Points to consider when choosing online accounting software

Clearbooks - small business accounting softwareIf you are considering using online small business accounting software to help get your business finance into shape here are points to consider before deciding which provider to go with.

Working at an online accounting provider has given me an insight into some things that you may wish to check. This article is written with the view that the company buying the SaaS accounting app is a small sized business owner or decision maker.

Data Storage:

Where is your data stored? In today’s world we are more than happy to submit our data to online stores, surveys and hold our email conversation data in the cloud. The majority of the time your data is going to be securely held on a securely housed server either in house or by a third party like Amazon (for example). However you should always be careful to check that the server is monitored 24 hours a day and has limited personnel access to the server (for large third party providers this will be the most basic level of protection). Another thing to consider is if the data is stored on a self hosted server, you need to make sure the data is backed up off site as well. I am not an expert in the way that data needs to be stored; however I do know that these are a few factors to question before subscribing to a small business accounting service.

Customer Support:

This is one of the factors that comes down to personal preference and confidence in your IT skills (the fact that you are reading this blog suggests you are pretty confident). If you feel that the app has great help documents and email support then you may feel that telephone support is a nicety rather than a necessity. On the other hand if you are not that confident with how to use the online accounting software then telephone support would probably be higher on your list. Email and telephone support are two very different solutions in my opinion; email is great if you are not in need of an urgent response and you’re not so confused that a step by step walk through be required. Telephone support is not as flexible for the busy professional, but if you are stuck with how to do something on a small business accounting app then you can be talked through it whilst at your computer. In the future I have no doubt that remote assistance will become part of developing an app.

App Design & Usability:

This is one area of choosing a small business accounting solution that is completely down to you, the decision maker. The only way to decide which piece of accounting software is right for you is to sign up for several providers and see which accounting solution you and your co workers or employees find easiest to use. You also need to take into account whether the software provides the features that allow you to record the financial happenings in your company on a day to day basis.

Pricing:

Pricing of a Saas accounting software varies hugely depending on the scale of implementation. At the cheaper end of the market (being considered here for businesses of up to 25 people) there is quite a large variation in pricing (anything from $6 – $50 or more) so below are two things to look out for:

  • Is the price inclusive of all the services you may need or are you going to need to buy additional features. Examples of these additional features could be importing a certain type of file to allow you to get your bank data up to date, or having to pay to produce your end of year reports.
  • How many transactions are you allowed a month (unfortunately the definition of a transaction varies from provider to provider).

Written by Nick Braithwaite

Clear Books is a provider of small business accounting software.

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