Accounts Packages Review For Small Businesses
Value of Software Accounts Software
A common mistake in small businesses is to underestimate the importance and value of accurate and up to date accounts and the ability to understand where the business is in terms of cashflow and to review outstanding invoices. Some small business owners will struggle with manual systems while others (the spreadsheet masochists) will attempt to use excel. The value of commercial solutions is that they are built to handle accounts and normally ensure that you manage both sides of a transaction (when you enter a transaction say paying a bill you match the payment to the creditor with a debit on your company bank account).
Smart small business owners will use commercial software solutions to maintain their accounts records. These will:
- reduce the time spent processing business transactions, invoicing and payments
- provide a method to manage outstanding invoices
- in the long term will save you money
- it may even reduce your reliance on your accountant.
Recent developments in hosted software deployment make information accessible via a web browser from anywhere in the world. Ten years ago it would have been considered risky to store valuable company information in a web hosted environment and now for many even global companies it it the norm. The leading provider of CRM software SalesForce.com has been securely hosting key customer contact and new business details for most of the past decage and its clien list keeps on growing. Customers include giants like Siemens. For the SMB these hosting companies are be capable of keeping your data much more secure than if it was located on a computer in your own office.
The benefits of hosted software are:
- hosted software is usually leased on a pay per month basis which has cashflow advantages
- updates are managed for you and security patched updated in a timely manner
- the provider will be maintaining regular backups of your data for restoration (backups are critical to protect you from hard drive crashes and frequently the small business owner will be too busy to bother)
One company name (KashFlow) keeps comming up time and again and has been producing accounting software since 2005 and has grown to be a small business sector market leader.
Focus on KashFlow
When you purchase a KashFlow product use the promotional code AFF2100955 to obtain a discount.
KashFlow, currently has a 70% share of the UK web-based accounting software market although other products are starting to appear including an offering from Sage and, in the US, a hosted Quickbooks product.
2012 Software Satisfaction Awards – Best SME Accounting and Finance
2011 Software Satisfaction Awards – Best SME Accounting and Finance
In 2009 we won both the web-based and general “Accounting Software” category.
KashFlow won the web-based best accounting software category back in 2007 and again in 2008.
Kashflow have won the Best Accounting Software and Finance Application at the Software Satisfaction Awards for small to medium businesses for five of the past six years. Note that this category is voted for by software users and compares Kashflow to it main competitors.
Other Accounts Software for Small Businesses
There are hundreds of products providing a range of software suitable for companies from the small trader to global conglomerates. Some software titles will have 100,000s of businesses using their software others will be at the niche end. Avoid the niche or startup companies for your software as your accountant may not be able to understand how the software product works.
Choose products that:
- offer the right level product for your company size
- have an upgrade path
- offer support if you are new to accounts packages
- sell in large enough volumes so that there are forums offering help
Quickbooks accounts software by Intuit provide a range of products suitable for the small to medium sized business and maintain a loyal base of devotees and more importantly a base of accountants who are familiar with the product.
QuickBooks offer 5 versions of QuickBooks that grow with the needs of small businesses:
- SimpleStart - Great for new and home-based businesses who want the best start - and a more professional look.
- Pro - Ideal for growing businesses who have little accounting knowledge but need increased functionality.
- Premier - Great for dynamic businesses who demand more comprehensive financial management & business planning tools.
- Pro & Payroll and Premier & Payroll - The best in-house solution for businesses who have employees and need to manage payroll and staff data.
With Quickbooks Customers get the security of a money-back guarantee plus 30 days' free support from time of registration.Open Source not Ready
I am a normally an advocate for open source (free) software. I built and manage this website using a free content management system (CMS Made Simple), use the free version of Cubecart to manage a craft e-commerce site and indeed the website hosting company that serves up these web pages uses the free open source web server - Apache. Apache by the way runs most of the world's websites.
However, when it comes to accounts software for small to medium sized businesses I recommend without any exceptions that you use commercial software that is fully supported and which is compliant with UK legal and tax framework. I have tested two free accounts packages over several months to manage my own accounts but gave up on both because of a lack of flexibility and of any user friendly support.