What to Look for in Business Accounting Packages
Most businesses will–at some point–have to upgrade the accounting package or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system they use. And many times, this isn’t because they chose poorly, but that they outgrew what it was capable of.
Depending on how many years you have been using your current system, looking at new business accounting packages can intimidate and overwhelm. However, even if the need to upgrade is urgent, an organised approach is still possible and won’t leave you regretting your choice months down the line.
Look for Features You Need
ERP systems have changed over the last few years, becoming more accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses, and offering so much more than a traditional business accounting package. Sure, you need standard features such as a General Ledger, cashbook, debtors, creditors, orders, and payroll. But with an ERP solution, you’re also getting solid customer relationship management, comprehensive inventory management, and business insights that take all aspects of your business into account.
But this is also where new accounting software can overwhelm, presenting you with a long list of included features in ways that make it seem your business will fail without them. Better to compile your own list of features you must have, features that would be nice but aren’t essential, and features you have no need for:
- Do you need to perform job and/or time costing?
- What about better inventory management, right down to batch tracking, and management of stock levels of raw materials?
- Do you need to charge customers different prices based on various factors?
- What about supporting foreign currencies for when some of your suppliers are based overseas?
Don’t forget to list features specific to your industry, along with features that account for local legislation and regulation, particularly around taxation and payroll and employee management. The ideal accounting package will be one that is modular: available with several core features by default, with more specialised modules available as optional add-ons. This prevents the software from being bloated, and you from paying for features you don’t need.
Finally, remember also to consider whether your bank supports the system, so you are better able to reconcile bank statements automatically, and whether you can restrict access to the system based on each employee’s role. There is no reason for your Payroll Manager to have access to inventory management features, while your Sales Manager doesn’t need access to the personal details of your employees.
Look for Hidden Costs
There are several ways that a new software package could include hidden costs. The most common of these are paid upgrades for on-premise deployments, which should be expected with major version upgrades but not for minor updates and security patches.
However, there are other costs you need to look out for, such as the cost–and ease–of support:
- Are you expected to pay a fixed monthly fee for support, even if you don’t need it?
- If online or telephonic support cannot resolve the issue, how quickly is someone able to come out to your premises for advanced support?
And obviously, there is also paying for features. You should expect to pay for more specialised features, but you shouldn’t have to pay separately for core features found in most basic accounting packages.
Determine Complexity and Scalability
The complexity of any accounting packages you consider should be looked at from multiple angles:
- How complex is the system to use? Don’t look only at the traditional accounting portion of the system, but also at the features other employees would use.
- How easy is it to integrate the system with other systems you already use? Even the most robust ERP solutions would need to integrate with a few other systems.
- Similarly, how easy will it be to implement or switch to the new package? Would it require extensive training for all employees that will use it?
- Don’t forget about the system supporting Australian business and tax related legislature and regulations. From being Single Touch Payroll (STP) enabled, through to how easily you can extract relevant information and reports when lodging your quarterly Business Activity Statements (BAS). You shouldn’t have to carry out large-scale modifications and customisations in order for the package to conform to the needs of an Australian business.
Something that adheres to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) is ideal for finance management, but you also need to consider the modules and features meant for other areas of your business.
Reserve your space for regularly scheduled Tencia online demonstrations to learn more about the features of this leading accounting package and get first-hand exposure to the ease-of-use found throughout.
Scalability is also very important, as you want something that will grow with your business for more than a few years at least. This can be found not only in the volume of transactions and products it supports out-the-box, but also in its ability to support multiple branches, offices, or warehouses, and easily grow to accommodate more employees.
Ask About Support Options
All software requires support at some point, and while you would want to avoid any accounting package that requires constant support, you should also not accept any that offer minimal support. Ask:
- If support is included in the package’s cost, and if not, how is support billed.
- Look at what types of support are offered. Telephonic and online/remote should be standard, but on-site support should also be offered for something as critical as financial and inventory management.
With Business Partners in all major cities across Australia, support for Tencia is little more than a call away.