Which online accounting software should your organization choose?

Evaluating, selecting and implementing a new online accounting system may be a scary proposition and may not be your highest priority, but finding the right financial system for your organization could offer huge benefits.

Below we have detailed the steps to finding and implementing the right system for you.

Draw up a list detailing your requirements. For example*:
  • Ability to import and export data to and from other software tools and specialist systems
  • Accessibility from BlackBerry, iPhone and other mobile devices
  • Accounting for non-profit entities
  • Automatic feed of bank account data
  • Availability (and range) of add-ons
  • Bank reconciliation
  • Credit control
  • E-commerce
  • Management reporting
  • Multicurrency facilities
  • Ease of integration with other online (cloud) or on-premise systems
  • Purchase order processing
  • Online banking
  • Payroll
  • Sales order processing
  • Stock handling
  • Tax - ability to handle different regimes, including Sales and Use Tax and Value Added Tax
Draw up a 'key features' shortlist and watch online demos. You might even want to get a hands-on feel for the systems by taking advantage of free trial offerings or access reviews by other customers, but this is time consuming so best left until you've shortlisted your favourite solution.
Check out the company behind the solution:
  • What is the background of the company - is it a start-up or does it have strong financial backing?
  • Who is hosting the data? Does the data centre conform to recognized security ratings?
  • Who else is using the system?
Think about where you need to go in the future:
  • Does the system integrate with other (on-premise and online) systems, and how seamlessly?
  • Can data be exported in a format that can be imported into a spreadsheet, a desktop accounting program, or any other specialized online or offline application?
  • Will the system be able to meet the needs of the business as it grows?
  • If not, what is the upgrade path?
  • What is the exit route if the system proves unsatisfactory?
Final considerations and next steps:
  •  Review the service level agreement on offer and ask the service provider any questions. Exactly what does your subscription buy?
  •  Follow a standard selection process
* From ICAEW IT Faculty - Online Accounting Software, Chartech Software Product Guide (2010) [PDF]

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