Whether you are planning to invest in your first accounting software or planning to migrate to a new system that offers more features, you’ll have dozens of options to choose from. You will come across a bunch of names that you have heard good and bad things about, and you will stumble upon software systems that look great but you’ve never heard about.
The seemingly simple task of choosing a system will suddenly transform into a big endeavour that requires research!
Just remember, that at the end of the day, you are looking for a solution that enables your team to achieve more with less effort. In addition, you may want to reduce errors by automation bookkeeping related tasks. Once you are able to shortlist accounting software systems, it is essential to test them and ensure that they will actually add value to your business. We have found that asking the following simple questions can make it easier to sift the wheat from the chaff:
1. Is it the right fit for my accounts department?
In spite of standardisation and adherence to best practices, no two accounts departments work in the exact same way. Your business, and by extension, your accounts team will have processes unique to them. While you might need to modify your accounting procedures anyway once you implement a new software, it is best to go for a solution that is a good fit for your team.
While making the choice, don’t be driven by current needs only. See where your business will be a few years down the line and anticipate the requirements of your future accounting department. List down the key features that you are looking for and try to find an accounting software that offers the best package around these features. Choose a scalable system that can work for you over the years.
2. Cost-benefit analysis: does your choice offer value for money?
When you go shopping in the market for an accounting system, you will be delighted and amazed at the various options. Don’t get dazzled by the features and functionalities offered by the software – think of the amount of money you need to invest and what you can get in return. Create your budget and implementation timeline based on cost-benefit analysis to ensure that you do not end up buying a white elephant.
3. Would you benefit from an online software or an offline one?
Cloud-based accounting software systems have taken the accounting world by storm. The reasons for this? Simple economics – less time for installation, accessible anywhere, data is always synchronised, easy to integrate with other systems, automatic backup and maintenance. Plus, you get to pick from a wide range of payment and pricing options. However, you might want an offline software if you do not have internet connectivity or if you deal in highly sensitive data that just cannot leave your servers. This takes us to an incredibly important point.
4) How serious are they about data security?
While Cloud-based accounting software come with powerful security features, no online system is 100% secure. Before you sign up, ensure that the software company is serious about the security of the data on the system – where they store it, how it is backed up, what precautions have been taken to prevent hacking, etc. At the same time, educate your team on the various types of online frauds and teach them techniques to prevent such frauds.
5) Can you rely on the software provider for support and upgrades?
Who can you call when something goes wrong with the software? Who will help you if you need to integrate the accounting system with a new software? No matter how good the new system is, something or other will need fixing in the future. Choose a software provider that you can count on. And make sure that you have a written agreement outlining the extent of post-sales support that you are entitled to.
We hope that asking these questions will help you make the correct decision. At QX, we help clients through our outsourced finance and accounting services. Over the years, we have played a part in the implementation of accounting software for clients across industries. If you need assistance with software selection or migration, feel free to contact us online, or call us on 0845 838 2592.