Choosing The Best Accounting Software for Small Business in 2018
- July 23, 2018
- Posted by: Quarles Business and Financial Strategists
- Category: Tax and Accounting
Choosing the best accounting software for your small business can seem like an incredibly frustrating and daunting task. There is a lot to consider when it comes to making the decision.
What should you look?
What do you need the software to do?
How can you choose the right software if you don’t know what you are looking?
The good news is; with this guide you can start asking the right questions and make an informed decision about which accounting software is best for your small business.
Let’s work on making your bookkeeping life much easier.
1. Is the accounting software built for my industry?
Depending on your industry, you may have specific requirements for your accounting software. While this isn’t the case for most of us, it is important to consider the requirements of your industry before you get started.
The construction and not-for-profit industries, for example, may have special needs due to the nature of their business.
If you own a construction business, you are most likely dealing with a large budget, numerous costs and expenses and a tight profit margin, not to mention sub-contractors. This might require a more complex program with more features.
Not-for-profits often deal with money that is not theirs to use, such as donations. This high level of accounting responsibility and financial regulation needs software that accommodates these needs.
Make sure you do a little bit of research on your industry so you know what to consider when choosing the best accounting software for you.
2. What usability features does the accounting software have?
No two companies are the same, and neither is the way they want to manage their money. You need accounting software that allows you to access it in the ways that you like.
Here are a few features you might be looking for:
- Multiple users – Most accounting software allows you to invite multiple users and control what they can see. If you have a business partner or someone else who manages the accounts, you might want to give them full access. However, you may also want to allow your employees to enter the system to track their hours or access invoices.
- Multi-business support – Are you managing multiple businesses or accounts? You’ll need to find software that supports multiple businesses so you can avoid paying extra set up costs.
- Accessibility – If you choose cloud-based accounting software you can access your account anywhere with internet access – but is it also mobile accessible? If you are often working on the go, you might benefit from software that comes with an accompanying mobile app.
Look for accounting software that gives you the functionality you need for your unique business structure.
3. What accounting software features does your small business need?
There are a range of accounting software features available, from basic accounting to more advanced and specialised features.
Consider what you need from your accounting software – what are the main things that you need to track?
Start with the basic features, such as invoicing, tracking income and expenses, financial reporting and customer management. You may also need records management, time tracking and assistance with purchase ordering depending on your business.
Next, consider the more advanced and industry-specific features. These could include timesaving automation, tax preparation and third-party integration with other programs and services to name a few. If you have needs that are more specific or difficult tasks that you perform regularly, you might need more than a basic package.
Make a list of the features you need to manage your finances properly and efficiently.
We know how frustrating small business bookkeeping can be, so find a program that makes it a little more bearable!
4. Is the accounting software easy to use?
While there will be a learning stage for each product, you should feel like you can get the hang of it pretty quickly. The accounting software’s interface should be simple and easy to navigate.
Hop on their website and have a look at the tutorials and educational content they have available to get a better idea of the program.
Powerful, do-it-all accounting software is useless if you can’t figure out how to use it or have to spend a huge amount of time learning the ins and outs of the program.
Find something that looks straightforward and suits your level of knowledge.
5. What kind of technical support and customer service is provided?
Although this might not be a necessity, having good technical support and customer service can make things easier.
Sometimes you might not be able to figure out how something works or you’ll run into a problem that you can’t fix. Is the vendor going to help you?
Most vendors do offer a range of support solutions, including email, phone and online support. This may be a free service if you purchase the program or it could be part of a technical support plan as an additional cost.
Check out forums and reviews to see how other customers have rated their customer service and technical support.
6. Is there a free trial available?
A great way to gain a better understanding of how the accounting software works is to start a free trial. Once you’ve found something that looks great on paper, it’s time to take it for a test run!
Whatever program you decide on, we can help show you the ropes and set it up for you. The ability to have this demonstration is critical for your future accounting success.
If you think you’ve found the best accounting software for you, book a free consultation and we’ll show you how to get started!
7. What is the total cost?
While price is not the first factor you should consider (although you may want it to be), it is still important to consider the different pricing options and total costs associated with each accounting software.
Cost can vary due to a number of factors, such as the features available and number of users supported. There can also be additional costs including upgrade fees and technical support packages.
Most accounting software is subscription based, usually charged on a monthly basis. Sometimes you can get a discount from your accountant or if you are willing to pay annually.
When considering your budget, you should focus on the value of the software and whether it fully addresses your needs, rather than simply its price.
While it may be tempting to opt for a cheaper option, you should not discount the importance of properly managing your finances.
Take a good look at what each accounting package offers and the value of the accounting software.
8. What measures are in place to protect my data?
You want to make sure your data is backed up and secure. This includes personal information about you, your employees and your customers, as well as company data.
You may also have extra requirements regarding data security depending on your industry. An example of this is the healthcare industry.
Whatever your security needs are, you’ll need an accounting software program that keeps your data safe. A few areas to look at include data theft, data alteration and data loss.
Not every program comes with sufficient data protection. Make sure you find a program that matches your needs.
9. Is there room to grow?
You may be a small business with a handful of employees and clients now, but what about 3 years from now?
If you are successful in growing your business, what you need from your accounting software will likely change.
Look for a program that can keep up with your growth, by accommodating an increased number of users, data and transaction. Ask vendors about any limitations with your accounting package.
Choosing the right accounting software for your small business is an individualised process; you know your business and its needs more than anyone.
We hope that these points helped you understand what to look for when considering your needs and evaluating the different programs available.
If you can’t decide on a program, we recommend Xero. Why Choose Xero?
If you are interested in getting started with Xero, or converting to Xero, come talk to us and we’ll show you how.
For easier bookkeeping, check out our Tax & Accounting Packages.