Questions to ask before choosing your Accounting Software

Joe Griffin
Joe Griffin

Committing to any new product can be daunting. We’ve all experienced buyer’s remorse, but that regret can be more acute if your small business is tied up in the wrong software and you have to start all over again.

On the bright side, with so many accounting products and services, there is an accounting software program that suits you. Every business is unique, with its own demands, strengths and cultures.

So before you commit to an accounts software package or service, it’s worth examining your company’s specific needs.

User friendly accounts software

An accounts package doesn’t necessarily need to be simple: if you’re comfortable with accounts or you’re tech-savvy, maybe a more sophisticated package suits you.

However, if you only have basic, specific requirements, then it might be important to go with something that suits those needs.

Watching demos, talking to peers and reading online reviews with this focus in mind will help you decide what works for you. Generally, the fewer steps to completion in a demo, the easier it will be to get a handle on.

Questions to ask your vendor

  • Who is a typical customer?
  • How many steps to get the final result you want (be it files entered, books balanced etc)?
  • What’s the customer support like and is it ongoing?
  • How long does it take to learn how to use it?
  • Will I need to upgrade my software to use it?

Types of accounting software

Or to put it another way, what benefits are important to you?

Accounting software uses can broadly be broken down into the following categories:

  • General Ledger - an overview of comings and going
  • Project Accounting - specific projects, like a building or a major new marketing project
  • Fixed Assets - relating to individual items that have their own benefits and requirements, like a building being leased or a piece of machinery
  • Billing - self explanatory, accounting for your bills, whether they’re pending, paid, unpaid or legacy
  • Data automation - this takes some of the burden and time out of data entry. (AutoEntry would be an example of this.)

Some packages do more than one of the above. And some have optional add-ons if your needs change.

Question to ask your vendor

  • What problems does the software solve?
  • What tasks does it help carry out?

Scalability and accounts software

As your business scales, you might require additional uses. If your business has just two people and you hope it will one day employ ten, you might need payroll software in the future; or a software that’s usable by multiple people.

Some companies, of course, provide multiple packages. So if one provides a service you use right now (general ledgers, for example) and a future one (like the aforementioned payroll software) that would be ideal.

Questions to ask your vendor

  • What’s it compatible with?
  • Are there optional add-ons/companion products?
  • What size business does it cater for?

Mobility and remote working

Remote working, of course, has been a growing concern in recent times. But even without considering home offices, you might want to look at using software on the road.

Questions to ask your vendor

  • Is it mobile friendly?
  • Can you use it offline?
  • Is it compatible with different devices/software?

Cost, pricing and subscriptions

Accounting software should be a money and time saver. Look at how much it costs and how much labor time will be saved. Some software packages rise in price the more you use them. That’s fine too, as long as you know about that before you get started.

Questions to ask your vendor

  • Is it a one off cost?
  • Does it cost more to add users?
  • Are there additional, hidden charges?
  • Do subscription costs vary?

Accounts software and  your relationship with your accountant

The right accounting software should give you a deeper understanding of your company’s finances. And in the best cases, it should deepen your conversations with your accountant or bookkeeper. If they’re spending less time chasing you for receipts and invoices, and more time sharing their expertise on business projections and finances, you’re on the right track.    

Questions to ask your vendor

  • Do accountants recommend this?
  • Is this accessible to both my company and my accountant?

Accounts software and volume of use

Some accounting software is intended only to be used by managers, sole traders or those in accounting. Others, like AutoEntry, are designed to be used by anyone who uses invoices, receipts or bank statements - from construction workers to florists and every other kind of small business.

Questions to ask your vendor

  • Is there a cost per user?
  • Is information easily accessible and shareable across teams and stakeholders?

Accounts Software Final Checklist

If you’re still unsure of what’s right for you, here’s a checklist of what to look out for...

  • Regularly updated: good software has its issues resolved on an ongoing basis, and the updates are public knowledge
  • Scalable: can the software be used for future applications as your business grows? Will multiple people be able to use it if necessary?
  • Affordable: is it priced appropriately?
  • Compatible: does it work with your existing software and hardware?

AutoEntry - your automated friend

Since its inception, AutoEntry has been helping sole traders and small and medium businesses work faster, smarter and more efficiently. Sign up for a free trial to find out how we can make your working life easier.

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