Business owners have enough on their plate without the added stress of selecting a new cloud-based accounting platform. But choosing your next accounting software doesn’t need to be an endless project that demands your constant attention. Approach the process in the right way, and you’ll reap the benefits of a new system in no time.
Organize Your Search
Before embarking on an extensive search to find the right accounting software, get the lay of the land. Put together a quick spreadsheet to start assessing your options. Organize your notes and maintain a chart of features for each platform to help keep the options and features straight.
Features: Friend or Foe?
Having an abundance of features available can look enticing in a software ad, but don’t allow them to lure you in if they aren’t pertinent to your company’s operations. When evaluating the available features, consider separating your list into “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves.”
Software with built-in payroll capabilities, inventory management systems, and complex billing options won’t get you far if your actual needs are for CRM integrations and multiple currency capabilities that aren't available.
System Controls and Access
Confidence in who has access to your overall system, as well as specific data levels, is a must. Evaluate platform controls and access in these four key areas:
· User Management: Does the platform allow you to authorize more than one user or revoke access if needed? Can you assign user roles to limit access to specific platform areas? Not every business will need or want this level of control, but if you do, make sure it’s on your list to review.
· Customer data: Securely maintaining and purging customer records is vital. If your bookkeeping system incorporates payment abilities, learn how the vendor encrypts and safeguards the data on your behalf.
· Integrations: All entry and exit points of software systems represent potential areas of vulnerability. Do your due diligence and ask questions until you’re comfortable with the security of the integration points.
· System backups: Cloud-based applications typically have automated backups available to users should they need to be restored. Learn and become comfortable with the storage location of the backup files for the system you select.
One of the challenges when evaluating the cost of online accounting software is how the unique pricing models, number of activities, and integration costs affect the overall cost of the software. Consider the following:
· Monthly and annual subscriptions are often available. Longer contracts typically provide savings for the users.
· Many companies offer groups of services billed at different monthly rates. If you need one feature from the next level, ask if it can be added a la carte.
· Some software integrations, such as payroll processing, may involve an additional monthly cost.
Jump in Headfirst
After you’ve narrowed your search to two or three options, give each a fair shot. Avoid analysis paralysis and take advantage of free trials.
Feature lists, support networks, and customization options are great, but until you get into the weeds and use the software, you may not learn it has a user interface you just can’t live with or that their bank reconciliation process allows you to match up transactions quickly.
The Myth About the Optimal Match
The truth is many online accounting platforms could work great for your business. Until you take the plunge and move forward with one, you will never know how much time can be freed up through automation and streamlined, consistent report templates.
Changing software systems, particularly those that operate in the cloud, are seldom irreversible decisions. An insightful evaluation process can push you toward receiving immediate benefits with little downside that can’t be easily corrected.
Every business has unique needs and varying capacity to implement cloud-based software. Do you need guidance in evaluating your next platform? Contact our team today!