There is an abundance of small business book keeping software from which to choose. Small businesses are well served by the software industry and this can make a decision somewhat overwhelming.
It’s a good idea to start the acquisition process by first determining your needs, and only then go on to do an accounting software comparison.
Decide on the price or range of prices, as this will help to narrow the field of products available to you. Remember that accounting/bookkeeping software is an investment, and as such an asset purchase, so while there is a fixed purchase price, there will be other costs associated with the investment.
Beware of pricing structures that drive total lifetime costs, such as maintenance agreements, support, upgrades, custom stationery requirements, custom set up programming to your organisational requirements, and minimum hardware specifications etc. Small business book keeping software products are written with specific industries in mind.
For example, service businesses require time reporting and time billing systems to accurately invoice clients, and measure their costs; Wholesale and retail businesses need strong inventory control. Many retailers will also need a point-of-sale system to accurately record sales, and stock movements.
Construction accounting software will allow job costing, and stage payments on jobs, whilst a manufacturer needs bills of materials and work in progress stages to accurately record stock valuations.
Keep you eyes out for these features, but more importantly assess the benefits that the appropriate recording could deliver to your business.
Choosing the right book keeping software specific to your industry may still not deliver everything you need.
Consider the fact that after your industry specific accounting software comparison, book keeping software is often purchased by module and will have add-ons to handle special tasks that a business may require.
This may include fixed assets management or leasing control modules, in addition to the standard modules. Don’t forget to make these elements part of you system requirements specification, before you start shopping around.
What are the growth expectations for your business? Off-the-shelf packages are easy to set up and use, but may have a limit to the volume of transactions, number of customers, or concurrent users. Scalability is the term that business finance software vendors use to describe the ability of the software to grow with the business.
The complexity of the chosen product can determine the cost of installation and training. A simple accounting product can be setup by the owner with the help of manuals while a mini-ERP (Enterprise Resource Procurement) package may cost an additional forty percent to get started. In both cases you will create business risk if the setup and training is not effectively carried out.
Future product upgrades and software support will be needed, and the level and quality of support can vary substantially. Small business book keeping software is always under development. Bugs can occur and updates need to be installed by technically competent professionals. Support can vary widely. From letters through the mail, to full 24 hour call out – remote assistance.
The choices can be overwhelming and it is advisable to seek unbiased advice.
Your accountant will often be the first choice for that advice, but beware that your accountant may have preferences based on what he or she would prefer from a familiarity point of view, when doing your books.
Consultants that specialize in product selection can bring a wide variety of experience to the decision and for a reasonable fee can help make sure that you make the right choice.