Managing the financial health and prosperity of your business is about more than just selling enough products, or engaging enough clients.

It’s about knowing exactly what’s coming in and going out, understanding how to use those figures to your advantage – and being forewarned if that delicate balance is about break.

The good news is that every business has this information already, and unlocking its potential is easy with the right accounting software.

And the bad news? Well, with a myriad of accounting programs on the market, choosing the best option for your business can seem like a challenging process.

There’s no need to be overwhelmed though; we’ve put together a few simple steps to ensure you find the right accounting software for your business.

1. List the functions you need now (and later)

Before you begin frantically Googling the various brands and their benefits, take the time to do your research.

The first step is to write a list of the various features you’ll need in your accounting software. Consider what you need right now and what you could need depending on your growth plans for your business.

For example, if you’re a sole trader you won’t need a system with built-in payroll features. However, if your 3-5 year business plan includes the potential of taking on employees, choose a system that can either cater for this now, or offers the option to upgrade your plan to unlock this feature.
Common features you might need include:

  • Basic accounting functions such as invoicing, purchase orders, income and expense tracking, inventory tracking (for businesses that sell products) and time tracking (for service industries that invoice per billable hour).
  • Automated functions, which allow the software to perform time-saving tasks, such as sending out email reminders for overdue accounts. Other programs might allow you to create a quote and then easily convert it into an invoice once it has been accepted.
  • Payroll services to streamline the payment of your employees.
  • Tax preparation features to make life easier at the end of the financial year for both you and your accountant, including GST tracking and BAS reporting.
  • Business reports, which will help you analyse and track various aspects including sales, customer details, cash flow, aged receivables, and of course profit and loss.

Other add-on features you may want to consider include the software’s ability to link up to one or more business bank accounts, handle foreign currencies and integrate with third-party software to share data in real-time such as point-of-sale programs, payment processing and ecommerce services.

2. Identify who’s going to use the software, where and how

Knowing what you need from the software is one thing, but you also need to know how you want to use it.

Will only one person within your business be accessing the software, or will there be multiple users? Most programs allow you to invite other people to use the system, while also giving you the control over what they see and the tasks they can complete.

Consider if you want a desktop-based program or the ability to access the software anytime from anywhere via the internet. Cloud-based systems are a flexible option allowing you to run your business remotely if you’re away from the office.

Some programs also allow you to perform tasks and keep an eye on key information via a mobile app. If this is important to you, make sure the program is supported on your preferred platform.

3. Consider your budget and cash flow

Rather than paying a one-off purchase price for a desktop program, cloud-based software offers multiple subscriptions that can be paid on a monthly or yearly basis. Each price point will come with its own combination of installed features, so this is where the list you compiled earlier comes in handy.

Compare the features you need with the software inclusions to identify the package that is right for you.

It’s a good idea to set a budget and consider your monthly cash flow before you begin this process.

Don’t forget to consider the usability and scalability of each program as well, as sometimes the cheapest now will cost you more down the track when you realise it no longer meets your needs.

4. Get feedback from your peers

Once you’ve compiled your feature hit-list, reach out to others in your industry and business owners in your network. Ask them about the accounting software they use and what they think of it.

Online reviews can be useful, although they do need to be approached with caution as you don’t know the motivation behind their words.

Getting advice from others can help you narrow your search from the myriad of programs available to a few key options.

5. Talk to your accountant

Your accountant already has insight into the financial side of your business, plus they are already working with multiple systems. Not only can your accountant advise you on what software suits your business, they will also be able to guide you toward the software that makes their life easier. The easier life is for your accountant – the lower your accounting fees!

To make choosing and setting up software super simple – talk to HQB right from the start

HQB offers a handy Accounting Software Advisory Service to make this whole process even simpler.

We cut through the confusion by reviewing your current systems, looking at your needs and making a recommendation on the right accounting software for your business. We can even implement the new system for you, and help train your staff to ensure the changeover is as seamless as possible.
Seeking professional advice can save you a lot of time and money in the long run, and put you in the best possible position to track the financial health of your business now and into the future.

To get started, contact us today.

This article is compiled as a helpful guide for your private information and is subject to copyright. We suggest that you do not act solely on the basis of material contained in this article because items are of general nature only and may be liable to misinterpretation in particular circumstances. We recommend that our advice be sought before acting on any of these crucial areas.

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