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Review Accounting Software - How to Review Accounting Software

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Business owners have many responsibilities associated with thei business and require help to manage the financial data that flows from daily business processes. An accounting software program that is robust enough to handle business growth is sometimes inadequate in areas of reporting and industry-specific requirements. A software recommendation from the independent accountant may not be satisfactory when implemented. Special consideration must be given to the following attributes of the software prior to purchase and installation.

Setup – Initial install and setup procedures can be cumbersome unless handled through a planned approach to answer every question correctly the first time. Account structure is important to the capability of the other functions so set up will require input from the people who will use the software.

Interface – Screen appearance is important, but the flow between the screens determines the ease of use. Software interfaces can slow business processes because of the difficulty in finding necessary information.

Features – Major accounting functions including accounts receivable, accounts payable, billing, and cash management are required in any software application. Customer-oriented features like customer profiles, billing histories, and their service requirements will help you to maintain solid customer relationships. One of the most important features of any accounting software is the built-in set of reports, generated automatically at appropriate intervals, and the on-demand reports.

Service and Support – Many software companies will provide 30 days of support and then charge for each contact after that. Know your support requirements prior to purchase.

Available training – If employees will need extensive training, search for the availability of user training prior to purchase. Online courses and tutorials are essential for correct use of the software.

Price – Initial cost of the software is important, but not the only cost associated with purchasing new software. Consider new hardware that will be required to run the software.

Operating System – The computer operating system required for the accounting software must be identical to the operating system running on the computers where the software will be installed. Obscure accounting software that runs on high-powered operating systems is intended for very large companies. Know the requirements prior to purchase.

Internal audits – Software with the ability to guide accounting department personnel through a complete internal audit is important for companies that have extensive regulatory obligations. Compliance to certain norms is essential to prevent fines and penalties. Internal audits require time, but prevent problems over time.

Contact synchronization with Microsoft Outlook – Tracking customer contacts in the accounting software and sharing the same information with Outlook is important when the clients are contacted frequently with new product and service offerings.

Export/import data with Microsoft Word and Excel – While most data must be managed within the accounting software, the ability to mine certain data, parse that data, and study trends is performed in Excel. Ease of data imports and exports will separate one accounting software package from another.

Manage Inventory – For a wholesale or retail operation this function is essential, but any service business with a supply inventory can use this function to monitor supply usage and inventory levels.

Custom reports and forms – Standard reports and forms are important for their time-saving contribution to the management of the accounting department, but custom reports can be saved and used to monitor certain aspects of the business. Creating custom forms can the business in the market place.

Users – Verify the maximum number of concurrent users and the per-license cost associated with multiple users on the system.

Other editions – Some software manufacturers have separate editions for more advanced uses. When performing a review for accounting software, include all editions for each brand in your evaluation process.

Paid extras – Processing credit cards and online bill paying are two examples of extras that are offered through the online versions of certain accounting software packages. The cost of these services may be less expensive than current services.

Industry specific editions – Manufacturing, supply chain, contractors, and non-profit organizations have special requirements for accounting software. Some applications have editions specifically for these industries without requiring customization of the standard product.

Other functionality within the software may be required for your specific business, but these major categories will enable you to review accounting software by the most common functions. Remember to consult with other business owners you know to find out which software application works for them. Your accountant may have specific requirements for the software package you choose, so if you are set on a different choice, be prepared to find a new accountant. Research your final three choices and the commit to spend the time to set up the package and use it to the fullest extent possible.

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