Accounting SystemThere is so much choice when it comes to accounting software. So how do you choose the right one? How do you choose the accounting system for your business – the one you really need. So not the one everyone tells you that you need – but the accounting system which is the right fit for YOUR business?

We face this question with every new client we see. Not to mention all the emails we receive from people just fishing for information.

“Anyone who only gives you one choice of accounting system without actually evaluating your business is wrong. Plain and simple.”

Why do I say that? Well accounting software is not just about picking the flavour of the month, or the one that is advertised the most, or the one with the shiniest logo, or the one that you have seen most recently on the tele or the side of a bus. It is about picking the right accounting software for your business.

“But why does it actually matter – don’t they technically all just do the same thing?”

Hmm…another question we get asked ALL the time. Whilst (*most) accounting software choices these days do the same things from a technical perspective – sales, expenses, management reporting, GST & payroll, they don’t do them in equal measures.

“Our view is having the most popular software and using it incorrectly (or not using it at all) is a total waste of money and resources.”

So how do you pick the right accounting software for your business? Follow my tips to help narrow down the choices:

  1. Write a list of important factors. So what do you need it to do – do you need it to sync with a point of sale system, do you need it to sync to your website, do you need payroll for 20 staff, do you have international bank accounts, do you need a detailed inventory module to record the purchase and sale of your widgets, do you need a budgeting module? Make a list – and it is totally OK for your list to not be the same as someone else’s list – as your business is individual in its nature.
  2. What is the support options if you need help? Here is the kicker (*for some) business owners – not all software provides telephone support. Some only offer email support where the response time frame can be between 24/48 hours. Support can also come in the form of a Bookkeeper, BAS Agent or Accountant. So do they understand the software you want to choose and can they help? Going it alone if you are not in the right financial headspace can be a recipe for disaster.
  3. Free does not mean better (but it doesn’t mean bad either). OK – so I know what it is like to have a startup – you want to use free everything because finances is tight. I get it – totally get it. But just because an accounting software is free doesn’t mean it is the right choice without doing some further investigation. Does it allow the level of detail you need, does it offer bank feeds, does it offer full financial reporting. And does it comply with Australian GST regulations around invoicing. This all needs to be assessed. Always test any system – free or paid!
  4. Multiple users and access levels. As your business grows you may indeed take on staff (trust me – it will happen at some time). So you need to think in advance and work out if staff will need their own access, can they have access to certain areas but not your full financial information, can they just access sales and not purchases – what do they need for their role? You don’t want to give staff access only to find out they can review the entire payroll system.
  5. 5 clicks – it should take 5 clicks. All software looks different – so whilst the backend may all be the “same” – the cosmetic appearance of all accounting software is somewhat different. One of our tests with clients is if they can’t create a sale in 5 clicks it is not the right software for you. If you can’t run a Profit & Loss report in 5 clicks, it is not the right software for you. 5 clicks is all it should take. If you setup a trial, and want to curl up in the corner of the room rocking back and forward as it freaks you out, it is not the right software for you.

So there you have it, some simple (yet important) steps to think about when deciding on the right accounting software for your business. We love that their is choice, as we feel this means you get to make an informed decision about what your business will benefit from.

“Due to so much choice, we feel there is no one size fits all to accounting software.” 

If you need a help deciding, we run Financial Strategy and Coaching sessions so we can chat via Skype or phone to help you out in the decision making process. We can even screen share and show you various options to help make the decision easier.

Accounting software is an investment in the financial future of your business so getting this initial step right can make a world of difference.