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Finding the perfect accounting software

July 16, 2013

Any business owner, whether starting a new business or continuing a long standing venture, has many decisions to make that can impact the company in a positive or negative way. A very important decision to make is; which accounting software is right for you.  With the explosion of available products that exist on the market today, it is very important to understand what the differences and nuances of the programs are, and how everything fits into achieving your business vision.  Below are four categories that can help you to narrow the list of programs to just a handful of options.

What type of accounting software is best for you?

Small scale accounting and payroll software: This software will meet many small businesses needs, can be easy to learn and can often even be tailored to the industry of choice.  There are issues with scalability, customization and database stability that can make business growth an issue.  Popular examples of small scale business accounting and payroll include:  QuickBooks, Peachtree and Simply Accounting.

Large scale business management software:  While it can be very costly to implement and maintain, the functionality and scalability are light years ahead of the small business accounting and payroll software choices available today.  In many cases there are also add-on modules for customer relationship management (CRM), point of sale, inventory control and even enterprise resource management (ERP) that can integrate with the accounting module.  Popular examples of large scale business management software include: Microsoft Dynamics, NetSuite & various Sage products.

Web-hosted accounting software:  With business owner’s confidence growing in the Web as a secure and safe environment, many have gone to the “Cloud.”  This offers the flexibility to access accounting records from any computer with an internet connection or in some cases even a smart phone or tablet.  Using hosted applications can also reduce the risk of data corruption that may create down time. Many times the company used to host the applications will even perform automatic back-ups of data and run software updates when necessary.  There are many IT companies that offer this service based on the applications needed.

Internet accounting applications:  Similar to Web-hosted accounting software, internet accounting applications use the internet as a medium to deliver data to the user.  This software many times is not as comprehensive as the full scale software, but offers ease of access, and features that make it a popular choice for the tech-savvy entrepreneurs.  Some offerings can handle a business’s needs that can even be free; however you should remain skeptical of “free” programs used to track financial data.  Popular examples of Internet accounting applications: QuickBooks Online, FreshBooks and Less Accounting.

Once you have decided which type of software is best for you, put together a list of your accounting needs; speak with your accountant or CPA and your staff (users).  Create a budget, you need to know how much you can spend on hardware, software, implementation and, most importantly, training.  Reach out to businesses in similar industries using the same software to find out about any issues they have experienced with the software; what they like about it and what they don’t (do not just consult sales reps of the software).  Once you feel confident in your choice set a realistic implementation date and stick to it!  Remember there is no perfect accounting software, but there is one made for you!

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