Around a decade ago, it used to be that maintaining “the books” for a business was literally a paper-based process, involving a thick paper ledger, lots of columns, and a pen to record a business’ essential financial data.
In the digital age, however, businesses of all sizes, be it a small one or a thriving one, can benefit from a wide variety of business accounting software products on the market.
In the last few weeks, we discussed how online accounting software can help you get paid faster, can help eliminate the clutter of spreadsheets in your business and can ultimately help increase the value of your business.
But finding this accounting software for your business can be a challenge, especially with the recent explosion of tech products targeted towards accountants and business owners.
In order to choose a business accounting software program, you need to understand some business accounting basics, take a good look at your business and its needs, and assess the products available today.
That might seem like a daunting task, but worry not! I am here to guide you through the tough task of choosing a cloud-accounting software so that you can ultimately take make a well-informed decision and grow your business.
The first step you need to take in choosing accounting software for your business is to undertake a good analysis, which will address both your accounting and financial needs.
It should be broad, exploring both obvious questions and ones that really make you think. Take your time with this important step, since the last thing you want is to have to repeat this process within the next few months of years. Get some help before you buy anything.
To find the best accounting software for your business, carefully consider how and where you want to use it, and if anyone else will use the system.
Most accounting software products allow you to invite other users to the system and control the data they can see and the tasks they can access.
For instance, you may wish to give your business partner and accountant full access while only allowing your employees to use the system to track their time and invoice customers.
If you own more than one business, you may want accounting software that supports multiple small businesses under one account.
Most businesses today are using a cloud-based software, so that they can access their finances anytime, anywhere from any computer or mobile with internet access.
What features do you want within your accounting software? Some business owners need the most basic features, such as simply sending and receiving invoices. Other business owners have more complex needs for setting up online banking feeds, integrating payment gateways and inventory management. You will want to find an accounting software that meets your needs for these features.
You will run into problems using your accounting software at some point. There might be times when your accounting software updates and the new update makes less sense to you.
There will also be situations where you would want a new feature to be added to the software you are using and would want to connect with the customer support of that business.
To breeze through such situations, you should always take into consideration an accounting platform that offers round-the-clock experienced support staff that is knowledgeable, reliable and friendly.
Now that you finally know what to ask yourself when you’re in the market for an accounting software, I bet the task doesn’t seem so challenging anymore.
But to help you further, I’ve prepared a simple yet effective 5-step plan you can use and select your next accounting software.
1. Create your wishlist
Find out what exactly what need to get your job done. Is it invoicing? Is it inventory management tool? Is it an overall accounting suite? Once you understand your accounting needs, make a list of it and keep it handy.
2. Finalize your budget
Assess your finances and have a clear idea as to how much you can spend on an accounting platform. This will help filter out most of your options.
3. Research, shortlist
Now that your budget is finalized, make use of your new best friend Google. Google should be the first point where you should be starting your research. You can also make use of software comparison sites like SoftwareSuggest and read the review and testimonials of the existing users online at helpful forums such as Quora.
4. Schedule a demo
Once you have the alternatives shortlisted, visit the software provider’s website and request for a demo. Over the demo, make sure you ask and get answers to all questions related to your requirements. Read the FAQs, support articles and if you are still skeptical, arrange a few more demo. Most software providers would gladly give you demo till your queries are resolved.
5. Take a trial
Always take a trial before subscribing or purchasing any service, finance related or otherwise. When you are taking the trial, enter few dummy transactions, create a few dummy invoices and check the accuracy of your final reports. If everything is satisfying to you, you are all set.
There you have it, folks! The search for an accounting software for your business ends here and today.
You’ve talked to many people, and you’ve read vendor literature and third-party reviews. You have used a few of the programs, or a least had a tour of the software on your own screen in the form of demos.
So what is the deciding factor?
Well, that’s up to you. Prioritize your needs. analyze them and make sure the software you choose meets most, if not all, of the features that are important to you at the cost that is most viable to your business.
There is no ‘best’ accounting software out there, but with due diligence and research, you will surely land on the one that’s best for your business.