Choosing accounting software can be a challenging project for any organization. Each software option includes a different set of features, and most offer multiple pricing plans to choose from, which also vary by feature, number of users, or other factors.
In our experience, the more planning and preparation you put into the project, the greater likelihood of a good fit and successful project. The following are a few questions to initially ask in order to narrow down the choices for accounting software:
- What does the customer service structure look like? Is there a dedicated support person or when an issue arises will you need to call an 800 number? Is live chat an option?
- Is this software a good fit for my industry? Does it fit our specific industry-driven needs?
- If the software is not an exact fit for my needs, will it need to be customized to be useful?
- Can this software accommodate the number of employees, vendors and clients we have? Is it able to scale with our growth plans?
- Does this software help us with compliance?
- Is my data automatically backed up? If so, how frequently?
- How/where is my data stored and backed up? Can access be restored immediately during an outage?
- Does this software handle the multi-currency issues I might have or international transaction needs?
- Does this software provide out of the box reporting capabilities or are the reports easily customizable? Is there a separate reporting tool that will need to be implemented?
- What does security look like? How does this software automatically protect my important data?
- What is the total cost? Does this include implementation? Are items like monthly cloud storage fees or annual maintenance (covering upgrades) included or extra?
First take into consideration your organization’s specific needs. Does your organization need a relatively inexpensive solution or an application that will cost more but includes all of the feature you currently need or will need in the foreseeable future?
Accounting software costs can vary and depend on the number of features included, the number of users and other factors. Most accounting software companies offer cloud-based software and charge a monthly subscription fee. Another detail to consider is whether there are multiple plans offered by a provider. Often times, multiple levels of a software will be offered and it’s important to examine which level meets your needs without including features that will not be utilized. Some providers also offer discounts if you pre-pay for a yearly subscription instead of on a month-to-month basis.
Usability & Access
To find the best accounting software fit for your organization, carefully consider how and where you want to use it. Specifically it is helpful to look at who will use the software and where/how they will use it.
For users, examine who will need access to the software and consider whether different permission levels will need to be established. Depending on the system, there may be certain pricing levels based on the number of active users. Another factor to consider is where these users will be accessing the software from. Most accounting software these days is cloud-based, so you will have the ability to access your account anytime and anywhere so long as you have access to the Internet. Some companies also offer mobile apps, which can help users complete tasks on the go but may not necessarily be a feature that will be used often.
Lastly, it’s important to fully assess the features of any accounting software you consider. Reviewing accounting software options can be a daunting tasks due to the wide range and number of features offered. Many of our clients say that ease of use and time-saving features are the top two things they look for in a program.
Take into account what you need the accounting software to do (need) vs. what is a “nice to have” (want). Which reports do you need it to generate? Does your organization need an inventory tracking feature? Do you require a system that also includes supplementary services such as time tracking, project management or payroll?
Some organizations can move forward with an accounting software that offers them “out-of-the-box” basic functions such as invoicing, financial reports, and income and expense tracking. Specific accounting software can be pre-programmed with automations to assist your accounting and finance team. It’s important to look for features like automatically sending recurring invoices or past-due notifications that can be important time-saving features.
Accounting software offers many features and tools that can help your organization manage your finances. Any accounting software up for consideration should cater to your organization’s needs, make it easier to complete routine accounting tasks and help your organization easily see the “big picture” of how the organization is performing.
Want to learn more about selecting the accounting software that is right for your organization? Or need help understanding the process? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 781-235-1490.