What to look for when choosing an accounting solution

Posted on Feb 18th, 2011 | Tax

Freelancers, contractors and small businesses have a baffling number of options when it comes to picking an accountancy software. Prices vary greatly, as do the number of features each one will possess, but there are a few key areas which you need to think about when hunting for the ideal solution.

Key points to look for

Price – Online accounting software varies greatly with monthly and yearly pricing points pretty much standard. As with any service, price is important, but you should also look at what’s included for that price. Is everything you need included, or are they only available as optional extras?

Ease of use – Time spent on bookkeeping can be at the expense of running your day-to-day business operations and developing it further (or perhaps, even worse, your leisure time!). How do you know if the system you’re looking at is for you? There are a couple of ways of separating the ‘wheat from the chaff’:

– Ask for a demo account to give the system a test-drive.

– What is their support system like? If everything goes wrong, how easy is it to get help?

Online/offline software – There are two different types of accounting softwares: those based online (‘in the cloud’) or downloadable software that sits on your desktop. The problem with the downloadable variety is that it can require regular software updates, has to be compatible with your computer system, and installation is needed. The other major problem is that it’s immobile – you can’t operate it across different computers or mobile devices.

Online software, meanwhile, has capacity for showing real time financial data and is accessible anywhere with an internet connection. You will never have to download anything or make any updates from your end.

The accounting needs of freelancers and contractors

Freelancers and contractors are usually one person operations and, as such, require an accountancy service which keeps everything simple. The great advantage of online technology is that it can help make running a limited company much easier than it has been traditionally. Most freelancers and contractors go into business to do what they love, not to fiddle with their accounts. Crunch’s combination of dead-simple software and expert advice over the phone provides the ideal combination for self-employed professionals who want to log in, do their accounts, and get out as quickly as possible.

The accounting needs of small businesses

All the above apply to small businesses employing staff. However, they will also need a payroll system with which to easily pay staff and deal with NI contributions.

In summary, online accounting software is crucial to enabling business owners to better run their financial accounts. It can dramatically reduce the time you spend on your admin, and offer peace of mind that your accounts are up-to-date and under control. However, all this cutting-edge technology is worthless if you don’t know how to use it – which is why we believe the personal touch is invaluable. That’s exactly what we provide by offering every customer their own account manager who helps them every step of the way, plus unlimited access to a team of expert accountants.

Useful tools and resources

Business guides

From understanding expenses to starting a limited company, we've a range of jargon-free business guides for you to download and keep.

Invoicing software and templates

Create, send and store sole trader invoices in a snap with our free invoice software. You can also download a selection of invoice templates for all business types.

Take-home pay calculator

Use our Take-Home Pay Calculator to work out your true earnings and see if you could save money with a different company set up.