Maintaining financial records is essential – it’s not just about taxes. Your business success depends on being able to access critical financial information when necessary. Whether you’re investigating cash flow shortages or creating your budget for next year, the right bookkeeping software is vital. Given the wide range of options out there, choosing the best path forward can be a real challenge. How do you ensure that you’re making an informed decision?
Sure, feature-packed software suites sound great. They offer a lot of potential functionality. However, do you really need all those features? Will you actually use them? You might need them five or ten years down the road, but what about right now? And make no mistake – you’re paying for those additional features. If they’re unnecessary, then you’re overpaying. Look for a software solution that meets your needs and offers scalability as those needs change, without forcing you to overpay for features that aren’t necessary right now.
The Right Features
While you shouldn’t have to pay for unnecessary features, you do need to ensure that the software you ultimately choose supports the features you need. You might require sales tracking (POS), or inventory management. You might need budgeting and estimation capabilities, payroll and business tax reporting, merchant account support, accounts payable or something else entirely. Double-check the features list and ensure that it meshes with your needs, both now and in the future.
In the past, only those with authorization to access a company’s financial information had access to the software. With web-based solutions, that’s changed, particularly if your business has shared workstations. The best solution is to ensure that the software you choose offers internal controls that provide user-specific access rights and duty segregation. This ensures that unauthorized staff can’t access sensitive information and reduces risk to your business. Other internal controls you should have access to include audit trails and approval workflow.
Ease of Use
Bookkeeping software all too often comes with a steep learning curve. This is particularly true if you’re transitioning from one platform to another (say, moving from QuickBooks to NetSuite). Make sure that the suite you purchase offers significant ease of use, or you might find that you and your staff spend more time learning how to use the software than actually growing your business. As a note, web-based accounting solutions can offer access to multiple general ledger systems, ensuring that you’re able to continue using the system with which you’re familiar while benefitting from cloud-based technology.
You’re not an accountant – you specialize in your business’ niche. You’re going to have questions, concerns and problems with accounting. Bookkeeping software unfortunately won’t solve these problems and the customer service reps at most software companies know very little about actual accounting. It is thus very important that not only do you choose the proper bookkeeping software for your business, but you also choose a bookkeeping solution (contractors, employees, or outsourced) that will offer the support you need and understand the software’s nuances. Look for a solution backed by professional bookkeepers and accountants that can answer questions and ensure that your books are in order.
We’ve mentioned web-based software a couple of times thus far, but it bears further examination. You definitely want web-based bookkeeping software because of the wide range of advantages offered. It’s more affordable than purchasing copies of a full software suite for use on a handful of workstations, and because it’s accessible via the Internet, you can use it from any web-enabled device, including your smartphone or tablet. It’s also an essential consideration for disaster preparedness, as your financial information is stored offsite.
With this information, you should be able to make an informed decision regarding your bookkeeping software. Affordable, web-based software offers significant advantages over single-installation solutions.
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