3 Tips For Choosing The Right Accounting Software For Your Business¹

Business Finance - Natalia Autenrieth
In her professional lives across the United States, Natalia Autenrieth, CPA has audited Fortune 500 clients as part of a Big 4 team, built an accounting department as a controller of a large hospital, and served as a CPA consultant to municipalities. Today, Natalia coaches in the financial industry and writes about business finance, financial technology, and personal money management. Her ghost-written articles have appeared in thought leadership and expert blogs, as well as Kiplinger and Accounting Today. Read more about Natalia and her practice at www.AutenriethAdvantage.com.

3 Tips For Choosing The Right Accounting Software For Your Business

Accounting software is at the core of your business. It is not a surprise that many business owners procrastinate on switching accounting programs, even if the old system is a clunky source of frustration. Choosing a better alternative is not just the matter of price. How do you make the right choice that will fit your needs and help you grow your business?

Here are three things you must do to choose wisely.

Identify your key requirements.

Many business owners begin the process by reflecting on what is it that they need from the accounting software. I recommend that you look at the question from 2 angles.

First, consider functionality.

  • There are basic accounting tasks that virtually any package will cover with ample capability (income and expense tracking, financial statement generation and tax support).
  • Then there are special requirements you may have of the system. What automation do you need to streamline your back office operations? Some packages allow you to automate billing, reconciliation, payroll processing and other functions.
  • Finally, what integrations do you need? Consider bank, third party inventory tracking system, credit card processing, POS and CRM packages that your company uses. Deep integration can cut down on manual data entry, which saves time and makes your inputs more accurate.

Next, reflect on your preference for cloud vs. local installed version. A locally installed (or desktop) version can allow you more control over access to the program. It is also independent of Internet connectivity and free from advertisement. A cloud version does not require a download, can be faster and comes with automated updates. There is no single “right answer” for everyone, so you must consider your options and circumstances.

Know what technology and capability suites are available.

When possible, opt for a live demo session over a pre-recorded webinar. It will allow you to ask questions and see the system in “live action”. Be sure to inquire whether the software is a good fit for your industry, and how much customization it allows.

Even if you fall in love with the first program you test drive, look at 2-3 platforms to get a sense for the “state of the industry” functionality. Pay attention to ease of use, because it will define the learning curve and the ultimate value you will get out of the program. Insist on exception-based dashboards, clear workflows and intuitive layouts.

Do your due diligence.

A live demonstration of the product is not enough. Talk to current users of the system to get a sense for the quality of tech support, customer service and past system downtime.

Be sure to understand the setup timeline and recommended procedure for transitioning from a legacy system. Some providers recommend a well-managed switch over, others like to see parallel processing for a month to be sure that all data was migrated properly.

Choosing the right accounting software for your business

In addition to analyzing your requirements, performing a thorough review of the state of the industry and conducting independent due diligence, you must also allocate ample time for key users to learn the new system. Even the most intuitive systems take practice, and getting the most out of your new technology package is virtually impossible without the guidance of experienced users and technical support. Make time for the learning, and you will find that your new software can boost efficiency and satisfaction for your staff and help your business grow.