Accounting software – 7 points to consider when choosing your new accounts system

By Suzie Cowling|12th May 2016

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When it comes to choosing accounting software there are plenty of options available. However, not all accounting software packages are right for every business. It’s important to consider the needs of your business and factors such as budget, goals, scalability and users.

We might sell award-winning accounting software, but we’re not going to tell you that Opera 3 is the best accounting software for your business. In this blog, we’re simply going to cover 7 things you should consider when choosing accounting software.

  1. Business goals

Analysing your business and determining what you need from your new accounting software is the first and most important step when choosing a new system. Do you want a fully integrated accounting software solution that can be used across your entire business, or are you looking for a standalone accounts package? Integrated accounting software is the approach to take if you’re looking to grow your business. It can give you more control, improve efficiency and save time.

  1. Requirements

What do you need from your software and what are nice to haves? Entry level software does the basics such as key financial reports, VAT, customer invoices and records. If you need features such as stock management, CRM, costing, credit management and powerful, real time reporting tools then you’ll need to be looking at a more advanced accounting system. Is Payroll a consideration?

  1. Cloud or on premise?

There are plenty of arguments for using cloud based software over traditional business and accounting software, but ultimately it depends on your business. Is cloud right for you?

One of the biggest benefits of cloud based software for small to medium sized businesses is the reduced need for in-house IT support. This is great if your IT team is stretched, but if your business has plenty of IT resource and budget, it would be worth questioning if you really need to move your business and accounts software into the cloud.

Is your business using any other applications in the cloud? Some businesses are using cloud computing for all their business needs whereas others are just using it for certain functions such as tracking sales calls and leads. If all your business functions are cloud based, it would certainly be worth moving your business and accounts software into the cloud too, for better integration and flexibility.

If you’re only using cloud based systems for some of your functions then a transition to cloud based business and accounts software would still be worth considering; especially if there’s a need for more flexibility, tighter control and cost savings within your business.

  1. Know your budget

Have a clear budget in mind and be realistic about what you can afford. If budget is an issue, why not look at modular based software that you can add to as your business grows? Don’t try to buy all the applications straight away, buy the ones you need first and add to your solution gradually.

Would a Cloud solution make a positive impact on the bottom line when choosing an accounting and business system over a traditional on premise offering?

You should also consider your cash flow and how you wish to pay. Would paying monthly improve your cash flow instead or would you prefer to buy upfront? Is finance available?

  1. Scale

You don’t want to be held back by your accounting software in a year’s time. Therefore, it’s essential to look at software that has the capability to grow with your business. For example, does it give you the flexibility to add additional users and companies easily and quickly?  You may need to add modules such as document management or CRM and in some instances this can mean adding a third party piece of software with integration issues that can bring

  1. Users of the software

When selecting accounting software you should involve the people who will be using the software on a daily basis – these might be your payroll managers, credit controllers or accounts managers. Have they used an accounting software package before and did they like it? If so, it might be worth adopting the same software so they can get up and running quickly. Alternatively, invite them to any product demos you see so they can get a feel for the software early on.

  1. Software provider

Finally, take a closer look at the software provider. They think their software is great, but don’t just take their word for it. Look at customer testimonials to see how they are supporting customers in the same industry as you. What challenges do they face and what benefits are they seeing from the software?

Has the company won any awards? This is a good sign that the software you’re looking at is industry leading.

Also consider the reputation of the software provider. Have they been around for a long time and do you feel confident they’ll be around for many years to come. You’ll need to bear this in mind for future software upgrades, development and support.