Small Business Accounting Software – How Do You Choose
"Information technology and business are becoming inextricably interwoven. I don't think anybody can talk meaningfully about one without the talking about the other." Bill Gates
Bill Gates is right especially when it come to small business accounting software. Accounting and small business accounting software are inextricably interwoven – there is no going back to the days of the two inch thick ledger books and green eye shades – it is a brave new world. So if accounting is the way businesses keep score than the accounting software used is an extremely important piece of software to get right. You don't want to try to force a square peg in a round hole – you need to find the right small business accounting software application for your business processes.
So how do you do that? There are so many choices in today's market place for accounting software how do you make the right choice for your business? Often small businesses just go out and buy the most popular application or buy the same software a friend recommended. Sometimes it's a good fit and sometimes it's not. You do not want to buy something just because it is popular or someone else uses it you need to evaluate your business processes first and then with armed with the results of your analysis go out and find the small business accounting software application that fits your business.
Finding The Right Small Business Accounting Software
Now you might be thinking, "That sounds like good advice but I've never reviewed by business processes – how do I do that?" First start with the basics and answer a few simple questions:
(1) What kind of business do I have? Are you a retailer, construction contractor, home builder, doctor, manufacturer, wholesaler, beauty salon or a not-for-profit organization.
(2) How many people will need access to the accounting software? Will they need simultaneous access? Will they
be connecting from various geographic locations?
(3) Will the software be installed on a standalone computer or will it be installed on a network? And if it is going to be on a network is it a client/server network or peer-to-peer network?
(4) If you have either sales staff in the field or service technicians in the field will they need remote access to the accounting software?
(5) Will you need the software to process payroll?
(6) Where do you see your business in 5 to 10 years?
Once you have the answers to these questions written down – yes I said it – write in down don't just think about. If you put pen to paper of fingers to keyboard you will find it will not only spark other thoughts but you will be far less likely to forget a key component in your quest for the right small business accounting software application for your company. So now you are ready for – wait for it – some more questions:
(1) Do you maintain inventory? And if yes, what inventory valuation method do you use – FIFO, LIFO or Average Cost? Will you need to track items with a serial number? Do you issue purchase orders? Do you receive inventory prior to receiving the vendor's bill? Will you need to track raw materials, WIP and finished goods? Do you create estimates? Do you create sales orders?
(2) Will you need to track employee time to enter either on invoices or to allocate to the production costs? Will you need job costing?
(3) Will you need to email invoices? Will you need to print on custom forms? Do you send out monthly customer statements? Do you assess finances charges on past due balances? Do you accept credit cards? Do you need the credit card processing to integrate with your accounting software? Do you sell online or take customer orders online?
(4) Will you need to download credit card activity? Do you need online banking to integrate with the software?
(5) Do you use any other software to handle a specific function that will need to integrate into your accounting software? And if yes, is that custom written software?
(6) Do you have any specific reporting needs like certified payroll?
Ok we have come a long way and answered a lot of questions now just to make sure we didn't miss anything you want to chart your sales process and all of its components from cradle to grave and talk to everyone involved along the way to get their input on how it's done now and how can we make it better. Depending on the number of people involved it may be better to talk to each one individually and then get everyone together to brainstorm about your business processes and the key functionality you need from you small business accounting software application.
Small Business Accounting Software Options
Now you are ready to find the right small business accounting software application for your business. And there are a lot to choose from including:
(1) QuickBooks – There is QuickBooks Pro, QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Enterprise plus their industry specific editions.
(2) Sage Peachtree – There is Sage Peachtree Pro, Sage Peachtree Complete, Sage Peachtree Premium and Sage Peachtree Quantum plus the various industry specific editions.
(3) AccountEdge – There is AccountEdge for Windows, AccountEdge for Mac, AccountEdge Mobile and AccountEdge Network Edition.
(4) NetSuite for Small Business – They have a modular based product line including NetSuite Financials, NetSuite CRM+, NetSuite Ecommerce and NetSuite OneWorld.
(5) xTuple – There product line include xTuple PostBooks, xTuple Standard, xTuple Manufacturing, xTuple Project and xTuple Enterprise.
(6) Zoho Books – Their business model allows for integration with 20 different Zoho business, productivity and collaboration applications.
These will get you started on your quest for the right small business accounting software application for your company. But if these do not meet your needs there are other alternative in the marketplace so no matter what happens do not get discouraged the perfect small business accounting software is out there waiting.
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Random Quote“Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal.”