Tips for Choosing the Right Accounting Software for Your Business

Business accounting has come a long way from paper ledgers to sophisticated programs that handle most financial tasks. Regardless of company size, there is a software program that can help forecast future sales, reduce calculation errors, highlighting unprofitable services and more. Choosing the right software program to suit your needs can be a challenge with the plethora of options available both online and in pretty packaging. Here are some tips to making the right decision for your company.


What Are Your Accounting Needs?

Before you start your search for software, managers and owners should have some basic accounting skills and knowledge. You should know what forms and reports are needed to know what to look for in a software. The programs offered can do many of those tasks but understanding some of the basics behind the programs can help you be a better decision maker. The type of business you own might dictate certain add-ons or generated reports that need to be considered prior to purchasing.

Before purchasing anything, you need to speak with your IT staff to determine if you can support the storage space needed for a large software program. If additional hardware is required, that has to be considered as part of your overall budget.

Accountant input whether in house or a consultant can offer expert advice on what your company needs and some good program options to use. In addition, your accountant might want you to use a certain software program to integrate with theirs and might even help you set up your own program to help them gather the reports and create the forms they need.


What You Need to Know Prior to Shopping?

Many program options are very affordable, but the more industry specific the program, the more expensive. Determining the overall budget for the project beforehand can help you make a better decision on both the initial purchase and long-term plan. Maintenance fees for upgrades and updates should also be considered. Reaching out to both software consultants and business owners/managers to discuss what software they use, how they use it and what they like or dislike about it. Knowing how it’s actually used in your industry can be invaluable.


What Are Your Accounting Software Options?

Once the company’s needs and budget are assessed, you are ready to start shopping for a software program. Generally speaking, the software comes in four main categories each with its own popular products.

  • Business management software: The full-featured programs come with higher price tags but might include options such as inventory control, billing, point of sale, purchasing, customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource management (ERP) and purchasing. Popular options include Netsuite and Everest’s Business Management Software.
  • Free programs: Managers should be skeptical about using “free” programs for their financial data. Probably the best option is QuickBooks, which offers a free program that can be upgraded later on as the company grows and changes. Print checks, manage up to 20 customer accounts, handle payroll and create invoices using the free version of QuickBooks.
  • Small business accounting and payroll: A quick search pops up several top-selling products that provide the reports and tools needed to handle the company finances. QuickBooks offers different editions with optional add-ons to customize the program to your needs. Sage Software’s Simply Accounting and Peachtree Complete Accounting Software, MYOB Accounting and Cougar Mountain Software are other popular options.
  • Web-hosted applications: Essentially web-hosted applications are hosted in the cloud. Many big named software applications like Peachtree and QuickBooks have an online option available. In addition, Less Accounting, NetSuite, Clarity Accounting and NetBooks are offered with online-only packages.

After countless hours spent consulting with other businesses and accountants, researching the products available and determining your budget, it’s time to decide. Choose the product that best fits your business and budget.