A friend suggests Pastel, your accountant uses QuickBooks, but you’ve just seen a great ad for Softline. Your computer guy adds to the confusion by recommending a local solution you’ve never heard of. How on earth do you choose the accounting package that’s right for your business?
Happily, the majority of off-the-shelf packages available today come with most of the basic requirements built in. Where specific needs arise, it’s useful to ask the following questions:
1. What size is your business, and what growth is forecast?
A R500 000 a year business has very different needs from a multimillion rand organization. Don’t overbuy when it comes to your accounting package because you’ll pay more for something that is more complicated than you need. If, however, your business is set for major growth in the medium term, ensure that you buy software that is scalable. As your business grows in size and complexity, you will probably need more functions and more performance. True scalability means that the user interface stays the same, as do the processes required to complete transactions. Make sure that if you need to migrate your data you will not have to fork out a hefty amount of cash.
2. What industry are you in?
Some vendors have developed specialized software for certain industries which, although more expensive, may offer you the functionality you need.
3. What support is available and at what cost?
Buying the software is the first step, but it’s important to ensure that local support is available in the form of consultants, internet support, phone support, training options and more. A large user base is a good indication of a bigger support structure.
4. What systems will you need to run the software?
You need to make sure that your computer systems are up to date in terms of both hardware and operating system.
5. What components will you use?
If you employ an accountant or bookkeeper, chances are you will really be able to maximise the functionalities of any given package, from creating invoices to producing management reports. If you’re only going to use it for invoicing, however, then choose your package accordingly.
6. What is your budget?
How much money do you have to invest in the software? When researching the software options available to you, consider which one offers the best fit for your needs with the best value.
7. Is the package easy to use?
If the package you choose is too complex and difficult to learn, it will be of no use to the business. Don’t be tempted to purchase one with extra functions that you do not need. Again, it’s all about the right fit based upon the needs of the business and ease of use.