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10 smart questions to ask: A guide for choosing accounting software

Starting a business? You'll need software for your accounts. Get your free guide for 10 smart questions to ask before choosing accounting software.

There’s no getting away from admin chores and, if you’re starting a business or are at the helm of a growing company, you’ll need software to manage your accounts. But there’s an incredible amount of choice. Where do you start?

To help you, we’ve created 10 smart questions that you should ask before you choose accounting software. To find the answers, download our guide: 10 things to look for in small business accounting software.

The guide highlights 10 requirements that businesses have, such as managing cash flow and taxes, and then explains what accounting software features are typically available to meet those needs.

Some of these features are simple, such as making sure you have access to your data and business insights whenever you need to, including when you’re out of the office. Some are less obvious, such as the level of support you might get in those crucial early days when you first introduce the software to your business.

The advice in the guide is backed up by expert input from leading business coaches, accountants and experts, including business startup coach Caroline Baxter and Paul Donno, the managing director of accountancy practice 1 Accounts.

Ultimately, getting the right software can create space for your passion and enable you to make your business a success. It can make the job of running your business easier, so you can spend more time on the core tasks that will help you grow your company.

Spending just a few minutes reading this guide could make all the difference.

10 things to look for in small business accounting software includes:

  • Questions to ask any software vendor before you purchase
  • How to evaluate software to meet your needs today – and tomorrow
  • Ensuring your business is compliant with laws and regulations
  • Making sure everybody in your business can benefit from your choice of software
  • Understanding the technology and technological terms

10 things to look for in small business accounting software

Using the right technology can give you the time and space to make your business a success. This guide offers 10 points to consider when looking for the right accounting software for your company.

Get your free guide

Excerpts from 10 things to look for in small business accounting software

1. Are your data and insights available everywhere you are?

Many of us are guilty of checking our email as soon as we wake up, thanks to mobile devices such as phones or tablets. Coupled with cloud technology that makes our data available anywhere we need it, mobile technology has massively expanded the way we access that personal data.

This same tech revolution has swept up businesses too. And why not? Why shouldn’t you be able to access your business data from a coffee shop, or on a train to see a client, thanks to the exact same mobile technology we use in our personal lives?

Whoever said the four walls of the office should be the only place where a business can exist? Who would even say you need an office to run a business nowadays?

Mobile phones, tablets and on any web browser – with the best cloud-enabled accounting software packages, your data is literally always at your fingertips. And don’t think you’re getting a cut-down experience.

With the best cloud accounting software you can do the same tasks you’ve always done but in a fraction of the time, meaning you have more time to focus on growing your business. Want to make a note of your expenses while on the road?

No problem, just take a photo of a receipt and you’re done. You can even take care of your VAT return while grabbing a burger.

Yet it’s not just about the financial data, reports and dashboards being available anywhere. It’s about the data and insights you need being available at any time of the day.

Ok, so few of us want to be filing our year-ends just before nodding off to sleep, yet the ability to send an invoice or chase a payment while you’re on the train home, or in the dentist’s waiting room, means you save time and enhance your effectiveness.

This frees up time during the working day for you to be able to get on with the core tasks of your business – the very things that made you want to start your business in the first place.

Business startup coach, serial entrepreneur and author Caroline Baxter says: “Today’s fast-paced business environment means small business owners need access to information on the go – less time at the desk and more time getting accounting tasks done while on the move.

“With the ever-changing technology race, it is imperative for any business owner to use software that is user-friendly, easy to use on any device and portable – which is to say, in the cloud.”

Questions to ask your software vendor:

  • Does the software work on a mobile phone?
  • Can I access my data and get insights at any time of the day – or night?

2. Will it help get value from my accountant?

Although the right accountancy software helps take care of day-to-day financial matters within a business, an accountant or bookkeeper still remains an essential component of most businesses. They understand the complex language of tax and regulations, and their value can be far above that of simple number crunching.

Most have vast experience of businesses and the way they work, and are happy to share this.

Perhaps surprisingly, the very best accounting package will help you get the very best value out of your accountant. By allowing access to your financial data for your accountant via the cloud, your accountant also has the same 24/7 view of your finances as you do.

With this level of access, your accountant can use their experience and expertise to spot issues with your business finances, perhaps before you even become aware of them.

They can use this perspective to advise you on issues of growth, or to overcome a particular hurdle. Sometimes they’re able to spot opportunities too.

The results can be transformative to a company’s fortunes.

Paul Donno, an accountant and the managing director of 1 Accounts, says: “Cloud-based software allows us to be an integral part of our clients’ businesses. We become a trusted adviser.

“We comment on trends and business performance and this helps our client to know where they are. Our software alerts us on certain triggers agreed with a client, so we can be proactive in real time.”

Questions to ask your software vendor:

  • Does the accounting software enable multiple users, so bookkeepers or accountants can access the accounts?
  • What accounting package does my accountant recommend?

10 things to look for in small business accounting software

Using the right technology can give you the time and space to make your business a success. This guide offers 10 points to consider when looking for the right accounting software for your company.

Get your free guide