Which Accounting Software is Best for You? 7 quick tips for choosing the package that's right for your business.

By Pam Newman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When it comes to choosing the best accounting or bookkeeping software for your business, the good news is, you've got a lot of options. So how do you decide which one will works best for you? The answer depends on your business needs.

There are two main types of accounting software: industry specific and generic. While the industry specific options will offer more customizable features, it's often more expensive to both purchase and obtain ongoing support. Generic software generally offers the best option for entrepreneurs because you're able to save money on the front end by buying a less-expensive package as well as find less expensive, local, ongoing support to help you customize it to meet your specific business needs.

To help you choose the best accounting package for your business, here are a few specific things you need to consider while you're doing your research:

The size of your business. A business that generates $50,000 in sales each year has very different needs than a multimillion-dollar business. If you're a smaller firm, don't overbuy when it comes to software because you'll only get something more complicated than you need.

The industry you're in. What industry is your business in? Some industries have specialized software you may want to consider purchasing since it's been designed with your specific needs in mind. Most of the time, industry specific software will be more expensive, but the benefits may outweigh the costs so be sure to do your research before buying anything.

The components you need. What components do you want within the software? Some software is very basic, having just simple checkbook features; others include such modules as budgeting, invoicing, online banking interfaces, credit card processing and so on.

Available support. Purchasing the software is only the first step in the process. It's important that you have available support, which may include local consultants, internet support, phone support, training options and more.

Financial resources. What financial resources do you have for your investment in the software? Every investment that you make in your business has a cost-benefit analysis you need to consider. When researching the software options available to you, consider which one offers the best fit for your needs with the best dollar value.

Professional recommendations. It's important that your accountant support your software purchase as he or she will often be one of the resources you'll rely on during the set-up of the program. In addition, your accountant should confirm that they're able to rely upon the data that's being provided by the software in order to prepare any reports or provide any information you need.

Unfortunately, there are some packages on the market that don't really function well from an accounting perspective. What you might want to do is look for an accountant who supports the software you've purchased so they're a better fit for your business. Based on your situation; you can choose either the professional or the software first and then search for the other part of the equation. Either way is okay: The key thing is that both parts work well together to contribute to the overall success of your business.

Ease of use. When it comes to choosing software, this aspect is often overlooked, but it's one that's extremely important to take into account. No matter how great the software or how inexpensive, if it's too cumbersome or hard to learn, you won't use it. So don't go overboard by purchasing a package that offers extra things your company doesn't really need. Keep it simple, stay focused on your business's needs, and look for those programs that have easy interfaces and offer possible upgrades as your business expands.

These seven aspects should play a critical part in your research and purchase of an accounting package for your business. Remember, it's important that you find the right tool to assist you in the management of your business, and cost should not be the only critical factor you take into account. It's more important to find the right fit based upon need of the business and ease of use.

My last piece of advice: It's easy to get frustrated with any new software package, so be diligent about the implementation of it and know that there'll be a learning curve. The benefit will be that you'll have an organized financial system that can provide quality financial data for you to utilize as you grow your business.

Pam Newman is a Certified Management Accountant, author and Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor for Financial and Point-of-Sale software. She is also president of RPPC, Inc., which provides customized business development services.

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