You started with a shoebox of receipts, now you have a storage box or maybe you are meticulous and have it all on a spreadsheet. Either way it is time to start thinking about accounting software. This guide will look at why you need it and lead you through what you should consider in making your decision.
Accounting software, package or system describes a type of application software that records and processes accounting transactions within functional modules such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, journal, general ledger, payroll, and trial balance. It functions as an accounting information system.
Accounting software has changed a fair bit over the last few years with new competition driving new features and simplicity. Probably the biggest change however is that it is all in the cloud. Put simply this means you rent access to the solution and do everything via the internet. You no longer have software that you must buy and host internally on extra computer hardware that you must keep safe. Instead you have a user-friendly solution that you can access from anywhere that integrates with your bank, POS system, etc.
WHY should you buy Accounting Software?
Saves you time – track invoices, manage bills and expenses and pay staff in a few clicks
Tax time ready – calculate GST, PAYG and BAS reports
Built for Australian legislation reporting
Get paid faster – online invoices, pay now buttons and automatic payment reminders
Enter receipts on the move – use your smartphone to take a photo of the receipt from Bunnings. Great for travellers and tradies.
An external accountant or bookkeeper can have instant access at the same time you do
Reporting lets you quickly get a good idea of how your business is going now
Accounting software becomes increasingly beneficial as the business gets more complicated
HOW to make a decision on which Accounting Package
So now we understand that this software solution is so much more than getting a bill in the system, it is about automating the whole process. Let us look at the features you should consider when selecting which vendor:
- Different accounting package vendors offer different features and even within the same company they offer different levels which means you only get what you need. For example, if you have no employees you do not need the payroll functionality. Consider what package you will need?
- Pay Staff – Do you want payroll integration? Does the system calculate all payroll requirements including PAYG, annual leave, long service leave etc.? From July 2019 small employers with 19 or less staff must report payroll info to the ATO through Single Touch Payroll. https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Single-Touch-Payroll/ (Be sure to read our essential guide on Payroll)
- Ease of use – As an untrained small business owner how easy is it to learn to use the package and be assisted through the software to understand what the requirements are of controlling your finances?
- Invoicing – Send customised, trackable invoices. Can clients pay right from the invoice? Can automatic payment reminders be sent?
- Tax and GST – Can you easily and automatically track what you owe, and see all your position at a glance?
- Does the software support Standard Business Reporting (SBR) allowing you to lodge your GST BAS requirements? (Be sure to read our essential guide on GST)
- Application integration – Can the package be connected to other software solutions you are using?
- Time tracking and billing – If you charge by the hour are there features that will simplify gathering this data? For example, a smartphone App.
- Reports and budgets – What level of detail do you need and can you compare against a plan or budget?
- Track jobs – Does the system track stock, work in progress, orders, jobs, and other task management requirements?
- Bills and expenses – How easy is it to upload your bills and easily categorise expenses?
- Point of Sale (POS) integration – Is there a seamless connection to track sales and inventory movements?
- Inventory – If you hold inventory/stock will this package help you forecast and manage it? Can you barcode scan items in and out if you want to?
- Bank Reconciliation – Will the system be able to handle multiple bank accounts?
- Manage customers & suppliers – Can you easily see which customers owe you money, and which you need to follow up on?
- Take payments – Does the software allow EFTPOS or credit card processing?
- Cash flow management – Can you see your money in and money out at a glance, and understand quickly what your cash position is?
- Online accounting – Is there a smartphone or tablet app that lest you enter data or receipts as well as run your business from anywhere?
- Multi-currency – Does the system need to handle foreign currency?
- Account sharing – Can you invite accountants, bookkeepers, and partners so they can help you manage your business?
- Security – What security and backup procedures do they offer to help you protect your data?
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Does the system keep detailed records on customers including what they buy, how often they buy, and when they buy?
- Service – What support and training are available, what hours and does that support understand Australian regulations?
For more information on what accounting tools are available and the specific features, they offer visit
Free trials are available to help you compare and chances are your financial expert will have an opinion on which one to use.
The accounting software packages you should consider in no particular order include Xero, MYOB, Quicken, Reckon, QuickBooks and Sage.
SUMMARY – Right Accounting Software
Having the right accounting package will save you vast amounts of time and effort and will help keep your business compliant with government regulations.
Although these modern tools are brilliant in helping you control your business finances they will never replace having access to a financial expert. We strongly recommend you have access to an accountant or bookkeeper to help guide you.
If you do not have external financial support today you can visit this site to help you find the right person