A far cry from the days of entering data into spreadsheets, today’s business accounting software platforms can help business stakeholders report on financial and operational information with just a few mouse clicks. They can manage a wide range of functions such as generating invoices and tracking expenses, payroll, inventory and more – and boost efficiency in the office and your business bottom line.
Ok, I’m interested – but how do I know which one to choose?
With so many products on offer these days, it can be tricky to identify which is the right one for you. The following tips should be considered and discussed with your accountant before you proceed to purchasing a product:
What do I need my accounting software to do?
Have a think about the functions you can’t do without. These could be things like:
- Profit and loss reporting
- Debtor and creditor management
- Integration to payment gateway, for online receipt of invoice payments
- Integration with Point of Sale (POS) or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
- Expense tracking
- Finance journals
- Asset management tools (for depreciation calculations)
- Tax or Bas transacting and reporting
Off the shelf, or customised for me?
Off-the-shelf solutions like Xero or MYOB offer you a wide range of functions, usually at a competitive price. Review each product offering to see if it incorporates the list of critical functions you have come up with, and be aware that off-the-shelf products may not be customisable in the short term. A big plus to choosing an off-the-shelf product is that you can be confident of finding other people who have had experience in using it, either in a user group or an online forum. Your accountant may have had experience with the platform, and may be able to assist you to become familiar with it.
A customised product will be tailored to your exact needs and will allow you to customise functions as your business grows. The cost of a custom solution is usually a fair bit higher than an off-the-shelf product, and you need to consider whether this is sustainable for you. In addition, you may need to invest heavily in training to ensure your staff can use the product effectively, so a sound understanding of what you want to achieve and how you want to do it is a must.
Should I look at cloud-based software?
Lots of products are hosted in the cloud these days, for many great reasons:
- Your software is always up to date, no downloading and applying upgrades
- There is usually an accompanying mobile or tablet app, so you always have access to your data on the go
- Data is backed up regularly, meaning you don’t have a heavy investment in infrastructure or off-site data services.
A good reason to consider a desktop product rather than cloud based is if you have a poor internet service at your office site. When using a cloud-based solution, online access to your data is only as good as your internet connection.
How easy is it to set up, and do I get any training?
Depending on the level of complexity of your new software, you may need to invest a good chunk of time in setting it up. Putting accurate and relevant data in right from the beginning ensures the quality of the information you can report on later, so this step is crucial. Check to see if the purchase price of the product includes time with a Trainer or a Business Consultant who specialises in your industry.
What else should I consider?
There are many factors that can influence your decision to purchase an accounting package, and we recommend going through this list to see what else might be applicable to you:
- Can it support the number of users that you need?
- If you have more than one company, will it support multiple entities?
- How safe is your data, and how is it stored?
- Will your data be backed up, and can you access a copy if you need to?
- Does the application have a dedicated Support team if you need it?
- Do they provide any online training resources, e.g. webinars or recordings?
- What is the ongoing cost of the solution – is it a one-off cost, or a monthly subscription?
- What are the technical requirements to run the software, and will your current infrastructure support it?
- Can I get a free trial of the software to see if I like it?
Take your time to work through the above questions, as this is an important business decision. Choosing the right software will save you time and money in the long run!
Author – Kate Hay
Customer Service and Technical Support