Questions to Ask Before Buying Accounting Software

Leo Chen, Oct 17, 2014
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Asking yourself what accounting software is best for your company's needs means you’ve taken a critical first step: Staying on top of your finances. 

Whether you additionally decide to enlist the services of a certified public accountant (or CPA), is up to you. However, a good accountant, someone who comes highly recommnended from multiple friends or clients who use them to file their own taxes, can be a valuable resource for a small business.  

No matter which side of the CPA fence you land on come tax time, accounting software is a great way to simplfy and automate some of the less fun, surprisingly consuming ongoing tasks involved in running your business.  

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you determine what accounting software is best suited for your company's specific needs.

 

SIZE of your business

Accounting software is designed to simplify the many financial processes of your business. This includes simple transactions such as sales and expense monitoring. The size of your business plays a major role in determining the type of accounting software you need. Things to consider when deciding which accounting software to buy include the volume of transactions it could handle and how many people could access this information simultaneously.  

Purchasing accounting software for small businesses might be considered an easy choice but this becomes trickier as the size of the business grows.

 

Accounting software FEATURES

The next question to ask is would the accounting software include all the features required by you business. You should look for accounting software that is tailored to your accounting needs. Does it offer invoice creation, recurring transactions, expense monitoring or even payroll creation?

Accounting software is designed to streamline almost all your financing tasks. This makes it possible for you to accomplish more things at the same amount of time increasing your efficiency. And to get the most out of your accounting software, it is essential that this includes all the features that your business needs.

 

HOW MUCH could you afford?

The cost of paying monthly premiums may not seem like a trickle for some businesses but for startups that are just getting off the ground this might look like a big investment. Understand your needs and determine if this is something you could afford. For medium-size to large businesses, replacing your accountants with accounting software might actually be detrimental to how your business performs.

Accounting software is designed to simplify most of the financial and accounting tasks involved in running a business. It helps budding entrepreneurs get a better grasp of how their business is performing and even improves efficiency in big businesses.

 

Software COMPATIBILITY

Most if not all business even startups have at least one software installed to help them in their business. This could be as basic as the operating system (Windows, MAC) you use or financial software that is used to handle inventory or expense tracking. If you’re planning to use accounting software, make sure this is compatible with your existing tools. Instead of streamlining your business operations, having to enter the same data twice on your accounting software and existing office software only makes the process longer.

 

SUPPORT Services

Most accounting software users possess little or no formal accounting training. That’s probably the main reason why they have opted to use accounting software to simplify some of the financial tasks involved in running a business. Even those who have been working around accounting software are bound to encounter some humps at some point.

Support services are essential when problems come along. And every minute delayed translates to lost income and opportunities.

 

To Buy or Not to Buy

Ultimately there's no substitute for being consistent with the diet & exercise that is keeping your ongoing finances up to date. Being on top of your finances is critical. It matters more than any other single variable (by far). However, using an excellent accounting software - one that's well-suited for your company's specific needs - is a hugely valuable & time saving tool.  

Low quality accounting software companies tend to have higher priced & less intuitive products, which can be costly, as well as make routine tasks maddening to figure out. There are numerous great accounting software products on the market though, which means the heartache is avoidable. Our editors have also done in-depth research on the 10 Best Accounting Software Companies

Recommendation: Sign up for several free trials from the top-rated companies. Then, kick the tires & see if you enjoy the experience of signing up & actually using the product. If the process of signing up is confusing, the software is hard to use, or if the company's customer service isn't responsive before you become a paying member, then these are huge red flags. Odds are things will not get better once they've run your credit card!!!