23 January 2014

5 tips on choosing the right accounting software

Need support with your business finances but can't afford an actual accountant? We have 5 tips to help you choose the right accounting software for you.

Unless you’re an accountant, it’s likely that at some point you may need a helping hand keeping your finances in order.

But while large businesses employ experts as finance directors, this is not a viable option for most start-ups or SMEs. Consulting accountants can also be expensive and some of the basic tasks can be achieved by investing in accounting software.

Software is available that can help you keep track of your company’s cash flow, invoices, tax, VAT and profit and loss. This will usually cost less than employing an accountant to do it for you.

So, where do you start when it comes to finding the right software for your start-up business?

1. Check whether your bank offers any packages

Some business bank accounts include free start-up Sage accounting or planning packages, at least for a trial period.

2. Consider the cloud

Look at all the options available and think about whether you want a cloud-based system for your business IT, which is paid for monthly. Your data is stored remotely so you can access it from any device wherever and whenever you need to.

You could also choose to buy software and keep the data on your own computer, but this usually requires more of an up-front investment and is less flexible.

3. Choose something that will grow with you

When you are looking into the different types of accounting software, look for something that has the ability to cope with your growing needs when you (hopefully) expand. There is no point investing in something very basic, only to have to replace it quickly because you need something more sophisticated.

4. Choose your favourite features

The features offered vary so pick the ones which matter most to your business. Some packages like KashFlow will allow you to file your VAT return directly to HMRC online. Whether this is something you are interested in depends on how onerous a task you find doing the return yourself. Other things you may look for include secure integration with a number of payment card processors so your accounts will be updated with payment information automatically, and the ability to send out invoices quickly and easily.

5. Check how easy it is to transfer your data onto another system

If you don’t like the software you have picked or you want to upgrade, you really don’t want to have to start again from scratch. It is worth finding a system that will allow you to transfer the information onto another system if you need to.