Money management is a required discipline for the business owner with dreams of surviving where others fail and business accounting software offers control over every hard-earned penny. Effective reporting is essential for understanding the financial health of the business based on large quantities of data. Trends and warning signs must be identified for making timely decisions. Software features provide summary information in a dashboard format that removes the need to consult with an accountant for business assessments.
Tax laws, regulations and account management dictate the need for powerful business accounting software that meets specific needs. Business owners have many choices when determining which software package is best. Differences are noticeable when reading a summary from the list of choices.
Prior to acquiring a business account software solution, the business needs should be assessed. Answers to important questions allow decision makers to eliminate candidates that would not meet business needs. Each accounting solution offers different approaches for the users.
Access preferences – Each business has specific needs for using the business accounting software application. Selection of the provider will be determined based on the business operation and equipment available to its users.
Desktop – One copy of the software will reside on each desktop computer where one user will perform work-related tasks. As the company grows, additional copies can be purchased for use on other computers throughout the office. Data will reside on a central server for easy access and sufficient space.
Online – Web-based software solutions offer frequent software updates for any number of users. Monthly usage fees will add up over time, but many businesses prefer the supporting services that accompany this approach.
Mobile – Applications for smartphones and tablets have been developed to support those who run a business from remote locations. Not all accounting packages offer this option, so the decision maker must ask questions before purchasing a certain brand if this option is needed.
Security – Physical, data and user security must be considered when the access type is determined. Each option requires consideration from the business owner in restraining access to the accounting system. Online security is no longer a worry for business owners who prefer to use web-based business accounting solutions.
Data recovery – Only 10 percent of all businesses will survive the loss of data that can occur in natural disasters, fires or floods. Accounting data must be backed up to a safe place on a regular schedule. Software solutions provide suggestions, but the decision makers must ensure that a data recovery plan is in place.
Simple or scalable – Business growth is a challenge that every owner dreams of addressing. Business accounting software solutions differ in their ability to handle complex accounting functions as the business grows. Embracing a new software package in each growth stage will require additional investment in equipment, software and expertise. Business plans must include budgeted funds for accounting solutions.
BUSINESS ACCOUNTING SOFTWARE
Various business accounting software providers have been on the scene for many years. Business owners might be aware of some of the famous ones while others are unknown. Fame does not equate to matching the business need. Discussions with other business owners can eliminate some candidates in the early stages of the evaluation process.
QuickBooks – Installed versions for desktop use:
Pro – Provides a centralized view of vendor, customer and employee information for the user. Customizable snapshots are helpful for analyzing business performance. All basic accounting functions are included along with the payroll function.
Premier – Industry specific reports are included in this advanced version of QuickBooks. Forecasting tools allow the user to estimate future expenses and income. Inventory tracking is available through one control panel.
QuickBooks – Online versions for cloud-based computing:
Online Simple Start – One person can use the account in addition to the company’s accountant. Invoices, sales and expenses are managed. The user can customize 20 reports. Customer data is centrally located for use throughout the application.
Online Essentials – Additional functions include online banking, 40 customizable accounting reports and the Company Snapshopt for real-time views of business information.
Online Plus – Established and growing businesses appreciate the advanced tools that can provide purchase orders, tracking of classes, 1099 creation, time and attendance, inventory management, planning and budgeting and many other important functions.
Sage 50 – This accounting powerhouse replaced PeachTree, which has been retired and replaced. Under the new name, the software allows PeachTree experts to use software with the same familiar look and functionality. Additional features and services have been added.
Sage One – Accounting, contact management and project management are combined in this cloud-based solution. This easy-to-use package provides essential account functions for running a growing business.
Xero – Xero is intended for companies with fewer than 50 employees. Real-time cash flow reports are a useful function of this cloud-based software solution. Bank transactions can be imported for easy updates to the software.
FreshBooks – As an early entrant in the cloud-based accounting software market, FreshBooks is known for online billing, which is perfect for independent contractors and professional service providers. Sending invoices and collecting payments is the majority of the accounting activity for independent business owners. Time tracking is an important feature since professionals must track billable hours.
Outright – Sole proprietors appreciate the Schedule C tax support offered through this handy software solution. Online sellers and freelancers use this package for basic accounting tasks, such as credit card activity, banking functions and Paypal and eBay transactions.
Edoceo Imperium – Critical business and financial information is contained for easy access. Since 2001, Imperium has been a great tool for tracking business contacts. Complete work histories for every contact are stored for easy reference.
LedgerSMB – Custom applications are the primary draw for users of LedgerSMB. All basic accounting functions are included along with ERP features. Other programs can be integrated because of the software’s open architecture and the plethora of consultants and developers.
GnuCash – Anyone with a checking account has sufficient accounting knowledge to use GnuCash. This simple program is helpful for anyone with a business interest that can be reported on a Schedule C tax form.
SOLUTIONS SHOULD MATCH NEEDS
Investments in high-end software are not necessary when so many affordable choices are available. Business decision makers are wise to assess the business need and obtain the appropriate software as mentioned in this Intro Guide to Business Accounting Software.
Related Resource: How to Choose Small Business Accounting Software