Accounting has come a long way in the past few decades. It wasn’t all that long ago when the most reliable method in keeping track of income and expenses involved a paper ledger and pencil. With the arrival of new technology, computers have taken the work out of figuring out the numbers and bookkeeping has become much easier as a result.
With the creation of accounting software, any size business can use it and features include far more than calculating the bottom line. These software programs offer options that include forecasting, inventory management and so much more. But how do you choose the right one? Here are some tips.
1. What Do You Need and What Are Your Skills?
Although accounting software makes the bookkeeping services or task much easier, it also helps to have the right kind of program. If your business is a small retail store or a giant corporation, specific software programs exist to fit those unique needs.
There are also programs available that are designed to meet the needs of specific industries as well. This is why it is so important to research the various types of software in order to find the right fit.
Then there is the skill part. While software will make the job of tracking income and expenses easier, it will require time to input the data. The right program will not be beyond your knowledge base or ability.
2. Consider Cloud Applications
Depending on your business size and the demands from accounting, cloud applications offer a great alternative. They also provide several great advantages. The top ones would be that you can access your data from anywhere and software licensing fees would not be an added expense.
Regular updates would also be taken care of at the cloud server level and you can use any device with a cloud option. Even if you choose not to rely entirely on cloud accounting, many software programs will integrate with cloud-based business management tools making it even easier to work at the office or away from it.
3. Establish and Work Within a Budget
As important a decision on updating or purchasing bookkeeping software is, it is as important to have a budget in mind for the added expense. The great thing is that these programs come in all kinds of sizes tailored to fit virtually any possible budget from small to large.
The general rule of thumb is that all-purpose applications are the most affordable but they may not have all the features you require. The more specialized the software – with several extras – the more it will cost. You also want to avoid having a low budget when your business requires a medium budget program. A good choice that works well across the board is ZipBooks. It is affordable and fits many size business applications.
4. Do You Want to Super-Size That?
Add-ons are extra features that come with different accounting software for business programs. Some of them are probably not going to add much extra to your bookkeeping department where others will result in a serious enhancement. Some of the add-ons to watch for include:
- Remote access
- Online payments
- Integration with eCommerce software
- Tax software compatibility
The possibilities are endless although this is a rather short list of potential add-ons. Just be sure to be able to separate add-ons from software features. The features you require in order for your accounting department to function better than it has been is your main priority. Some add-ons may already come with the specific program your select, so it is important to get a complete picture of the capabilities of your new software program long before you begin exploring add-ons that may end up being redundant.
5. Don’t Go Solo
Unless you are the bookkeeper in your business, deciding on a new accounting program should include the input of the accounting department that will be using it. As logical as that sounds, it is easy to just go ahead and make the selection and hope for the best.
The idea of getting your accounting department involved serves several purposes. It gives them valuable input into the changes coming to their department. It shows that you respect their opinion, skills and role within your company. It also means that a program that your bookkeeper approves or agrees will be the best selection will become a program that person will look forward to learning and using which will increase their skills and workplace value.
Take Your Time
Accounting software for business is not rare. In fact, thanks to the vast selection of products, any sized business should be able to find the right program to fit their specific needs. But in order to find that perfect software program, you must follow a few simple steps.
The steps are designed to give you insight into how to define your accounting needs, the types of options available, the importance of keeping the purchase within a reasonable budget, the usefulness of various add-ons and the importance of getting others involved in the selection process.
Ultimately, all of this should take some time to determine. Rushing into this sort of business decision is not wise and could result in a purchase that won’t perform as well as one that was carefully selected to meet the needs of your business.
There is no denying that any kind of bookkeeping computer program will make the task of recording and tracking revenues and spending much easier. However, considerable thought has to go into the process. You wouldn’t just walk onto a car lot and buy the first vehicle you saw without doing some research and factoring in your needs and what you could afford.
The very same principles would come into play when shopping for a new or updating existing computer accounting programming. This list is meant to give you a basic outline of the top five things to consider before making that business accounting software purchase.