10 questions to ask before purchasing accounting software
August 26, 2015

Accounting software can help accountants better manage their clients' finances. However, with many different options on the market today promising a variety of benefits, accountants may be overwhelmed when it comes to choosing the best platform for their businesses. Here are several insights to consider when choosing accounting software: 

How quickly is the business growing?
Often, business owners ask their accountants to invest in accounting software when companies begin to grow. Increased revenue and an expanding staff means more financial strategies need to be in place. Take a close look at your current business needs and where it will be in one year, in five years and further down the line based on projections available. This will inform a great deal of the decision-making process, according to Merchant Maverick.

What types of data does it store?
A high-quality accounting software program will store customer, vendor and the company's financial records. Business News Daily stated any platform worth investing in will provide storage capabilities for customer contact information and past orders. Also, vendor contacts should be easily accessible, preferably along with purchase histories to streamline reordering. 

Can it integrate third-party operational systems?
Many organizations already utilize enterprise resource planning or point-of-sale software. If this is the case, a new accounting platform must be able to seamlessly integrate these programs. Without integration, the systems won't work together, and accountants could find themselves in a complete digital mess without a clear path to manage fiscal health.

Does the platform help ensure compliance?
Companies have to adhere to government regulations on both state and federal levels. Any system that doesn't offer compliance assistance or preliminary legwork when it comes to tax laws and generally accepted accounting principals likely isn't worth it.

Is it intuitive and easy to use?
Whenever possible, accountants should inquire if a free trial is available for a potential accounting software platform. This allows the staff who will actually use the program on a daily basis to get their feet wet. If the platform isn't intuitive or overly complicates simple tasks, accountants should look into alternative options.

Does it provide users with mobile access?
In 2015, consumers from all industries value products that enable them to access documents remotely through any device. Mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are increasing in popularity. A quality program is mobile-friendly and allows users to work on documents, update profiles or complete tasks remotely when needed.

Is the software local or Web-based?
A locally installed software platform may serve large, established corporations better than small, rapidly growing companies. Local installation could offer more features, while cloud-based platforms provide the mobile access that many companies seek today.

Does it deal with multiple currencies?
Any company with international clients or interested in building relationships in other parts of the world should investigate multiple currency options in accounting software. An automated process that can perform conversions quickly and makes handling multiple currencies more straightforward could be an enormously helpful feature.

Is data regularly backed up?
Financial, consumer and vendor data stored in an accounting software program must be backed up regularly. Any platform without a robust system for saving data and retrieving it in the event that a system fails isn't a strong candidate. If data is backed up, the process and frequency should also factor into an accountant's decision. 

How are errors handled?
Sage recommends accountants question how an accounting software program will track changes made to records, account for inconsistencies and prevent users from making mistakes, both deliberately and on accident. This can make or break an accounting department's ability to maintain accuracy and integrity. 

Nexus: G-WEBCD2