Accounting software: how to choose the right option for your business

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accounting software user
Accounting
Principal & Head of Accounting
May 2, 2022
10
minute read

We take a look at the best accounting software for small businesses, and how to choose the right platform that meets your needs

We understand that there can be some hesitation around migrating to a new accounting platform.

But in our experience, that hesitation is completely unfounded. So, in this article, we aim to show you how choosing the right cloud-based accounting software platform can change your life.

Looking to implement a new accounting software platform for your business? Liston Newton Advisory is here to help. Our expert accountants can help you streamline your accounting processes—and possibly even change your life.

Why get Accounting Software?

Small business accounting software isn’t just nice to have. It streamlines how your business operates its accounting entirely. So choosing the right platform can be the key to successful business growth.

But why should you get accounting software?

Put simply, it makes your accounting easy. It helps to consolidate and simplify your accounting practices across the board.

Every good software platform will provide all the necessary features for running and managing your business, and its finances, in one complete package.

But there are a lot of them out there. Each one provides differing paths that offer you improved flexibility, more comprehensive analysis, and powerful reporting features.

So it’s a matter of finding the right accounting software platform that fits with your business, with features that meet your requirements.

What to ask when investigating accounting software

If you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for, here are some deciding questions to ask when looking at getting accounting software for your business.

  • Where do we need to streamline our accounting? What’s holding us back? Look at activities like reporting, payroll, PAYG withholding, invoicing and billing, and similar. If these activities take up valuable time throughout your day, then it’s highly likely that accounting software can help to simplify your processes.
  • What key accounting activities do we perform daily? It’s important that your new accounting software actually meets your business requirements. Don’t just go with the cheaper option as a way to manage budget. Work out exactly what you need to perform, and then base your decision on this.
  • How many employees work for the business? Some platforms are better suited to small businesses, while others provide usability for 100+ employees.
  • How big is my business? Is it looking to grow? Ensure you choose a platform that’s built to enable growth, and can scale as your business does.
  • How much are we willing to spend to streamline our accounting activities? Similar to understanding the key functionalities of your software, cost is also a big one. However, when looking at cost, don’t just focus on the face value. Instead, think about how much time and money streamlining your activities can save you in the long run.

Key considerations to look for when choosing business accounting software

The right features are the ones that help your business improve how you manage your accounting. However, there are some key considerations you need to think about when choosing your business accounting software.

Cloud capabilities

Cloud capabilities mean you can access your accounting software on any operating system, all through a browser window. You’re not tied down to a specific program or intranet. Software-as-a-Service solutions commonly include all of the traditional features of an accounting software package but provide the ‘anytime, anywhere’ benefit along with the ease of access for new users. This means you can undertake your accounting anywhere, at any time, all over the internet—making your accounting super simplified.

Cost

Ultimately, your business needs to make a choice that is financially sound. The good news is that most accounting software platforms offer different cost options. These range from a set monthly fee, to a per-user rate, meaning there’s bound to be a cost that suits your business.

Standalone platform / Add-ons

Does the accounting platform do everything in one package? Or does it have add-on packages you need to purchase in order to perform each functionality? Most common accounting software platforms closely integrate with other key software solutions. However, consideration should be given to the value of a standalone and scalable accounting software solution. Although the standalone system is easier to subscribe and manage, they are often rigid and complex in comparison to a basic software package with purpose-selected add ons.

Reporting and analysis

One key feature to look for is in-depth reporting and analysis tools. This allows you to better understand and get an overview of every element of your business, so you can make more informed decisions.

Chart of Accounts / General Ledger

A clear, comprehensive list of all the accounts your business interacts with is crucial. A good accounting platform will provide you with a snapshot of all the assets, liabilities, revenue, and expenses held against this account.

AP/AR functionality

Streamlined AP and AR functionality is a huge time-saver for your business. All good accounting software will have a function that simplifies this for you, which is almost worth the money itself.

Automation

One of the key features to look for is automation. It allows you to reduce manual processing, and eliminate duplicated entries or discrepancies, all while drastically cutting the time it takes to perform your daily accounting tasks.

Multi-currency

As a growing business it’s likely that you interact with overseas clients or suppliers. So make sure your accounting software has multi-currency functionality built in.

Time and expense management

Time and expense management features enable you to consolidate your employee timesheets, project tracking, and business spending all in one central platform.

Budget and forecasting

With all your accounting data together in one place, your accounting software should be able to turn this information into a clear budget. It should also have the ability to create accurate forecasts that enable long-term decisions.

The most popular accounting platforms on the market

There’s a wide variety of accounting software platforms out there, each of which perform a range of tasks suitable for different business types.

There’s a reason the most popular accounting platforms have garnered their reputation: they’re the most reliable, with the widest range of functions.

Below are the most popular accounting platforms on the market today. Each of which we can help you implement as an accounting solution for your business.

Xero

Xero is the innovator in the cloud accounting space. Their powerful platform is intuitive and easy to use, making it far easier to manage your day-to-day accounting. It also features a vast range of useful add-ons, so you can keep augmenting your service as much as you need, as your business evolves. Xero is ideal for businesses with heavy accounting needs.

Intuit QuickBooks

Intuit QuickBooks started as a desktop software platform, and for a long time has been a big player in the US market. Designed to be as easy to use as possible for small and medium businesses, the platform evolves as you start using it, allowing you to uncover more features as your needs grow.

MYOB

MYOB has been providing accounting services since 1991, and their experience shows. Their cloud accounting software comes with a range of user packages, and inventory management solutions that suit all different types of businesses.

At Liston Newton Advisory, we’re a Xero Platinum partner. This means we’ve been specifically chosen by the platform itself to deliver expert advice and support on how to use this software. As such, our platform of choice is Xero, and we can help you get the most out of implementing and using your Xero platform.

How much should you pay for accounting software?

While we can’t answer this question for you, we can help you understand how to think about pricing.

What you need out of your accounting platform ultimately depends on the number of employees you need to service. Different platforms have different ways of managing their pricing. Some allow a certain amount of users on the same licence, others charge per employee on your payroll.

For example:

  • Xero ranges from $27 per month for a basic sole trader package, up to $163 per month for their premium business package. This provides payroll services for up to 100 people, with $2 per extra employee after that.
  • MYOB starts at $24 per month for businesses just getting started, and scales up to $120 per month for their AccountRight Plus package. This package enables businesses to service unlimited employees.
  • Intuit Quickbooks has two pricing plans, one for self-employed, and one for businesses. The business pricing ranges from $22 per month per plan, up to $52 per month. This top tier plan allows accounting for up to 5 users.

The final word

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes in to selecting the right accounting software option for your business

And when looking to implement the transition to new accounting software, getting the right support is crucial to ensure that all your data remains accurate and intact.

The key thing is to make sure the platform suits your needs.

If you need help understanding what each platform can deliver for your business, Liston Newton Advisory is here to help. We can work with you to determine your key accounting activities, now and in the future. Then, we’ll guide you through a range of options that suit your requirements, and your budget. We can even implement the transition to your new accounting software for you.

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