16 Features To Look For In An Online Accounting Software

Developers came up with software intending to provide efficiency in running businesses and other operations. The search for suitable software is often overwhelming, with the many options available. It is, especially if you lack the technical know-how of the aspects to consider as you weigh your options. Are you an accountant looking for the perfect online software to help you with your operations? 

This article will help you with your search by highlighting the features to focus on during your selection. Read on for this insight and check out the following:

  • Ease Of Use

Accounting software needs to be easy to use; it’s the only way to utilize it to the fullest and get value for your money. The tool should have a few technicalities such that nobody, even those with no technical know-how, can manipulate the system. 

Complex online accounting software is a liability to your business. You’ll need to spend many resources training your team on utilizing the system. Instead of a day or hours, the training might extend into weeks, eating into your company time. Also, you aren’t assured that your workers will get the hang of its operations, leading to costly errors due to the lack of know-how.   

  • Flexibility

Flexibility, in this context, will also refer to scalability. Business operations are ever-changing, and each business has its own operating systems compared to the other. Any investment you acquire should accommodate your operations. The same should apply to your chosen online accounting software solution. Its system shouldn’t be rigid; your IT team should be able to configure it to suit the specific needs of your business.  

On scalability, you expect your business to grow over time. With the growth, your operations will multiply, with some getting complex. The same applies if you’re undergoing some hitches and business won’t be as good as before; you’ll need a downgrade. It means that your current plan might no longer meet your needs. Therefore, your chosen software should allow for scalability. You’ll find most providers offering various plans for their services; ensure your software allows for this. When you need an upgrade, all you have to do is subscribe to a higher planning and a lower one when you need a downgrade. It shouldn’t be challenging to adjust your operations accordingly.

  • Versatility In Use

With the rise in technology, businesses are adopting innovative ways to carry out their operations. One such way is remote working; workers no longer need to be in the office to fulfill their responsibilities. It means there’s a dire need for tools that accommodate this work forum. Therefore, your workers should be able to use the accounting software from wherever they are. You should also be able to access your company’s financials from wherever you are, despite geographical location. 

And to handle this, the software should be usable on all gadgets, including mobile phones, and work with any browser.  

  • Cloud Storage

As a business, you handle a lot of data, from your operations to customer data. Due to the importance of these documents, you can’t get rid of them once you’re done with them. Without a cloud storage system, you’d have to invest in a storage room to accommodate all your documents. Cloud-based online accounting software has enough storage to hold your data. Therefore, seek a tool with cloud-based solutions. 

Besides providing large storage, cloud-based accounting software allows easy data access. As long as you have access, you can view documents remotely, which is beneficial for you, as the business owner, your workers, partners, and clients. You’ll all be on the same page regarding information since you can easily share the data; they also don’t need to come to the office physically to access and sign documents.

  • Security

The finances of any company should remain the private business of the said firm. Should financial data get into the wrong hands, many mishaps can happen. The same applies to general data. Reliable online accounting software should have systems to prevent unauthorized access to your data. Ask your provider about the software’s security systems; it could be a firewall system, anti-malware, or any other.   

In addition, you should be able to restrict those with access to certain data. Can you set passwords and authentication systems? Having this in place will give you better control of your business security.  

  • Compliance

With the rise in online insecurities, various regulating bodies have formulated laws to protect their citizens as they deal with businesses. It is mainly regarding data handling. One such law is data protection; they vary from state to state, although some are utilized universally. Data protection laws aim to control how you use the data you collect from your customers as they interact with your brand, especially websites.  

In finance, you’ll utilize very personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank accounts, addresses, emails, etc. Should such data get into the wrong hands, it can lead to several mishaps. A hacker can use this data to commit fraud. Therefore, ensure your chosen software has incorporated these laws in their systems; if not, you can configure it to adopt the said laws. Consider asking your vendor about this, or even the software developer. It is beneficial since you don’t want to suffer penalties and fines, including possible business closure due to non-compliance.

  • Integration

Operations in a business should be in sync no matter the department to bring collaboration and ensure all parties rely on the same data to handle their responsibilities. Integration also makes work easy since there’s no need for each unit to process its own data. 

Ensure the tool integrates with the crucial aspects of your business, such as human resources. It should be able to get data on payrolls and process payments for your workers. The software should also directly connect to your business banks to enable easy data sending and receipt for payments to suppliers and clients.  

And having accounting software that integrates with most of your operations eliminates situations where you have to purchase different tools for each department, saving you money.

  • Real-Time Data Updating

Manual data entry is often the cause of low productivity levels and errors in your workplace. Low productivity negatively impacts your returns and profits. On the other hand, errors compromise the quality of your final products; the customer satisfaction levels might be reduced, which isn’t good for business. 

There’s a need to adopt real-time data updating systems. Your workers won’t need to work on repetitive tasks all day; they can focus on other operations. Your field agents won’t have to worry about going back to the office at the end of the day to input the data they collected all day; there’ll be less travel time and more work done a day. Errors will also reduce in the process. Therefore, ensure your chosen online accounting software allows for real-time data updates.

  • Error Detection

The last thing you want is to have errors in your accounting data; this data is related directly to your company’s finances. Everything needs to be accurate. The error detection feature is crucial, especially if you synced it with your inventory data. And with this data, the software can make orders on your behalf; it’ll also know your stock, what’s available and what’s not. 

While configuring its settings, it can alert you anytime of some errors you want to request the supply for a given material, yet it’s in stock. It should also do the same should you try to sell an item out of stock. With the alert, you’ll stop the transaction that could cost your business by overstocking, which is a waste of resources. On the other end, it’ll prevent customer dissatisfaction when you promise them a good, yet you don’t have it; mistrust will develop, which isn’t desirable.  

  • Visual Features

Online accounting software should have several features besides presenting your data on tables. Certain types of data, such as monthly and quarterly reports, should be in a form that allows for comparison. It should enable you to create graphs, charts, histograms, and other formats to enhance understanding and create a visual image of the data. 

It’s much easier comparing data using graphs, where you can easily see the highs and lows, rather than going through hundreds of tables to get what you need. Besides having these features in their system, it should enable you to create your desired graphic as you desire with much ease.  

  • Quick

As you and your team fulfil your responsibilities, you want a system to do this without delays. Delays or slow working can affect the productivity levels of your company.

Ensure you select accounting software that has enough capabilities to handle all your workload. In no case should your team experience lags, or its systems override due to too much activity. Also, the wait time should be close to none, if not none. Prolonged load time increases company downtime, which is undesirable.  

  • Technical Support

As with any other technological tool, you’re likely to experience challenges as you utilize your accounting software. Your team sometimes can’t independently solve the issues due to many technicalities. Therefore, ensure that your preferred online accounting software comes with technical support. You should be able to contact the tool’s developers or vendor’s technician to assist you with the issues. You want to get assistance from someone with proficiency with the software; they’ll know what to look at and how to handle the situation instead of seeking the services of a random technician who’ll repair through trial and error.  

  • Automation

Processing payments requires a lot of calculations to arrive at the final figure. As previously stated, your preferred accounting software should eliminate manual data entry. However, it shouldn’t stop here; you should be able to set its systems to carry out the necessary calculations automatically. There’ll be no errors in the process as long as you input the correct formula. Therefore, you’ll get the tax deductions right, and your workers will receive their exact salaries, nothing more, nothing less.

  • Value For Money

Getting value for your money is an essential feature your chosen online accounting software should have. How will you measure the software’s value for money? 

Compare the money you’re paying with the services the software provides. Does it meet all your needs, or does it partly do so? To get value for your money, ensure that the software meets all your needs, and the number of services goes hand in hand with the amount you’re paying.   

  • Industry-Friendly

Different industries operate differently; what works for one industry might not work for another. Your chosen online accounting software should be suitable to your industry in meeting your needs as a whole. It is with regard to its configuration.  

And for maximum utilization, it shouldn’t have features you can’t use because they don’t apply to your industry. At the same time, it shouldn’t lack the accounting tools your industry requires. It prevents situations where you have to acquire another tool to satisfy the missing need, increasing your expenditure.

  • Ease Of Maintenance

Your journey of finding and utilizing accounting software doesn’t end with you acquiring the tool. You must look at the long-term use of your tool, specifically its maintenance needs.  

You might think you’ve found the best software, only for it to start bothering you in the future. Ask your provider about its maintenance needs. A software’s maintenance needs mainly evolve around upgrades.  

How many upgrades do you need to do, and under what intervals? Are you going to incur the costs of the upgrade, or are these services in conjunction with the subscription price you pay?  

Once you pay the initial price of the online account software, you want to incur as low costs as possible, preferably none. Therefore, settle for software with the least maintenance needs.

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