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Buying an accounting software package

Investing in the right solution to monitor all the investments, earnings and expenditures of a company is certainly one of the key investment decisions to make.

Business accounting software products are exactly here for this purpose: helping business executives and accountants follow the financial standing of a company at any time, and possibly in real time, with as many detailed reports as possible just a few clicks away.

Here are the few important criteria that prospective buyers should carefully take a look into when choosing their accounting software, and which are more fully detailed in this guide.

What does the software do?

Different organisations have different needs, and different accounting software programs have different features:

- Spreadsheet programs may be used as limited accounting software,

- Horizontal accounting software packages fulfil all the common, general accounting needs of most companies, like invoicing, profit and loss reporting, expense tracking, connection to a bank account, estimates etc.,

- Vertical software has additional features and customisations to cater for the specific accounting needs of some business sectors like real estate, banking or… accounting,

- Business management software blur the lines between accounting software, enterprise resource planning software, customer relationship software and attempt to propose an all-inclusive package for all business software needs.

Online or offline?

As with other software, the “cloud” has deeply changed the accounting software market. It’s now possible to run a capable user-friendly, hassle-free software product right from the browser of any internet-connected machine, with minimal initial investment. But these software products have their limitations.

What’s the business software environment within the organisation?

A program just for accounting will very likely not be the only business software used by an organisation. Prospective users therefore have to consider the issues of data moving and data exchange with other programs used within their organisation, most notably CRM and payroll management software.

How much are you willing to invest?

This question relates not only to the price of the software package, but more generally to the usage cost. When traditional major software vendors still sell their solutions for thousands of dollars per year, cloud-based pure players have brought in many products which usually cost between £10 and £40 per month, depending on included features. Free software is also available. Usage costs include training, upgrades, updates, support, customisations…

Which vendors are the most recommendable?

After all these considerations have been taken into account, what’s the best accounting software product? As explained above, the rise of cloud computing has introduced many new players into the market. Besides the traditional vendors like Microsoft or Oracle, this guide has detailed information about newer players like Kashflow, FreeAgent, Sage One, Xero accounting or Intuit Quickbooks.