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Since the advent of cloud computing, start-ups and small businesses have a wide range of online accounting software to choose from.  With so much choice, it is worth taking some time to find the right package for you, and for your business and its growth.

If you are just starting a business, you will probably be trying to do everything yourself, and so an online system that allows you to raise invoices, update your records and keep track on outstanding debtors and creditors, will help you manage your business efficiently. 

Some useful questions to ask of the software are:

  1. What do you and your business need?

Most entry-level software will offer key features such as customer and supplier records, bank reconciliation, VAT, and reporting such as aged debtors/creditors, financial reports etc.

Beyond these, you may want to consider other features such as;

  • Stock control
  • Purchase order processing
  • Multi-currency transaction processing
  • Department and Cost analysis
  • Payroll
  1. What experience do you have?

Most packages offer some sort of online training.  It is worth spending time learning the basics of the software, either by seeing if your software provider offers additional courses, or your accountant may be able to offer a training session to get you started.  Cloud packages often offer the facility to invite your accountant into the system.  This way, they can keep an eye on the running of the software and easily support you should you have any questions or queries.

  1. Do you work from a mobile location a lot?

This is a consideration when looking at cloud packages.  A lot of packages are accessible via a mobile app which can be invaluable if you spend a lot of time away from the office.  However, a cloud package does rely on a stable internet connection in order to access the live data, and so this is something to bear in mind.

  1. Costs and Business Growth consideration

Would you prefer to pay a small cost each month for the software, or would paying for it outright be of preference?  Often cloud packages offer various levels of software, ranging in price.  This can especially be of use when a business is a start-up.  They can start on the basic level then work up as the business needs grow.  Other software offers an initial cost, with an annual support licence which allows the software to be updated regularly, along with telephone support from the software’s experts.  It is worth looking at the various options but not to only look at what your business needs are now, but what they might be in the future.  Find a package that can be adapted as it can be costly to change from one software to another, if your business outgrows a basic package.

  1. Integration and Add-On’s

More and more software providers are working together now to provide an “all around” service.  Look at what integrations and add-ons are available for each accounting package.  Ie. payroll, HR, Customer Relation Management (CRM) or other industry specific products.  With so many options available, accounting software can potentially be grown and tailored to meet all the business needs.

  1. Legislations

Ensure that the software meets with HMRC regulations if you are running VAT or Payroll through it.  HMRC rules state that VAT returns and payroll RTI returns must be submitted directly from the software and so you need to check that it is compatible.

  1. Try before you buy

Many software providers offer a trial of their products, whether this be a 30 day free trial, an online demonstration or a download.  It is worth shortlisting a few products and working through their demonstration modules to see if they are suitable for your business and its needs.

In addition to the above considerations, do talk to your accountant.  They can offer invaluable advice when it comes to your choice of software.  They will have had experience of the various ones on offer, along with other businesses within your industry and what they use.  They will be able to advise on the pro’s and con’s of the various packages. 

Here at HRA Accounting, we often work hand in hand with our clients, advising them on the best software and helping them implement it into their business in the best way possible.  By keeping your accounting software complete and up to date, it can ensure you have accurate figures that you can rely and act on to drive your business forward. 

We are able to give training in most accounting software’s, and also offer help to clients who are already running an accounting package, but who are having difficulties in the day to day entries etc, or just need extra support and guidance.