5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Accounting Software

Technology PCmag

If you're tasked with finding the best software to manage your company's books, there are many important factors you must consider. First and foremost, it's crucial you determine whether your company needs an online accounting service for small businesses or enterprise-class software that can scale as your operations grow. Once you've made that decision, there's a host of great solutions available to give you exactly what you need to keep your accounts in tip-top shape.

For those of you who only need something small and nimble, you can't go wrong with Intuit QuickBooks and Freshbooks . Both systems are ideal for small mom-and-pop shops that don't require much back-end sophistication. However, if you've decided that your large organization needs some accounting horsepower, you should check out Intacct .

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Regardless of your choice, there are five crucial mistakes you should avoid when implementing your accounting software. You need to know what they are, why to avoid them, and how to make the most of your new system.

1. Don't Be Cheap
As I mentioned above, big businesses need big systems. Sure, Intuit and Freshbooks offer affordable and capable solutions that are easy to implement. But companies with large staffs and multinational operations will want to spend a bit more coin for a system that can scale and integrate with tools from other lines of business. For example: Enterprise-class systems can handle queries from within even the most expansive business intelligence (BI), project management, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

Additionally, enterprise-class accounting software enables you to build a unique system based on your company's specific needs. They offer different options for different verticals, and can be tailored to suit various geographies and currencies. But if you opt for cheaper software, you'll be stuck using a plug-and-play system that's one-size-fits-all.

2. (Probably) Don't Buy On-Premises
If you're expecting your business to grow, you don't want to purchase a system that's reliant on your data center infrastructure. With cloud-based systems, you'll wind up paying a small fee to increase your vendor's infrastructure demands, but that's nothing compared to what you'll pay if you have to upgrade your own in-house ecosystem.

Increasing the scale of on-premises accounting software will require you to pay more in licensing and maintenance fees. You'll also have to continually upgrade your hardware to more capable and expansive servers to handle the additional data requirements, and this means more energy costs, and more software to monitor your network performance. As I previously mentioned, cloud-based solutions will still require you to pay a bit more as your needs grow, but the costs won't be nearly as dramatic as with an on-premises system. Now if you can afford to upgrade across the board, or just feel more comfortable housing your data in your own data center, ignore everything in this sub-section.

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3. Don't Ignore the Database
Regardless of whether you choose on- or off-premises software, you're going to want to be mindful of the database you're using to store all your information. If you opt for a single user or off-the-shelf system, you'll likely rely on the vendor's database to house all of your data. Some vendors limit the amount of data you can store on their systems, so you'll have to switch software if your company dramatically expands.

Fortunately, most enterprise-class solutions can handle a variety of databases, so it's important to determine whether or not the database and system can work well with one another to maximize your back-end performance. Microsoft's SQL Server is a capable and standard choice many of you might already be using. MYSQL is another popular choice. Most accounting systems jibe with both databases pretty well. Work with your IT department and accounting team to determine which system is the best choice for syncing with your data, especially if your company uses a niche or unique database programming language.

4. Don't Forget to Include HR
Your human resources (HR) management software, such as our Editors' Choice BambooHR will interact with your accounting software more than most other systems you adopt. Failing to ensure a smooth integration between both tools will almost guarantee you'll need to switch one or the other in short order.

Combining these two systems gives you a birds-eye view of how your employees impact the bottom line. You'll be able to better understand the crossover impact of everything from expense management, the cost of recruitment, and the cost of layoffs. You'll be able to survive without integrating the systems, but your operations will be slower, less intelligent, and less automated than the competitors that heeded this advice.

5. Don't Neglect the Point-of-Sale (POS)
You'll be surprised how many accounting solutions don't offer POS integration. This is a huge issue, especially for brick-and-mortar businesses and restaurants conducting a bunch of small transactions across multiple locations.

The right solution will be able to automatically gather, organize, and synchronize transactions within your accounting solution. This integration dramatically reduces the amount of manual data input required from your accounting team, and it gives your finance teams oversight into where and when revenue is being generated. Not to mention how this capital can be immediately applied to the company's outstanding balances.

This article originally appeared on PCMag.com.