Using accounting software is inevitable if you want to keep proper financial records of your business. You need proper financial records so that you make informed business decisions or for submitting taxes etc. Finding the right accounting software package can be a difficult task given that there are a lot of accounting package to choose from. So, how do you go about choosing an accounting software package for your business? I have made a list of things to consider when you choose accounting software for your business. The information is more useful to those organisations that are small (from 0-9 employees), do not have an IT department and do not have or cannot afford full time or qualified accountant.
There are two types of software to choose from. You can either choose desktop software or cloud/online software. Desktop software is the one that you install on your computer. You can only access the software on the computer it was installed. Cloud or online software is the one you access via a web browser and you access it on any device such laptop, tablet or smartphone as long as there is an internet connection. Here are some of the things to consider;
The software must be affordable. You have to consider your budget and the cost of the software. You do not have an infinite budget and you therefore want the cost to be affordable. Cost of desktop software usually includes purchase price e.g. $199.96 for QuickBooks Pro 2013 and sometimes annual fees or annual upgrade fees. Cost of cloud software is usually charged at per month for each user. Prices for cloud software can be as little as free as in the case of Wave Accounting or $29 per month for Sage One.
The software must be easy to use. Hiring a qualified accountant can be costly and sometimes not necessary. You may therefore need to hire someone who is less qualified person to do the bookkeeping. A less qualified person can be able to prepare a proper set of financial records provided that the software is simple to use and understand. All you may need is one day training and you are good to go.
The software must be secure. Security is very important especially when you use an online/cloud software application. You don’t want to lose precious financial shareit for pc information to hackers etc. How do you know that the software is secure? Well, look out for things like 256 bit SSL encryption, TRUSTe certified privacy, VeriSign secure etc.
The software must be packed with features you need. Most software come packed with a lot of features. There is always a danger of paying for features that you do not need and therefore cannot use. As a small business owner, you are likely to need a software that will let you invoice your customers, capture bills, import your bank statements (so that you do not manually capture them) and print reports (such as balance sheet, general ledger, trial balance, vat report, age analysis, income statement, debtors ledger and creditors ledger).
There must be plenty of support. You want software that is backed with support. It comes a time when you have forgotten how to capture an invoice or printout a certain report and you need help fast. Support is always vital in those situations, so you need to check if your provider provides support.
The software provider must be a going concern. By this I mean that the provider must be able to stay operational for many years to come. The provider must therefore have a strong financial backing and must show commitment. You really do not want a situation you entrust someone with your financial information and only to lose access to it because the software provider is no longer operational.