Why computerise accounts?
Many business start off by using a manual system to record their income and expenditure and may soon progress onto a system developed around one or more spreadsheets. Whilst this is fine if your business processes a small number of transactions – say up to 20 per month – by implementing the right accounting software you will not only save both time and money but also make fewer mistakes and be able to obtain useful management information to aid decision making.
There are many different accounting software packages available but generally they all have the following benefits over manual or spreadsheet based systems:
- The ‘double entry’ of each transaction is automatically taken care of. For example, raising a sales invoice will automatically update both sales and debtors accounts.
- Many routine tasks such as entering direct debits and standing orders can be set up to be processed automatically on the correct dates.
- Bank reconciliations can be completed quickly and accurately.
- Management reports such as aged debtors, profit and loss and performance against budgets can be accessed at the touch of a button.
- Comparatives of performance against previous months/years can be quickly and easily produced.
- Annual accounts should be quicker, and therefore cheaper, to produce.
Which accounting software to choose?
At The TAX Partnership we can prepare accounts from any of the software packages available and never insist that clients use any particular package. We believe that there is no ideal solution for all businesses and that the right software will depend on your individual circumstances. In order to choose the ideal software you need to first of all decide which book-keeping tasks you need it to perform. These might include:
- Sales, invoicing and receipts
- Purchases and payments
- Banking and cash management
- VAT and payroll
- Stock control
Your business may also have special needs. For example you may invoice in more than one currency or require integration with an e-commerce web store. There may also be more advance features that you require such as job costing, budgeting or cost centre analysis.
You next need to decide who is going to be responsible for entering information into the system and how many people require access to it. Do you have the necessary expertise within the business already or will you have to recruit a book-keeper? If you intend to utilise existing staff then remember that training and ongoing support will have to be provided – make sure that this is readily available.
You also need to decide where to locate the software. Traditionally accounting software is located at the business premises either on a stand alone PC or as part of a network. However in recent years there has been an increased trend towards ‘remote’ or ‘home’ working. If you think that you will require access to accounting information whilst you are not in the office then you should consider one of the so called ‘cloud accounting’ packages where your accounts are accessed over a secure internet connection.
Once you have drawn up the list of features you require and decided on who is going to be responsible for the day to day management of the software you need to look for package which meet these requirements. To get you started, the main providers of Desktop Accounting Packages are QuickBooks and Sage and for Online Accounting packages, there is Kashflow and Xero and links to all are available at the bottom of the page.
If you require any help or assistance in selecting the right software for you business please contact us to discuss a system health check. We are a member of QuickBooks Pro Advisors program and and can supply, install and provide training on this package for little more than the retail price of the product. Our cloud accounting system is operated by QuickBooks Online and this also forms the basis for our All Inclusive Package where we take over all the day to day running of your accounts leaving you free to spend time developing your business.