Presently there are many software choices for your business needs but which accounting software is right for the business today and into the future? Also are you in a niche business with unique operations that you feel may need to have custom-made accounting software?
Many organisations do not have the time or resources to do the research necessary for selecting the most suitable accounting software for their business. Yet it is essential that this component in their organisation is working efficiently to underpin all the other functional areas. Therefore before you go on-line, or to your local PC World or ask the advice of your accountant etc consider the following 5 tips for choosing accounting software for your organisation.
- 1)On Premise versus On-line
In recent years accounting software has followed the trend of other software applications with increasing numbers becoming available on-line. The wide spread and increased speed of Broadband has made running accounting software over the internet now entirely viable. There are many advantages with using on-line accounts such as, a lower cost monthly subscription model (no investment required for software licences and hardware), access on any device, or any location, data is always backed up and often held more securely. In addition to the benefits of on-line (cloud) accounting covered above, when you use online software, you never have to install software or updates, and there are no new versions to pay for every few years. You always have the latest technology at your fingertips.
- 2)Review the price and payment plans:
Most accounting software packages cost more than the retail price they have listed. There are added services that require payments above the purchase price, such services include: custom updates (updates to the invoice layout), customer service (both tech support and user tutorials), merchant services (connecting the accounting software to automated banking), etc. However, for businesses that wish to have the tools to do configuration on their own without costly fees for updates, there are accounting software packages that include these features out of the box.
Consider what you actually need for your business before committing to any contracts.
Your office team should be able to utilise the accounting software without having to pay a third party for support, and also have a means to import in their existing customer, supplier inventory and general ledger records from their existing accounting system.
- 3)Download several demos to assess user friendliness and test drive the features available:
Test-drive different software packages. It is a great way to see what is available currently in the market. Take notes while navigating through the demos, the end result should give a list of attributes you would like to have and others you don’t. Most reputable accounting software packages have 30-day trials, but it would be wise not to use the demo for any actual bookkeeping.
- 4)Get feedback from your office staff to share their experiences with the accounting software they have used in the past:
If you have accounts staff, ask them which accounting software they have used before and which do they prefer. Otherwise, if you don’t have experienced accounts staff, ask your accountant which software they use. Keep in mind that most experience could be with legacy accounting packages installed on site but they could still provide guidance on the functionality to expect. Note that many accountancy practises are evolving to work with their client in a more advisory role through the use of on-line accounting software. This model allows the accounting software do the ‘accounting’ work and the accountants then with access on-line overview the business accounts. The result is a lower cost from accountants since they have less accounting work to do, as well as current accounts visibility for the business. In summary when purchasing accounting software your accounting staff or accountant’s involvement and experience is invaluable, and will help keep to a minimum the costs to train and implement a new accounting system.
- 5) Compare the accounting software’s capacity and compare to the company’s current and future needs:
Do you have one office or several? Do you have accounts staff or an Accountant? Depending on the size of your company today as well as potentially tomorrow, your accounting software should accommodate these demands. Whether it is the need to have remote access from various geographical areas in the future to having enough licenses today for each staff member who needs to work with the software; these criteria should be met with the software you buy or have a succession plan for when your business grows. Also do you need the flexibility to have your accounting system customised for your organisation or integrated with other line of business applications?
Once again there is no right or wrong solution; however, be aware of your needs today versus the growing demands for tomorrow. Research several accounting software packages before you make your decision, though be wary of paying large sums upfront for on premise accounting software unless you are sure it is very suitable for your organisation. Choose an on-line accounting package that has been built from the start as web based and not a traditional on-premise package that is now rebadged as available on-line. Remember with on-line accounting software don’t worry if you feel you may need to change in the future as most reputable products have an export facility to output your data in a standard format that can be used by other accounting applications.