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14 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing Accounting Software

Small business accounting is no joke. When it comes to managing a small business’ financial health, one slip-up or mistake can cost more than you bargained for. For that reason, business owners need to have reliable and comprehensive accounting tools at their disposal to help them with the company’s finances.

Many business owners turn to accounting and bookkeeping software to help them cover their accounting needs. If you’re in the market for such a tool for your small business, then here’s what you need to know when shopping the market for the right products.

These are the 14 questions you need to ask yourself as the business owner when conducting research to find your chosen software company.

1. Can Accounting Software Work for Both Cash and Accrual Accounting Methods?

Depending on the accounting method your small business uses to track its transactions and keep its accounts in order, you’ll need software that matches your system. Whether your small business uses cash or accrual accounting to recognize and record income, quality software should provide users with the ability to use both and can easily switch between one or the other if needed.

2. Does This Software System Have all of the Features I Need?

What software features does your business need? Many free accounting software downloads offer users a set of features to help them with their accounting needs. However, to obtain the full set of comprehensive features, your business will typically need to purchase the software and a subscription to the services.

If purchasing the software, businesses need to consider how these features can improve their internal processes on all fronts, not just the financial ones. Small business accounting software like QuickBooks Online helps companies with their workflow management, invoicing, payment processing, and more.

There are even add-on features like employee scheduling and time tracking and payroll processing, offering small businesses all the tools they need to succeed.

3. Is There Room to Grow?

One of the worst things a small business owner can do is integrate software into their internal infrastructure only to realize it can’t scale with the company’s growth. Therefore, software scalability should weigh heavily in your decision. Does the product have the capacity to grow with you and cover new functions and requirements necessary for expansion? Are there add ons and other software options that you can use down the line when you need them most?

4. Can the Business Owner Share Information With Those Who Need it?

Whether providing accounting information to professional accountant consultants or showing business insight to your employees, having the ability to share necessary data through the software is always helpful. So you will want to ask yourself if this accounting software used in Canada can share access and data easily with your employees or outside service providers- whether that’s multi-user capability, downloadable reports, through email, or electronic invoicing.

5. Can you Restrict Access to Users?

On the same note as sharing access to information, can you also deny data access to users? As accounting software offers multi-user capabilities to allow small business owners to share their accounts with their workers, they also need a way to manage and restrict user access to other facets of the software platform.

Therefore, does this software allow business owners and primary account users to monitor other users on the account, including employee access? By ensuring that user restrictions are in place, you can add another security layer to your financial data.

6. What are Other Small Businesses Saying About this Software?

It’s always a good idea to look at reviews while shopping around for products. Many businesses will try free accounting software downloads and paid packages before you, so look at what their experiences were like. So before you settle on a purchase, see what other similar companies say about it.

Also, take a look at the user base- is the software option you’re considering known by millions of businesses and self-employed individuals, or is it relatively unknown in the market? A well-known and reviewed brand is more likely to offer trustworthy services and support. Software like Intuit’s QuickBooks boasts millions of users worldwide and possesses high review rates, so you know it is a reputable product.

7. Is the Software Cloud-Capable?

Cloud based software should be an essential factor in your decision as there are many benefits to cloud computing. Cloud accounting software allows users to access their financial data from anywhere in the world, at any time. Gone are the days when a software was locally downloaded onto a computer and could not be accessed without first being installed on the device. Now, users can access their pertinent account data from any device that uses the internet.

Cloud capabilities also allow automatic updates, so you won’t need to reinstall new features or bug patches. And small businesses won’t have to worry about losing their important accounting data should their desktop or device break down, as accounts are automatically saved to cloud storage to help protect against lost information.

8. Does This Brand Offer CRA Certified Software?

Do these accounting software companies offer products that are certified by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and government? Businesses need CRA certified software if they wish to use the accounting features for their tax return filing. Government compliant software is necessary when configuring income tax returns and submitting them to the CRA’s NETFILE portal.

9. Is There a Reporting Function to Help with Business Insight?

Can your chosen software provide valuable business insight into your financial health? Generating financial reports and statements, like the needed income statement and cash flow statement, is a huge part of the accounting process, so you will need software that provides these functions to your business. The reporting feature should also be able to configure professional layouts and summaries to share information internally and externally.

10. Can it Sync with Other Apps and Software?

Multi-app integration is a necessary feature if your small business uses multiple software to operate. As accounting covers all aspects of a business’ finances, it needs to be connected to your other internal process systems to ensure the accurate tracking of such things.

App syncing allows you to connect software solutions to other needed platforms, such as inventory management, payroll, e-commerce functions, time and employee tracking, and other industry-related applications. Before settling on the accounting product, make sure it offers an app marketplace that displays all the various applications the product can sync to and integrate with to cover all your needs.

11. Does this Accounting Software Work on all Platforms?

Whatever computing software your small business runs on, you will need an accounting system that can operate using that platform. Whether that’s Windows, Mac, or Linux, finding an accounting tool that works on your established software is necessary. Otherwise, how can you take advantage of this vital tool if it won’t work with your current operating system?

12. Will My Financial Data be Secure?

Do these accounting software companies offer products that are secure and protected against hacking and phishing for your organization? Since accounting software deals with private financial data and links directly to bank accounts, these tools need to have enough security measures to protect against outside threats, especially as these harmful schemes are on the rise in this technological era.

Therefore, your business will need a product from a software supplier that uses data encryption and backups to keep your customer contacts, accounting data, and financial information safe from prying eyes.

13. Does the Software Brand Offer Customer Support and Resources?

Accounting software used in Canada should always offer expert customer support to their clients. If something is ever wrong with the software, you will need to be able to easily access the brand’s support network and a customer service representative to fix such issues. Your chosen accounting software provider should also offer various small business resources to provide knowledge and industry-specific information to help companies thrive.

14. Can I Afford the Monthly Cost?

Finally, when deciding on your chosen software, make sure you can afford the monthly subscription fees to their services. The software won’t do your business any good if you can only afford it for half of a fiscal year, so you will need to ensure you have the operating budget to cover your chosen accounting package costs in the future.

Your business can find affordable pricing for a full set of comprehensive tools by enlisting the help of accounting software companies like Intuit. This Canadian brand offers quality accounting software at an accessible price.

Small businesses can take advantage of the free accounting software downloads as QuickBooks now offers a free trial to all potential customers. Sign up for your free trial and experience the accounting powers of QuickBooks Online to help you improve your business’ finances today.

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