How To Pick The Right Cloud Accounting Software

BradYoung04 By BradYoung04, 7th Oct 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Accounting & Finance

When it comes to cloud accounting software we’re in a very saturated market right now with new companies springing up almost overnight. So how do you pick a package that will best deliver what you need?

Too Much Choice

Cloud computing is big business and everyone wants a piece of that lucrative pie. Software providers are falling over one another to attract new customers to their cloud based products, and one of the most fiercely contested battles in this arena right now is that of accounting software. No matter how large or small a business, regardless of its industry, there’s one unavoidable commonality: everyone needs to record their accounts.

The situation we find ourselves in at the moment with such a broad choice of options in this field is much like that of some 30 years ago as the desktop computer became a workplace standard and the potential for software providers to sweep the desktop market was huge. With success stories like Microsoft and Lotus (at the time) cleaning up with businesses buying their software products in vast quantities, there were countless new software companies keen to get in on the action, offering their own hastily developed packages in order to enjoy a share of the spoils.

Recognising that Cream Rises

Today there are just a handful of desktop accounting software packages which dominate the market as the playing field has leveled off with smaller and less successful companies falling by the wayside. These big name accounting software providers have of course now moved into the cloud accounting space but being the standout desktop software providers doesn’t necessarily translate to these same firms being the best placed to dominate the new generation of cloud based solutions.

If you cast your mind back to the turn of the century, as digital photography was taking off, you might recall that consumer cameras quickly went from blocky devices requiring 35mm film you’d have to send off to get developed, to the sleek and slim gadgets we recognise today, with their own digital storage giving users immediate access to their snaps. The pace at which digital photography took off apparently caught one of the industry’s biggest players by surprise and where once the globally recognized Kodak brand was synonymous with photography, today it stands as an example of a once dominant giant taking a rapid fall from grace by virtue of not keeping up.

The point I’m making is that just like with Kodak, there’s no reason to believe that the current giants of desktop accounting software will be the ones to emerge victorious once the current battle for cloud accounting software supremacy has been decided. The sheer volume of competing companies seeking to win online accounting customers means there will inevitably be casualties as later down the line we find a more streamlined choice of options in a consolidated market, with some companies going under whilst others merge or are assumed by their more successful rivals.

Therefore how can you be sure of picking the right accounting software solution that both fits your needs AND has the staying power to stand the test of time? The below are three top tips to help you make the most informed decision when it comes to selecting cloud accounting software.

Niche Businesses Require Niche Solutions

Sometimes a simple one size fits all approach can get the job done and you can pick a straightforward off the shelf product to fulfil your business’ requirements. However, if your operation’s demands are more complex than your average high street store, for example, then you may very well be better served by a bespoke accounting software solution. One option would be to go to a software developer and have them tailor a package for your business from the ground up, but this is very costly and should really only be considered by very big organizations who could justify the outlay.

The other alternative is to seek out a package that’s already relevant to the way you carry out business. That might mean choosing a specialist eCommerce accounting package to help you manage your income and expenditure from online trading or it may simply be a case of looking for a package that's specific to start-ups and small businesses, rather than getting bogged down in something designed for enterprise users that will have far more functionality than you'd be likely to need. After all, why pay for what you don't use?

In House or Collaborative

Do you have your own accounts department in house who’ll be looking after your business’ financial affairs or are you relying on an outside accountant to take care of that side of the business? In the case of most small businesses the accountancy is usually handled off site, after all it makes sense to leave it to the professionals, and if that’s the case for your business then it makes sense to make use of an accountancy package that you can share with your accountant. This means that you can easily update records at your end that your accountant can access as need be, in order to work their accounting wizardry with! Many of the new generation of online accounts packages have this functionality built in so be sure to check this is the case if it’s going to be important and useful to you.

Don’t Get Sold To, Do Your Homework

It is still all too common in business to find companies working with software and equipment that's inappropriate, unnecessary or just far too costly for their needs. This is because those in charge of doing the buying have been wooed by flashy salesmen or have had their heads turned by a spot of schmoozing. If it's not your money you're spending then why would you think twice about paying for that costly option, especially since the guy selling it can get you some awesome seats at the football!

That's why you should take your time to assess each platform you think may be suitable, and don't allow your head to be turned by gimmicks or sales talk. Most providers will offer a free trial or a demo so take advantage of these and try to make practical use of the software you're considering before you take the plunge and commit.

Make an Informed Choice

I hope you’ve found this useful and if you’d like to read more of my writing, on subjects around the successful running of a modern business, take a look at some of my other Wikinut articles such as Online Money Management for Business Owners and Starting a Business as a Sole Trader and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

Tags

Accounting, Accounting And Finance, Business Management, Cloud Computing, Finance, Software

Meet the author

author avatar BradYoung04
I am a MBA grad who can transform your business. Follow me for straight talking insights into running successful businesses in a fast paced world. I am always working or surfing in the Californian sun

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