There are numerous accounting software packages available which makes the choice varied but it can be confusing which makes the decision harder. Before looking at any software you need to establish what you need the software package to do:
- How big is my business now? Where do you see it in 5 years/10 years? – It is important you consider this and it is better to opt for a software package that will ensure it still meets your needs to 5/10 years’ time
- What are the 5 key elements you need from a software package? – This could be sales invoicing and credit control of customer accounts, products and product reporting, management reports, ability to do vat returns, bank feeds, and anything else that is key to your business
- Accessibility – how many people need to use it and where do they need to access it from? – there are different types of software out there – desktop based and cloud based being the main two so decide which one will best suit your needs. Remember desktop packages you tend to own outright so you never lose the data whereas you do not tend to own cloud based versions and if you decide to change in the future then you would lose the data
- Budget – what can I afford? although I would say this should be the last factor you consider – a good accounting software is worth it in the long term as it is invaluable and saves you time as well as giving you lots of information
Once you have established what you need from a software package you can then start looking at the ones available – check the features of each one first that way you can discard any that don’t meet your requirements quickly. Most companies offer a free trial (some offer free demo’s) on their software so once you have a short list download the free trials and have a play, that way you get to see how user friendly they each are and which one(s) you prefer. Ask questions –don’t be afraid to ask questions about the software it is important you have any queries answered before making your final choice.
Once you have shortlisted it to just a couple of packages make sure you look at the finer detail and the wider picture:
- Will I need to train employees how to use it? If so how long will this take and how much will it cost?
- Will this software grow with my business? – can it cope with the demand in 10 years’ time? It is better to go with a long term option as switching software every few years is costly and time consuming
- You can talk to your bookkeeper/accountant for advice too – I would strongly recommend you do this as your bookkeeper/accountant will have an excellent understanding of what you need from your software and they will need to use/access it too.