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How to Choose the Best Accounting System

All businesses need something to record their transactions. An accounting software does just that. A quick overview of accounting features include creating invoices, tracking expenses and generating a variety of reports that help you analyze your business’s performance from various angles. Deciding between accounting systems can be hard these days, especially when the market is filled with both international and custom-made softwares. However, we’ve prepared a checklist that helps you get what you need.

  • Cost - Undoubtedly price is one of the most important factors. Dive into searching with a budget in mind and it'll filter out a good chunk of softwares.
  • Useability - How many users need to access the software? Do you prefer a cloud-based system you can access anywhere or desktop software? Do you need it to have a mobile app?
  • Features - Are you operating a small business? In that case, you probably don't need an expensive software that comes with bloated features that your business does not require.
  • Post-Sales Support - Will you be able to contact customer support during an emergency? Does the accounting software have a community of users that share tips and tricks?
  • Future-Proofing - Is the software able to scale with your business? Be sure to pick a vendor that offers softwares with upgradability and integration with services such as CRM or digital marketing
  • #1 - Does the software justify the price?

While basic accounting softwares are rather affordable, high-end ones costs exponentially more. Most come with a plan, with features ranging from basic to full-fledged. When weighing choices, factor in the hidden costs, especially for cheap softwares. Sometimes, a basic software is provided at a lower cost and then you are forced to buy ‘add-ons’ or pay for ‘maintenance fee’. So, check if there are any hidden costs associated with the software you are planning to buy. Best way to know this, is to check pricing page of the software provider’s website. If they are selling additionals services, those will be mentioned there.

  • #2 - What's the use case?

Multiuser Access. Most accounting software products allow you to invite other users to the system and control the data they can see and the tasks they can access. For example, the director will have the highest level of access, which means that person could control the accessibility of his or her subordinates. Some systems only offer single user access, while others offer are natively built to allow multiple users – additional charges may be incurred.

Online vs Offline. Most accounting software is cloud-based, so you can access your account anytime, anywhere from any computer with internet access, helping you run your business remotely, whether you’re home or on vacation. On the other hand, if you process a lot of invoices a day or have no internet connection at your business location, then you might opt for the offline softwares. Generally, most people lean towards the online softwares, as they are more convenient.

  • #3 - What are some essential features?

Make a list of essential features that you absolutely need in an accounting software. Here are some feature which must be part of a good accounting package.

  • Create invoices and customise the look and feel
  • Track expenses according to categories
  • Manage inventory, inward-outward stock movements and wastage
  • Perform bank reconciliation by importing bank transactions
  • Create purchase orders (PO) and record inventory purchases
  • Create and manage taxes
  • Record Journal Voucher entries
  • Manage list of customers & vendors
  • View account payables & receivables
  • Record Journal Voucher entries
  • View Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss statement and Trial Balance reports
  • Add additional team members
  • #4 - What happens Post-Sales?

While most people overlook this part while doing research for a purchase, post-sales support is the most important while selecting an accounting software. No matter how good or easy the software is, you will need support at some point. And if you have nobody to talk to when you are stuck, your entire investment will go in vain.

Lack of support is also one of the reasons why some accounting softwares are cheap. Obviously, support cost is not included in the offering. You should avoid such products at any cost.

Here is a simple tip to check the support – just post a message or call support number and see how they respond. Based on the response time and quality of response, you will come to know about their support infrastructure.

  • #5 - What about the future?

Scalability. Lot of businesses make a mistake by buying an application which suits to their needs at the time of purchase. Later, when their business starts to grow, the accounting software fail to cope up with the progress and eventually business owners have to migrate to another software. Migrating data from an existing system to a completely new software can be painful.

So, select an accounting software which can scale with your business needs. Some softwares offer only one version of the product and some have progressive versions depending the business type or size. Go for the software that offers an entry level version as well as a feature rich version which you might not need now but will definitely need in future.

Exit Options. Imagine if the company you are buying from shuts down its operations or you discover lot of bugs few months after the purchase. To save yourself from such situations, ensure that the accounting software provides data export facility.

You should be able to export ledger or other transactions at least in the form of excel as most other softwares will accept excel file for the import.

In fact, as a good practice, you should always backup your data at regular intervals.

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