Choosing an Accounts Package
But with the number of different accounts packages available, choosing the right solution can be daunting.
As with anything relating to IT (and any major business decision) planning is key.
If you are looking to move from paper records or simple Excel spreadsheets, then now is a perfect time to think about what you want from your accounts package. These days, accounts systems can do a lot more than raising invoices and reconciling the bank statement!
If you are looking to change your accounts system then write down what you like and dislike about your existing system and the additional features you require. Also consider how easy it is to export and import data from one system to the other and whether this will incur additional costs from the supplier or whether you will need external help to do this.
- If you manufacture, build items or hold items for sale, would some level of stock control or bill of materials system be useful?
- If you are a labour-based business then a system that allows you to allocate employees time to jobs and then calculate bills based upon those figures may be helpful.
- Do you require a purchase ledger side to your accounts? Not every company will need this if they do not resell items as part of their business.
- If you employ staff, would incorporating Payroll into your accounts package either save you outsourcing costs or time entering data into 2 systems or manual calculations? Make sure the system allows for Real Time Reporting to HMRC of payroll data and can manage end of year reporting.
- Are you VAT registered? If so, make sure the system you consider accounts for the different types of VAT reporting available and allows for online submissions
- Do you require a system that can cope with multiple currencies? Many do not do this as standard!
- Do you require a system which is installed locally on your PC or could you use a hosted solution, which you access via the Internet?
Generally, accounts systems will be available in different levels, depending on the functionality required, or will be modular, allowing you to bolt on different functionality. The more features you need, the more expensive the system will be. If you don’t need a feature right now but may do in the future, make sure that there is a cost effective and easy upgrade path, or that your base version will accept the particular add-on modules you are considering.
Make sure you understand the licensing structure. Some systems will be based upon concurrent users; for example, you may have 5 members of staff but only 3 ever access the system at once, so 3 licenses will be required in this scenario.
Some software will be based on actual users, so in the scenario above you would require 5 licenses.
There may be a licensing model per company, so if you manage accounts for more than 1 trading entity you may require additional licenses or a different version of the product.
Finally, make sure you get a fully functional trial of the software you are looking to purchase to make sure it meets your requirements, and make sure you use it with real-life scenarios! Run systems in parallel for a week or so as the only way you will ensure the system meets your needs is by using it!
If you need help choosing a system or installing a new accounts package, please contact us.