There is one area of business that very few business owners, managers or entrepreneurs really enjoy working on and that’s finance. Unless you happen to be an accountant, this is probably one aspect of business management that you try your best to ignore.
But it’s important that all businesses, charities and enterprises don’t ignore or do poor work on their finances either. For a small business it could be the difference between thriving and going bust. For a charity it could be the difference between helping those in need and falling short.
So with that in mind, how can technology help you to manage your all important accounts?
Here are a few areas to consider when searching for software for this task:
Local Or Remote?
In times gone by the normal route would be to buy some software off the shelf and install it on your own computer. This is certainly still an option, but by taking this route you might be missing out on some powerful features.
The more popular option now is to go with a cloud based finance package, which is hosted remotely and for which you pay a monthly subscription rather than buying it outright.
Some of the big advantages of cloud based finance software include the following:
- It’s more affordable
- It is constantly being updated
- Generally better technical support
- Accessible from anywhere on any computer
- Potential integration with other services
Does it integrate?
When you first start thinking about accounting software you might just think that you need a simple, stand-alone platform that will handle your takings and bills and give you a profit figure.
This is an option, but you might be missing out on some powerful features. Consider what other services you already use or could utilize and whether your finance software could be integrated with those services.
For instance, if you use online business banking, your finance package might integrate with your bank account to enable you to download transactions automatically. If you use invoicing software or software to manage quotes and estimates you may be able to bring that functionality into your finance system and even manage leads.
You could take that a step further and integrate your accounts with your CRM or order processing (or your EPOS system if you operate off-line) in order to get more accurate and detailed financial data.
All of this might sound complicated, and in many ways it is, but once set-up a well thought out system could help you to save a lot of time and make your business more efficient.
For some businesses, a simple, stand-alone solution might suffice, but look into the options first. You may find that software you already use and rely on can be integrated to give you new functionality that you hadn’t even thought of.
What features do you need?
The most important thing to do before looking into software is to decide on what you actually want. If you don’t know what features you are looking for then you won’t easily be able to compare your options.
Typical features to look for might include:
- Inventory tracking / stock control
- Ability to create and send invoices
- Credit tracking / payment reminders
- Budgeting and financial forecasts
- Financial reporting and analysis
If you don’t know where to start, consider looking at the feature lists of a few pieces of software. See what they actually do and write a list of all of the features that you think you will use.
It is also a good idea to write two lists:
- Must have features
- Might be useful features
You can then directly compare different options and select the one that fits your needs. Pretty simple, huh?
About The Author
Hello, my name is Mike Spalding, I work as an IT support consultant for Advantage Business systems. We specialize in business management and finance software for businesses and charities (find out more about the options). Thanks for reading my post!