You can save countless hours and speed up tasks with the right accounting software program. Rarely do we see companies use manual books for accounting anymore. Today’s fast-paced environment requires us to work faster and rely on computer programs to get things done without a hassle.
But finding an accounting software program isn’t easy. There may be many off-the-shelf programs which promise to streamline accounting processes, but not all of them may match your needs. Before you even go ahead to buy any program, study these tips and make your investment worthwhile:
1. Do Your Homework – Talk to People
Solely relying on online product reviews isn’t recommended. You should always start by doing a little market research and talking to people you know personally and on the professional front. You will be surprises at how many companies are currently using accounting software programs. Getting to understand their opinion on the program and its features can be of great use.
Alongside personal recommendations, you can search for leading accounting software companies, learn about their product offerings and so much more. Making a list of the top ten companies can help you shortlist your choices.
2. General accounting software or industry-specific
Don’t be confused, there are certain accounting software programs which are designed to meet specific industry needs. For example, construction and supply chain firms can select accounting programs which are specifically tailored to match their accounting practices. So, make sure you understand the types of accounting programs available in the market and whether you need a general program or something more specific.
3. It’s all about the features
When choosing an accounting software program, you need to consider the small and also the larger picture. In other words, accounting programs are not only limited to performing computations and calculating ratios, but should be able to give you useful insight on your company’s financial health.
You can start off by making a list of your accounting practices and problem areas. It is always helpful to know where your business lags and what processes are the core of problems. For example, most businesses complain of not being able to input accurate data in accounting books…in real-time, causing delay in reporting and balancing.
Now with a list of problem areas, you can move ahead and search for accounting features which are a must-have. Some of the features that your business may need are:
- Payroll management
- Invoice and billing management
- Expense management
- Accounts and bookkeeping
- Budgeting and reporting
Please remember that these are just a few of features that are commonly found in programs and can vary.
4. Flexibility and Agility
Don’t limit your business growth with the wrong kind of technology. How would it feel to end up with a heavily expensive software program which is rigid and can’t be updated unless you spend a fortune every time?
Some programs need to be updated regularly, some can be modified with new modules, and some offer no flexibility at all. You must invest in a program which can meet new demands and new requirements. So, check with the software providers, check all available versions and how much they charge for new updates.
5. Security and Safety
Financial data of your business can reveal a lot of you and your clients. And keeping this kind of information safe is a top priority. Imagine the consequences and loss that could occur if your accounts or books were hacked?
No matter which accounting software program you choose, always keep in mind the security and safety of the program. Some programs offer features that let you manage access priorities of your employees. In other words, you can restrict users and allows users, based on their role, to use the program.
6. External bank support
External support refers to integration with banking institutions. Some accounting software programs can be integrated with banks to support access to transactions, download bank statements, make payments and more. Such integration can help you save time and keep you updated on all payments made and received via bank transfers.
Budget is one of the most important things to consider when purchasing an accounting software program. Every business has an assigned budget, which should not be exceeded in normal circumstances. Your aim to is to find an accounting program which not only offers the features and tools you need, but also fits within budget. The best way to go about this is to compare, analyze and see what program offers the most value for your money.
8. Manual effort
Manual effort is basically the amount of manual work you will put into accounting processes. The point here to remember is that you must consider the usage of a program and how much time is actually being spent on tasks such as data input. If a program requires you to do most of the computations yourself, or requires you to input data every single time, then what is the use of having an accounting program? So, select an accounting program which uses advanced technology and can take away most, if not all of manual dependency.
9. Trial availability
Before you buy a new car, you opt for a test drive. You can do the same when buying an accounting software program. A number of companies are offering free program trials, which means you can use the program for a limited number of days and see if it works for your business.
The last but not the least, user-friendliness of a program. This aspect is one of the most important yet most neglected. Introducing an accounting software program into your business means adjustment and change. You must make sure that your employees are on board with the plan and are willing to learn to use the program. The program should be easy to understand and use rather than being complex and difficult.
At the end, I would like to conclude that an accounting software program should make your accounting processes easier to run and should save your business money as well as time. The right program may cost you a one-time investment, but is bound to turn profits towards higher margins in the long run. So, take your time and do your research well, and check out top rated accounting programs.