Selecting The Right Accounting Software for Your Business

Let’s face it, we can all benefit from accounting software in our business. The shoebox full of receipts and closet full of other financial junk just isn’t going to get it done. The accounting software your business chooses is a very important choice.  It will record transactions, will estimate your income taxes, payroll taxes, can handle your purchasing and inventory, lets you know your bank account balance, and can give you the ability to pay your employees.

In addition, good accounting software allows you to send invoices and manage receivables, lets you see and analyze sales trends, and give you the ability to generate balance sheets and income statements.  All critical components to managing your business effectively.

There are plenty of options out there when it comes to accounting software for your business, but here are a few questions to ask yourself before you just grab something because its popular

Will we be using this in 3-5 years? – If you’re currently looking for an accounting solution, you might have kept your financial information in that shoebox or closet but hopefully at a minimum on a series of spreadsheets in the past. Now think about how often the spreadsheets went from a business solution, to a problem. It is easy to outgrow an accounting software, especially when your business is in its infant stages. Make sure the software you choose can grow with you and the cost of scaling services is manageable.  We offer a great list of software to get you started – Email us today!

Will it interface with other software your business uses?– Does your company already use a point of sale system, tax preparation software, or a CRM? The accounting software you choose should be able to interface with them, or better yet, the current software may have an accounting upgrade available.  The more you can roll into one piece of software the better.  Depending on your size of business you may want to explore an ERP system.

Will the software offer customized options for my industry? – Many software options, like Quickbooks for instance, are a one-size-fits-all solution. This isn’t a bad thing at all, but if your business is in a specialized market such as a restaurant or law firm, financial management software that is customized to the unique demands of your industry may be a better option.  When it comes to customized solutions beware that you aren’t dumping money into a customization that really isn’t needed.  Consultants and software companies are quick to convince you that you need it to make that extra buck.

How many users will you need? – Most accounting software solutions allow for a few logged in users at a time and charge to open up additional user profiles. The default may work for now, but as your business expands, you should be sure you can afford the cost of adding users. Do you have the ability to give your customers and clients access to things like 1099’s and invoices?

How easy is it to use? – You shouldn’t need to be one of the world’s greatest financial minds to be able to pull an accounts receivables report from your accounting software. Pay attention to the user interface and how it feels. Are you able to use the software on your mobile device?  Ask for software demo’s, a good software company will offer a demo and you should be able to play with it and make sure that you are comfortable.

How secure is the software? – What security measures do you need to already have in place to keep your data (and your customer’s data) secure? How is information backed up? Is there an option to use the software with cloud-based computing?  Data breaches are a daily occurrence, beware, and protect your business!

Does it leave an adequate audit trail? – Knowing the source of a transaction and being able to trace revenue is important in case your business is ever audited. On the other hand, the lack of an audit can look suspicious.  At MCDA we have been consulted for numerous forensic accounting audits and you would not believe how many businesses out there do not have an adequate audit trail.  Again, protect your business!

What kind of customer service and user support do the software publishers provide? – Inevitably, there will be a feature that doesn’t work properly, or there is something you will need to unlock – meaning you either need to become an expert yourself, or call one and have them provide support.  Another very important question to ask is if they outsource their customer support.  Some companies will outsource to a call center and they have to “escalate problems” creating a severe delay in providing you the support you need.

What is the total cost? – When you buy the base software package, are you buying everything your business needs, or will you need to pay for additional features?  Some base programs may be free, but if you find you’re having to add too many mission-critical features, there may be a solution available that is, overall, cheaper and more complete. Also, is it a subscription-based package?

There are a lot of questions that need to be answered to find the accounting software solution that best fits your business. Customized accounting software will pay off greatly with tighter control of your finances and the ability to do more with your financial information. MCDA may help you answer these questions and assess your accounting software needs to get the best solution for your money. Call us today for a free consultation!

 

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