community. This is a good way to get a quick answer to a simple question and it can also give you a good indication of whether you will need to ask for advanced support from the company.
Don’t Buy More Than You Need
If you have a small business, standard accounting features may suit your company perfectly. While all of the additional features a software may offer will sound nice, if you don’t need it, don’t pay for it. A software program that can grow with you is essential, but a software package that has more than you need will end up costing you extra money for features never used.