5 Steps for Choosing Accounting Software

Find the Right Accounting Software Before You Buy

Business colleagues looking at computer
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You can use this accounting software selection checklist to help you find the right accounting software before you buy. Few small businesses invest a significant amount of time and resources into asking the right questions before selecting the accounting software program to ensure that the best choice is made for their business. Instead, the choice of accounting software is usually rushed, given little, if any, thought as to whether there are better alternatives.

If you are choosing an accounting software application for your small business, or considering upgrading or changing software programs, then you can use this accounting software selection checklist as a resource to follow a few steps outlined below to help you find the right accounting software program for your small business.

Step 1

You should solicit feedback from all your employees who will be using the accounting software program in any significant way so that they can help give you input as to whether the software will meet their needs. If your small business is large enough, with different departments or divisions, you can form a technology committee that has at least one representative from each significant department or division evaluate the software programs that you will consider purchasing.

Step 2

You should have each employee or representative in the technology committee prepare a needs analysis and a flowchart of their significant processes.

The needs analysis should be a list of the requirements that each employee or department needs to conduct its day-to-day tasks. The needs analysis will outline the requirements that you have for you accounting software, which you can provide to your vendor to help ascertain whether the software package meets your requirements.

The flowcharts will give you a visual of the internal processes that your employees are using to perform their tasks. The flowcharts will be useful for at least a few reasons: (1) you will find that certain steps can be eliminated to streamline your operations and save your company time and money; (2) you will be able to see what steps are currently being performed manually to see if the accounting software you are considering purchasing will help to automate these tasks; and (3) you can use these flowcharts as a basis for creating or updating your company’s policies and procedures manuals or employee’s desktop procedures at this time.

Step 3

You should establish a budget for your accounting software. I recommend establishing a budget as a range of prices that you will consider purchasing ​because you may find that a more expensive accounting software application will automate more tasks so its increased costs can be justified.

Step 4

You can have your employees or technology committee identify potential accounting software programs that meet your needs so you can take a closer look at these programs. You may want to consider consulting with independent professionals, such as technology consultants and certified public accountants to solicit their opinion about possible programs that might meet your needs.

The accountant will have knowledge and experience of what other small businesses are using and may have experience using different accounting software programs as an end user. The technology consultant may be able to give you an idea of any major technology issues you might encounter when implementing a new accounting software program based on the specifications, such as whether it is compatible with other outside programs you need for your business or new hardware you may need to ensure that the program runs properly that may factor into your decision-making process.

Step 5 

You should demo any accounting software program that is on your short list to purchase to ensure that it will meet your needs. You may be able to request a free trial of the program as well if you contact the vendor. You can have your employees run their day-to-day tasks on the trial version so you will get an even better idea on how the software stacks up against its competitors.

You can follow these steps to help guide you to the right choice of accounting software programs for your small business.