The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Accounting Software

Choosing Accounting Software8 Factors to Consider in Your Search for Small Business Accounting Solutions

Finding the right accounting software doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, it’s not as challenging as you think. The right small business accounting software is the solution to your accounting needs. And compared to inefficient and error-prone manual spreadsheets, the right accounting software will save you time and money.

Bookkeeping isn’t the most exciting task. Some 40 percent of business owners surveyed in 2015 by the nonprofit SCORE said it’s their least favorite part of owning a business. That makes sense. You want to run your business, not spend 80-plus hours a year on bookkeeping and taxes. The right accounting software puts everything you need for efficient financial management and bookkeeping at your fingertips.

There are a lot of good reasons to look into better accounting software solutions.

  • You’re new to the small business game and need a running start.
  • You’ve been in business a while, but you’ve outgrown QuickBooks and manual accounting.
  • Your current system isn’t user-friendly and doesn’t streamline day-to-day transactions, inventory, and payroll.
  • You need a system that supports a holistic view of customer and vendor information, credit terms, and purchase histories.

You need small business accounting software that integrates your operations and automatically inputs data from your CRM, POS, and ERP — not to mention, complies with all state and federal laws. The right accounting software does all the heavy lifting and still keeps your business on the right track.

We know small business accounting software inside and out, so you don’t have to! In our research, we’ve found the best accounting software solutions include eight essential functions:

  1. Payroll
  2. Inventory management
  3. Estimates
  4. Budgeting
  5. Sales Tracking
  6. Tax reporting
  7. Merchant support for credit card payments
  8. Customer contacts management

Yet, with so many solutions on the market, your search for the perfect software can be understandably daunting. But it doesn’t have to be! In choosing the right accounting software for your business, there are a few simple things to consider.

8 Factors to Consider When Choosing Small Business Accounting Software

  1. Your Industry-Specific Needs – Not every software system is built for your industry. You need solutions to the unique issues your industry presents. For example, nonprofit organizations don’t need software that’s compliant with Generally Accepted Accounting Practices and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and HIPAA. But health care organizations do.
  2. What Others Have to Say – In your search for accounting software solutions, reach out to your network. What are others in your industry using for their accounting needs? Accounting software is an investment. If your competitor or industry partner doesn’t like their software, there’s a good chance you won’t either. Word-of-mouth is a factor in 74 percent of buying decisions, with company websites trailing behind at just 59 percent, according to a 2014 study by Ogilvy, Google, and TNS. Asking around will ensure you find the software that best fits your needs.
  3. How Much You’re Willing to Spend – Accounting software is an investment, so approach it with a budget. On one hand, an inexpensive solution will save you money today, but not in the long run. And expensive software with all the bells and whistles might be all shine and no substance. Accounting software varies in price, from lite versions to five-figure models. Set your budget according to your needs.
  4. Integrated Features Versus Add-Ons – There’s a key difference between add-ons and integrated features, and it’s not just the additional cost. Integrated software combines different systems to function as a whole. For example, your accounting software might integrate with your payroll, inventory, and other payment systems. Add-ons supplement the software system and can extend the function of the system, but they might only be available for a fee.
  5. How Your Accountant Can Help You Make a Decision – There are a lot of reasons why your search for the right solution could go awry. “A project leader who is new to the responsibilities of the position may encounter more hurdles than one who is well-versed in seeing a project through from inception to completion,” says contributor Genae Valencia Hinesman. Your accountant will know about your accounting needs in ways you don’t expect, so bring them on board. They can provide an educated opinion on the software that best suits your business.
  6. The Security of Your Software – Fraud and embezzlement affect companies big and small, with fraudsters going up to 18 months without detection, on average. To help protect your business from a financial hit due to fraud, you’ll need software that’s secure. You’ll want internal controls over which users are authorized to access the software and make changes to data and reports.
  7. If Your Software Can Generate Reliable Reports – Part of protecting your business from fraud means having software that can generate reliable reports, including audit trails. Additionally, your accounting software is only as good as the reports it can generate. On a basic level, you’ll need a balance sheet, income statement, equity statement, and cash flow statement. If you manage employees, you’ll also need payroll reports that can show earnings and deductions, labor costs, and taxes. If you need custom reports, you’ll want to make sure your chosen software is designed to help you.
  8. Available and Accessible Customer Support – If this is your first time using accounting software, you’ll need to know how to use it. You’ll need software that comes with demos and tutorials, so you don’t miss out on anything your software has to offer. You’ll also need a searchable index and context-sensitive help. And when it comes to software emergencies, nothing beats the help of a live support team available when you need them.

No Matter What Software You Choose, Focus on the Future

When you invest in small business accounting sources, you’re investing in the future of your small business. Your solution isn’t a solution unless it can grow with your business. If you grow to the point where more than one person needs access to your financial records, your software needs to adapt for multiple users on a single network.

Take the Next Step. Call Cougar Mountain Software!

We have out-of-the-box solutions for your small business accounting needs. We’re your experts in accounting software and training. We can help you save time and make sure all your needs are met.

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Cougar Mountain Software develops leading on-premises accounting solutions. Our hallmark software, DENALI, is specifically designed to scale to clients’ needs while maintaining an unbreakable audit trail.