How to choose the right accounting software for your business's needs
29th October 2018
Gone are the days of paper accounting records piling up in the corner. Business accounting software gives you access to key information with ease, and makes reporting a simple task rather than a chore. The right kind of accounting software helps small businesses track their financial health and identify potential problems early - avoiding serious mistakes and being caught unaware.
These days, accounting software solutions let you manage as much or as little as you need to within the package. As well as generating invoices and financial statements, you can also opt for features that split bills by project, track expenses, pay your staff and much more.
Accounting software also saves you the hassle of learning advanced bookkeeping practices, with built-in reports and processes to provide the data you'll need from the information you record.
With so much on offer though, it can be tricky to work out which is the right accounting software for your small business's needs. Here are 7 things to think about when choosing your accounting package.
How to choose the right accounting software
1. What do you want to do?
Sometimes the biggest stumbling block to picking your accounting software is working out what you need it to do. You'll have an idea of tasks you already do that you'd like automated or streamlined. However, you may not know what other features you can merge into your accounting software until you start looking at the options. Start thinking about what kind of tasks your bookkeeping software could do for you as you research your options. Small businesses might want the following:
- Have payroll functionality.
- Allow multiple currencies.
- Enable work across different countries and appropriate tax rules and regulations.
- Provide flexible accounting periods.
- Manage various cost centres and departments.
- Integrate stock lists.
2. Who needs to access your bookkeeping software?
Depending on the size of your business, you may only need a couple of people to have access to your accounting software, or you may need multiple users. If you run several businesses, you may even need software that can handle multiple businesses within one login.
With multiuser access you can ensure that everyone at director level can see what's going on, but leave the day-to-day entry and invoicing to somebody else. You may want to find a package that allows you to give users different levels of permission, so you can control who is able to authorise payments or see sensitive information such as staff salary data.
It might not be only people within your immediate business who need access, if you employ an accountant or bookkeeper outside of your payroll staff, you may want them to have access to certain parts of the software too.
3. Are you limited to an office?
When you choose your accounting software, it's important to think about how it will be used, as well as which features you need. If you have a full administrative office, it may only need to work in one location. However, if you're managing the day-to-day from client sites or from home, you'll need to know you can use your bookkeeping software from anywhere. Likewise, if you do work with an accountant and want them to have access, they need to be able to login from their own premises.
Cloud-based systems make this option a reality, and some accounting software programs offer mobile apps you can use to make quick payments or get an overview of your data at a glance.
4. How much work do you want it to do for you?
It might be that you have several businesses you work with on a regular basis. If that's the case, you might also be making regular payments to them, or invoicing them at set intervals. Some accounting software lets you set up auto-generated invoices, removing one recurring task from your calendar.
Certain packages allow you to generate an invoice directly from a quote, removing the need for double-entry and cutting out time spent re-keying the crucial data.
You might also want email alerts set up, so certain members of your accounting department know when payments are going in or out of your account, or to remind you that a task is now due.
5. Does it need to integrate with your existing systems?
At a basic level, most small businesses will want their accounting program to integrate with Microsoft Office to make manipulating or sharing financial data, such as at board meetings or with investors, as easy as possible.
However, your business may also benefit from having accounting software that integrates with your CRM, e-commerce or inventory systems to save you time when it comes to re-entry and keep you systems and reports as up-to-date as possible.
6. Tax reporting and financial statements
As well as accounting reports that work for your internal team, having accounting software that provides essential reports for your accountant and for the tax office can make life much more simple for your finance team.
Unless you're keen to be extra hands-on, picking a system that provides instant and standardised reports should be high on your list. Some accounting software packages provide ready-made financial statements such as your profit and loss report, for example, or export your data in formats compatible with BAS requirements. Your accountant might be able to tell you what would be most valuable to you.
7. Software support and back-up
If you're not so technically savvy, bookkeeping software that comes with a support package might be essential for you. Alongside providing help using the software, a support team may also offer a maintenance package and install essential upgrades as legislation and technology continue to change. You'll also want to know that they'll provide training as and when changes to the package do occur, and are available during your working hours.
The ABM offer
The core system of Advanced Business Manager (ABM) combines the principles of accounting software with extra features that make your life easier. With email alerts to make sure you never miss a trick, a mobile app and a comprehensive support package amongst just some of the features we offer, ABM can help your small business manage your money effectively.
For a free no-obligation demo, or to talk to our friendly team, contact us today.
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