What Accounting Software is Best For Your Business?
Accounting software is a business necessity, and because you can obtain simple, basic versions free from multiple sources, there’s no reason for your company not to leverage it. Basically, accounting software uses your computer to handle all of the basic book keeping functions, including paying bills, creating invoices, and tracking cash in and out.
Bigger or more complex companies will require more capabilities than are provided by the free programs, however, and there are many different packages on the market, with a wide range of features and functions, including quite a few that go far beyond mere book keeping, and offer fully integrated organization management and automation features.
A general overview of the available types of accounting software and their functions:
Free: This book keeping software typically provides only basic functions, such as entering purchase invoices, paying bills, creating sales invoices, entering cash receipts, bank account reconciliation, and maybe some simple budgeting. It’s usually cash basis only, and often can accommodate only one person at a time using it. Some free software packages are limited versions of commercial software, others are true freeware. Help is often limited to non-existent.
Entry-Level: Entry-level or micro business software typically costs under $100, and includes comparable options to the free software, plus usually much better technical assistance, and often some additional features such as inventory management, some CRM functions, basic project tracking, and so on. Very small business software tailored to a specific industry is sometimes available, especially for industries such as real estate or trucking that have well-defined and consistent requirements, and a large volume of potential buyers.
Small Business: This varies from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and typically includes all basic book keeping functions plus multi-user capabilities, good help desk support, cash or accrual accounting options, and many additional business options. At this level a range of worthwhile industry-specific programs are available, and quite a few general programs include optional add-on modules to handle warehousing, inventory, jobs, CRM, or other specific functions.
Mid-Market: This level of accounting and ERP software brings a much larger range of choices, with commensurately higher price tags. Typical prices can range anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000, depending on the number of users and the range and complexity of features. Mid-market software should include a highly configurable and customizable solution that can be easily tailored to your needs, with built in or optional modules to handle almost any business activity.
Large Business: Half a million dollars and up gets your large business accounting software solutions that can range from simply mid-market packages scaled up to handle more users, to specifically tailored packages for large-scale multi-nationals.
No matter what the size or type of your business, there are accounting packages that will meet your needs. It is important to choose with care, since this is a critical piece of infrastructure. Your software should fit your requirements now, but you also need software that will grow with you as you grow, and that will make it easy to migrate your accounting data if and when you need to move to a more robust solution. You need a solution that fits your business processes but won’t straightjacket you if those processes change. And most critically, you need to prioritize features and functions to get the best possible value for your dollar.