How to find the right business accounting software

Achieve success for your business with the right accounting software.

Accurate accounting is vital to the health of any business operation, so selecting the most appropriate accounting software is important. Your business needs will determine the price, and type of software you need to invest in. When choosing your fit, there are certain factors to keep in mind:

  • The cost
  • The volume of transactions it can handle
  • User-friendly qualities of the software
  • Specific training required to use it
  • Systems required to run the software
  • Data security

This guide will help you find the right accounting software for your business.

Easy steps to determine the needs of your business

Before you start researching accounting software, make a list of all of the basic practices that are required in your accounting department. These will usually include payroll, cost accounting and inventory management, but there may be others too.

Different software packages will cater to different needs, so when researching keep in mind that some will focus on small businesses and others enterprise-level businesses. By understanding these specialties you can focus on the software that will work better for you.

Before comparing your options, you should also list your most important business requirements. Consider how many users you'll need, whether the software needs to have tax capabilities, and if you require access from mobile devices or to integrate with a third-party device. Your most important requirements of the accounting software are the ones that will bring your business operations to a halt when they aren't fully met.

Compare business accounting software

  • Cost vs affordability

Many businesses try to justify the cost of their software by looking at the rich-feature set (the capabilities of the program). However, it's important to balance what you can afford and the likely return on investment (ROI) with a product that meets your business's most important needs – will you really use all those added extras?

The size of your business and the type of transactions it engages in will determine whether a free accounting solution will be enough or if you will need to invest in a more developed package. Keep in mind that free software packages tend to be very limited, and even the cheaper package options from most software companies won't cater for the needs of a growing business.

  • Access and portability

A number of software packages exist in the cloud. Some businesses can function with a basic set-up on one device that is manually run, while others will need a more integrated system that runs in the cloud with real-time updates.

If, for example, your business is mobile and you don't always have Internet access, you will need to consider an option that has powerful storage and efficient syncing capabilities. For systems that run entirely in the cloud, you will need a more comprehensive package that has advanced real-time syncing over multiple devices.

In terms of updates, some software will need to be manually updated to receive the latest features, while others will update automatically in the background. Most cloud services offer the latter.

  • The business accounting software learning curve

There's no point investing in a high-end software package if your employees can't use it. Compare the capabilities of your team and the user experience expected by the software. In some cases, an accounting background is required to use a program. If you outsource any of your accounting, keep in mind that the software solution you choose must be compatible with those systems.

Four tips for choosing the right solution

  • Don't bargain hunt

Stick to your budget when purchasing accounting software, but don't be cheap. You could end up doubling the expense if your underperforming bargain needs to be replaced in the near future.

  • Consider cloud-based software

These options might be a little more expensive but tend to be more flexible to business growth.

  • Remember your HR department

The software used by HR will need to be compatible with the software of the accounting department.

  • Does it have Point of Sale (POS) features?

A surprising number of software packages don't cater for POS integration. If you run a business that conducts a number of small transactions per day, POS integration is a must.

Which accounting software is right for you?

Remember that the most well-known solution isn't always the best one for your business. A good approach is to make a comprehensive summary of all suitable products, with pros and cons included for each. This helps to avoid choosing software just because it has the best market presence.

In the end, each business will have specific accounting needs that need to be met. By using the above approach you'll be able to identify those and find the right accounting software for your business.

Picture: Shutterstock

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