Imagine if you went to the car dealership looking for an affordable, safe sedan to get back and forth from your job, and you somehow drove home in a $150,000 tractor-trailer cab.
You’d probably feel pretty confused, upset, and broke.
But if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might be at a financial loss and lose precious working hours.
This is especially true for business software buyers and vendors.
Software providers are in the business of selling, and if a small business is interested in enterprise-level accounting software, that vendor is likely to make a convincing case that their software is a good fit for that small business.
That’s why it’s important that small businesses know what to look for ahead of time when they’re in the market for new accounting software.
At Software Advice, we’re in the business of helping small businesses find the best software for their needs. Whatever your specific situation, there’s a very good chance we’ve seen something similar. We’ll use our experience to share the three most important things businesses must look for in their accounting software, along with tips to help you narrow down the search.
Let’s get started.
Accounting software must be easy to use
As a small business, you likely don’t have an accounting team to handle complicated and unintuitive accounting software. More likely, you probably have one person (maybe it’s you) who has to spend an extra hour every day handling the bookkeeping. And every extra hour spent on bookkeeping is one less hour that you could be using to grow your business or spending time with your family. That’s why your accounting software should be as easy to use as possible.
What to look for in easy to use accounting software:
Verified reviews can be helpful in finding accounting software that users find easy to use, but to truly gauge a tool, it’s important to demo the software yourself. Most accounting software vendors either offer a free trial to let teams demo the software at their own pace or through a guided demo to explore the interface.
Follow these steps for a successful accounting software demo:
- Use an accounting software directory or get free guidance to come up with your shortlist of accounting systems.
- Assemble a team of representatives from your small business who will be using the software regularly.
- Come up with a list of tasks (preparing monthly reports, sending invoices, running payroll) that you’ll be using the accounting software for.
- Walk through those tasks with your team, making note of any difficulties and pain points.
By the time you’ve gone through several demos, you’ll have a better feel for how easy to use one system is compared to another. Just remember that you’ll be using this system regularly, so don’t settle for “I’m sure it’ll work better once we get used to it…”
Accounting software must have reliable, responsive customer service and support
Large companies and corporations have IT departments that can troubleshoot and solve technical issues as they arise. Your small business likely doesn’t have that luxury. That’s why it’s important that your accounting software has helpful, responsive technical support when you inevitably run into trouble.
What to look for in accounting software with good customer service and support:
It’s hard to truly test a system’s customer support yourself until you actually run into a problem and seek assistance firsthand. But the night before paychecks go out isn’t a great time to find out whether your new accounting software’s customer service is aces or a total dud.
This is where the wisdom of the crowd is a major asset. Our accounting software profiles feature ratings for ease of use, value, functionality, and customer support based on verified user reviews.
Accounting software must be affordable
While it’s never wise to skimp on your business software, especially an accounting system that you’ll be using on a daily basis, it’s equally unwise for small businesses to spend more of their limited budget than they need to. Small businesses can overspend on accounting software by adding features that they don’t need and won’t use, or by paying for accounting software that is designed for much larger businesses and priced accordingly.
What to look for in affordable accounting software:
When making any purchase, it’s important to make a budget and stick to it. Ask your vendor about additional costs, like setup and customization fees, to make sure you’re not missing anything. There are even free accounting solutions for businesses on a very limited budget. But keep in mind that free software typically has a limit on users and/or features.
Choosing the right software for your business doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark
Buying accounting software can be overwhelming, and while the cost of a wrong decision can be devastating, selecting the right software can be a game-changer for your business.
Here are some additional resources to help enlighten you in your search for the right accounting software!
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.