Accounting software has the potential to change the way a small business operates, but it’s not for everyone. Here’s what you should consider.
More and more small businesses are choosing to use accounting software, either on its own or to complement the services and advice of their accountant or bookkeeper.
Some people still prefer to use spreadsheets or desktop software, especially where there’s no reliable internet connection or when manual entry into ledgers makes more sense. But if you’re looking to save yourself some time and hassle, it’s a good idea to consider cloud-based accounting software - software that runs on the internet, instead of locally on your computer.
“One of the major benefits of cloud-based accounting software is the ability to access it anywhere, at any time,” says Nick Fletcher, MYOB Head of Clients and Partners. “For a business owner on the move, having a real-time view of their cashflow and the ability to collaborate with their accountant is invaluable.”
There are other advantages to using accounting software.
Better understand your finances. Many online accounting software packages have a dashboard as the opening screen, which summarises the most important information in a single page so you can easily see things like your account balances and the status of invoices.
Save you time.
“It means a small business can spend less time reconciling bank accounts and creating or coding invoices, and more time doing what they’re passionate about – running their business,” says Craig Hudson, Managing Director of Xero New Zealand and Pacific Islands.
Better manage your cash flow.
Allow access to multiple users at the same time. With many cloud-based accounting packages, you can grant access to your accountant or employees if you choose. This can save your accountant time, and enable them or another advisor to provide you with better advice. For this reason many accountancy firms now encourage their clients to use online accounting software.
A rich source of business intelligence. Ask the right questions of your accounting software and the answers may help you find more sales, avoid cost overruns and run a more profitable business.
Increased data security. Because the data is not stored only on your computer, it's also in the cloud.
More reliable than desktop software. If your computer crashes, the accounting data file isn’t affected. Backups, upgrades and bug fixes are handled automatically by the software company.
Easy to use across different devices. Whether Mac, PC, smartphone or tablet - because the software runs in the internet browser, rather than being dependent on the operating system.
Accounting software can help with tax compliance. More than 85,000 businesses now use online systems to file GST, and the new Accounting Income Method (AIM) of paying provisional tax requires accounting software.
You’ll also be able to use your payroll software as soon as your software provider is ready.
Where many businesses and their accountants currently record their activity in spreadsheets and then copy that information across to myIR to file their taxes, accounting software can make the calculations and send that information directly across to Inland Revenue.
There are a few things to consider when thinking about whether to use accounting software.