Choosing the right Accounting Software System
It seems like every time I turn around, I hear about a new accounting software solution hitting the market and making news. As such, I thought I would take a moment and discuss some common criteria to evaluate when choosing the right product for your company.
After careful consideration of the products available, five main criteria seem to rank the top of the list when deciding on a package; these criteria are: Accessibility, Cost, Features, Security and Ownership.
When considering an accounting package, I often get asked the following questions pertaining to accessing file access:
Can we use this software with our mobile device?
How many users can access our file simultaneously?
Can I access the file from my work computer, laptop and home computer?
To answer these questions, we have to look at the platform which the accounting software is using. Desktop programs are less likely to allow access from mobile devices and outside machines and have more restrictions on the number of users. Web-based programs are more likely to allow access on mobile devices or from other machines across large distances. A middle option is some of the remote access solutions which allow a type of hybrid between the desktop versions and the web-based versions.
Another consideration is cost. Many desktop versions allow you to purchase the software outright and use it for years without having to upgrade. Recently though, some manufactures have started using subscription pricing for desktops as well. Web based programs usually are priced per month/year and per user. Remote solutions are also usually per month and per user depending on the package.
Preferred features are another consideration when choosing a program. Some software will integrate with your bank, credit card company and website portal seamlessly. Others will not have the integration features, but more abilities within the program itself, while others will offer 3rd party add-ons which expand functionality. It is very important to identify key features required for managerial operations prior to picking a program.
In this world of cybercrimes, security is a main concern for all. Accounting software is even more so as it warehouses our sensitive financial data and potentially our clients credit information. Features to look for in this area include: User level security, password requirements, encryption considerations when accessing remotely or on the web, intrusion detection and logging.
The final criterion to consider when choosing a program is who owns the data. Most businesses are required to maintain financial records for a number of years. When considering a program to use, it is important to look at the integrity and solidity of the company you are using. Will they be around for the duration? Will you continue to have access to your information even if you close your business? What happens if you want to switch as new progressions are made?
So the question of which accounting program to choose is not as easy as it may seem. We definitely recommend having a good conversation with your accountant, tax expert or other consultant before making the decision. These individuals should be in a position to ask you the necessary questions which will lead you to a solution that is right for your company.