What to look for in your new accounting software

Whether you are starting a new business or changing your service provider, running a business is incredibly tough. There are so many things that you need to consider, such as staff, company identity and marketing, strategic goals and of course, finances. It doesn’t matter how big or small your company is, or what you specialise in or where you are based, if you don’t have your finances properly managed, your business is far more likely to fall apart.

Since most business owners may not be accountants themselves, they need to hire someone to do this for them. But the accountant you choose is no longer the deciding factor on your company’s financial health – it all comes down to the accounting software you choose to use.

If your accounting system is not up to scratch, you are not going to understand your costs, your investments and how to make money from your time spent on work and services.

On the other hand, if you have a clear understanding of the financial foundation of your business and the way in which accounting and bookkeeping has changed over the past few years, you can use this to make the move to a smarter, technology focused solution.

Here are some important software characteristics to look out for:

Cloud software

This may seem obvious or even overdone at this point, but this is probably the most important thing to look for when searching for an accounting solution for your small business in 2017. There are countless benefits of moving over to the cloud, such as real-time accounting, easy accessibility and the software’s ability to have multiple add-ons. When it comes to small and medium businesses, cloud is the future.

Centralised or decentralised?

We are used to accounting software packages being an all-in-one solution, but more and more businesses are moving towards a decentralised solution for the different parts of their business. There are pros and cons to both solutions. Having all of your needs provided by one program can create a unified experience, but this is also generally unwieldly at the same time because you are forced to do it “their way”. In addition, all-in-one software rarely provides all the features you need on the one hand, and hundreds of features you don’t need on the other. This is why a decentralised solution can be beneficial because you can get a program that suits your core business needs first and in most cases, pay less for the software. Anything you may need to add on can be done at a later stage. Plus, if you find that the program you bought is not quite right, you merely cancel the monthly subscription, “unplug” it and buy another one.

Workflow automation

Look for accounting software that has the ability to use workflow systems. Add-ons such as Receipt Bank, can add ease and convenience to your everyday bookkeeping work. In this case, Receipt Bank uses optical character recognition to scan slips and invoices, eliminating data capture which frees up time for your bookkeeper to add real value to the company in more creative ways.

Accountants are becoming more like advisors

Accounting is changing fast as software developments save more and more time. As 65% of business owners agree that the accountant is the most trusted advisor, the new software developments will free up time for your accountant to be able to provide better advice in more areas rather than spending their time “accounting”. By finding a product that provides this freedom, you will have better information, quicker and with a broader view.

Customisation and personalisation

Every business wants a solution tailored to their specific needs. Although SME-focused accounting programs provide very little customisation opportunities, the newer programs provide more flexibility, particularly in reporting. Look for software that has flexible capabilities in reporting and the ability for other programs to seamlessly integrate with it.

Data analytics

A growing trend in the tech world is the ability to analyse data in order to get real, valuable insights for your business. The standard reports such as income statements and balance sheets will always be important, but what businesses are really trying to achieve are ways to improve their business strategies. Find an accounting solution that can give you deeper insights into your data in order to better your overall company profitability.

In conclusion, the bottom line when looking for an accounting solution is to look to the future. The priorities of software designers and accountants have changed and in turn, so should your accounting software. Find something that works best for your business and keeps you up to date with the industry. Our favourite online software is Xero. Check it out here: https://www.xero.com/za/