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Which accounting software is the best?

At least once a week I get asked the same question…

“which accounting software should I use?”

And my response is always the same – there isn’t a single answer and it depends on various factors. Often clients then think “oh, she clearly doesn’t know the answer”. So this month I am going to explain the reason for my response.

Every small business is different

Every small business is different. Even businesses within the same industry are different. They all operate under different structures; they have different banking requirements, different skill sets, they require different reporting requirements … not all business owners are registered for GST, some have inventory and some don’t, some have online stores – the list goes on. I can’t possibly recommend software for your business, without knowing and understanding your individual business situation.

Yes, I have my favourite accounting software providers; however I only recommend them if they’re appropriate. I don’t recommend some accounting software as I know the business owner will not appreciate the software nor understand how to utilize it properly.

Deciding which Accounting software to use

So here is a list of things to focus on when deciding which accounting software for small business to use:

  1. Who will use the software?
    This could be you as the business owner, but don’t just think about your business today. Think about the next 5 years and will you have a finance team, a payroll person, a bookkeeper (internal or external), and an accountant who does your tax return at the end of the year. If you have more than one office location, or have a home office and a physical office elsewhere – you might need a program with more than one licence – and the more users usually the more expensive (for desktop versions).
  2. Skillset of people using the software?
    Some software programs are relatively simple, others not so simple. Think closely about who will be using the software and if they have a general understanding of the bookkeeping concepts, GST requirements, invoicing, etc. There is no point in buying the best and most technical program on the market only to find out that you have no idea how to use it.
  3. Where do you need to access your financial information?
    Do you want the program to be accessed from your office only? Or do you want people to access the program from external offices or even interstate? Some people like to check on their accounts every day – on the train on their iPhone, on a laptop in the office, or on an iPad at night from home. Some desktop versions of software (i.e. non cloud based versions) are not compatible with iPad and tablet devices.
  4. How comfortable are you with the cloud?
    There is a huge trend currently for cloud based software, and whilst I love this trend, using the cloud to store your data is not for everyone. To utilize cloud programs effectively you need to have a very reliable internet connection; this does mean you can access your information from any device, anytime and anywhere. However, keep in mind that most information stored in the cloud is technically not owned by you. And if you want to cancel your subscription, you will no longer have access to your data.
  5. What do you need the software to do?
    Accounting software has developed in leaps and bounds in the past 15 years – however the crux remains the same. Recording transactions with the ultimate goal to run reports to assess the financial position of the business. But the software can do so much more and not all software has the same extended capabilities. Do you need to utilize payroll? Inventory? Detailed reporting? BAS? Invoicing? Bank Reconciliation?
  6. How much do you want to spend?
    Why have I left this until last? Because I truly think that investing in your accounting software is one of the smartest business decisions you can make – and I don’t put a price on that. Some systems can cost in excess of $1200 per year for a multi-user desktop version, whilst some cloud based systems cost less than the price of a coffee a day. But, you as a business owner, still have to be happy with that investment

Once you narrow down the field, most providers have a free trial period so make the most of it.

If you have any questions about which software is right for you, don’t hesitate to contact me – I’m here to help.

Choosing the right software

should create a efficiencies for your business – well worth the investment if you ask me.