Buyers Guide to Accounting Software

Amanda Grant     31 Aug 2021

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Amanda Grant
Chief Product Officer

“Developed and enhanced over the past 25 years with constant feedback from our customers. This makes Cloud Financials one of the most feature-rich products available to UK finance teams."

 

What are the top signs you have outgrown your accounting software?

There are some tell-tale signs that may indicate your accounting system is no longer fit for purpose. Firstly, if employees are having to complete many tasks manually (or outside the system), there’s a strong chance the software doesn’t have the desired functionality.

This could include having to use Excel excessively. Many people like using this tool, as they are accustomed to using it for certain tasks. And there are even systems that are compatible with Excel, allowing you to export your data to it. But if you are having to do everything in spreadsheets, there’s a good chance your current accounting software is not up to scratch for your requirements.

If you can’t collate information in helpful ways (to gain valuable insights), it may be limited from a reporting standpoint. And if you’re also having storage issues, the system may not have the required capacity either.

Perhaps employees can’t access the solution when (and where) they need to, which implies it doesn’t provide an adequate level of accessibility (and probably isn’t cloud-based).

Finally, if your data is inconsistent, the system may not be integrated to the rest of your business in the way it should be. This could suggest you need to upgrade to a more wide-ranging / all-encompassing accounting solution.

What you should look for in
acccounting software?

When looking into an accounting system, the functionality it offers is key. Does it have the capabilities to fulfil the financial tasks you need to complete? And does it increase your efficiency through enhanced processes?

Another characteristic you should look for is whether it is cloud-based. If it is, you’ll be able to access the system remotely, which has become increasingly important with more people working from home. Remote accessibility allows your provider to update the software instantly, if, for example, an important compliancy requirement changes in the industry.

Cloud-based systems are known for being more secure too. This is because your sensitive data is stored on an off-site server and accessed via the internet (as opposed to being vulnerable / easy to find in your offices).   

With the turbulence many businesses have faced in recent times, it’s more important than ever to use a solution that has sophisticated data analytics and reporting capabilities. This will allow you to carry out financial forecasting in a highly accurate manner, which will provide a clear picture of your financial health, and guide key decisions that will affect your ability to survive and thrive.

How to choose accounting software?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a new accounting system. Firstly, you should weigh up the financial feasibility of the investment. This includes taking a detailed look at the ROI (return on investment). Any solution purchased should deliver a strong return in terms of the time and energy saved and should provide better value for money in comparison to your old system.

If it fulfils the functionality criteria, the next thing to think about is how reputable the provider is. If you choose the right technology partner, you should be in safe hands from a data protection and cybersecurity perspective.

You should also contemplate a system that is provided via the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. With this approach, you simply pay a monthly fee for the service, which protects your cashflow. Not only this, but all future updates and support are included in the price, which eliminates the risk of unwanted financial surprises going forward. 

What are the reasons to move to Cloud Accounting?

The world is changing. We are dealing with more sophisticated threats and reputational risks than ever before, yet we must remain ‘business as usual'. In many cases, this means keeping pace with digital solutions that will enable business continuity and growth.

However, to maintain financial compliance and have an up-to-date overview on all accounting activity requires the automation of previously manual tasks. As a result, businesses are rethinking the way they operate to meet the new, often heightened, demands of real-time data analysis and reporting.

What is Cloud accounting software?

In a nutshell, Cloud accounting software is the practice of using an accounting system that's accessed through the internet at anytime and anywhere.

Traditional accounting software is predominantly held in a server located in the office. Although practical for its time, over the years these servers have become unreliable and unmanageable. Factor in ongoing cyber security threats and the irreplaceable loss of information should the server fail/break – it’s easy to see how these systems no longer serve their purpose.

Because Cloud accounting software is held online, cyber security threats are mitigated through real-time protection. What’s more, the worry of losing financial data becomes a thing of the past as it allows you to store and access databases, information and programs with a real-time overview. You can access them wherever you are when you go online, in the same way you can access your email or social media account from any phone, tablet or computer.

Accounting has served every trade and industry since the dawn of time. It plays an integral role firmly placed at the center of businesses. So, it comes as no surprise that over the course of time the way in which accounting is practised has become more sophisticated and automated through the adoption of Cloud accounting software

What are benefits of Cloud Accounting?

Keep your team connected

Communication plays a vital role in team productivity, output and meeting targets. Effective collaboration is achieved through the Cloud via video calls, live chat, access to data enables team members to instantly update, share or view files online in real time. This eliminates back-and-forth emails and mitigates opportunity for miscommunication on projects.

Access the information you need

Whether your staff are working remotely or in the office, they can access all the areas they need to do their job. You can also add multiple users to your account and set permissions so that people with specific job roles only see the information they need at any given time.

Run your business from anywhere

Gone are the days of maintaining spreadsheets and installing an accounting programme onto just one machine. The Cloud allows you to log in to your account anytime and anywhere to access your business finances from any internet-connected device.

Real-time cash flow management

Cloud accounting software seamlessly provides updates which show transactions made in and out from your bank accounts and credit cards. This allows you to oversee and maintain your business’s finances while making agile business decisions based on the data in front of you.

Stay on top of financial compliance

Financial governance and compliance form a key part of your business, but it’s not something that should be a daunting ordeal. The right Cloud accounting software solution should adhere to UK compliance and legislation guidelines with regular updates for financial legislations such as GDPR, Making Tax Digital and Brexit.

Bid farewell to manual updates

Rather than having to manually update an accounting programme, Cloud accounting software is continuously updated by in-house developers. This means that if things such as new financial compliances come into force, the Cloud is agile enough to keep up-to-date in real time, unlike desktop accounting software programmes.

Data kept under lock and key

Data is saved on a secure Cloud server which is constantly backed up. This means you don’t need to worry about your data being hacked or compromised. What’s more, even if your computer crashes, everything is still saved in the Cloud.

Automate manual tasks

Agility is a phrase frequently used in the world of finance. Tools like automation, AI and cloud solutions are adopted through Cloud accounting software. As a result, finance teams are able to automate previously manual tasks and react quicker to situations by analysing a vast amount of data at their fingertips.

What can I do with Cloud accounting software?

There’s no doubt that Cloud accounting software is the future of accounting. The next few years will see an increasing number of firms adopt and migrate onto the Cloud and move their critical data onto remote servers.

Here’s a snapshot of what can be achieved through Cloud accounting software

  • Financial information automatically updated to provide reporting in real-time
  • Easily analyse data and understand business performance
  • Use data from your finance system to lead business strategy
  • Access insight anytime, anywhere using powerful Cloud reports and dashboards
  • Manage the procurement process with streamlined purchasing
  • Work more efficiently across the accounts payable and receivable processes

What Cloud accounting software is available?

There’s a wide range of Cloud accounting software providers in the market. With a wide range of features listed for each, it can be daunting selecting the right fit for your team and business requirements.

No matter the size of your business, making the decision to move from traditional accounting systems and spreadsheets to Cloud accounting software requires guidance from the provider, an integration strategy, and knowing exactly what you want to achieve through your Cloud platform.

Some of the software providers available in the market include:

  • Cloud Financials
  • Business Cloud Essentials
  • Xero
  • QuickBooks
  • Sage 50c Premium
  • Sage 200
  • Oracle
  • Unit 4
  • Access Financials
  • Netsuite
  • Wave
  • FreeAgent
  • Zoho Books
  • KashFlow
  • SAP Business One

What do small businesses need?

Accounting software vs payroll

Accounting software is a core ingredient for the success of many businesses, and fulfils commitments such as budgeting, forecasting and invoicing, as well as the more general tracking of income and expenditure.

But payroll is an important part of any finance team’s activities too. This is why it’s not only crucial to also have a payroll solution, but one that is synchronised with your accounting data.

Employees are the lifeblood of any company’s operations. If they’re not being paid the right amount (or in a timely fashion), they’ll be less likely to stick around. Not only this, but it will likely have negative repercussions for your reputation too. 

When it comes to tasks such as complicated tax calculations, working out deductions, meeting legislative requirements, managing payments, creating payslips, and being compliant with HMRC’s latest protocols, it’s far more effective for your business to use technology rather than doing it all by hand. 

Business Cloud Essentials (BCE) takes care of these payroll responsibilities, saving you time, reducing hassle, and giving employees the service they deserve. Payroll is one component of BCE, and easily integrates with the system’s accounting function. This means that it is simple for your finance team to incorporate payroll data when analysing overall financial performance. 

How do I connect my accounting function to the rest of my business?

Many businesses struggle to keep their accounting activities in sync with the rest of their operations. If they don’t find a suitable solution to this problem, they can lose lots of time when compiling information from every department and turning it into measurable financial data. 

Some will use separate software solutions for each of their different functions. And, although the use of a digital system will reduce manual processes, there is still an issue with finding systems that can integrate with one another. There will also be less cohesion, and multiple versions of the truth when taking this approach. 

The easiest way to bring these aspects together seamlessly, is to use a single, all-encompassing business management solution, that has accounting capabilities as one part of its wider functionality.

Business Cloud Essentials is an example of such a system, as it connects your accounting, stock control, production planning, e-commerce, payroll and contact management functions in one place. This allows employees to access a single pool of data (that’s updated in real-time).  

What are the benefits of connecting my accounting function to the rest of my business?

By using a fully integrated solution (like Business Cloud Essentials) that connects the activity of all your departments, your financial data becomes much more accurate, making it a far more powerful tool. 

All your separate business functions influence one another instantly. If an online sale is made, this filters through to your stock levels, and also updates your finances accordingly (as you have made an income). This may then trigger an order to be sent to a supplier so that stock can be replenished (which would also update your finances due to the spend). 

With this level of automation, time is saved, and employees can focus on value-adding activities. Errors and inaccuracies are reduced, as fewer updates are being completed manually. And consistency of data is increased, as there is not a back and forth from one system to another.

As a result, your accounting team always have access to a true picture of your financial health. The reports you generate are powered by a higher quality of information, meaning that you can make more reliable predictions that guide transformational actions.

What do medium to large businesses need?

Accounting software vs Accountants

In the world of finance and accounting, some medium to large businesses are still hesitant to adopt Cloud accounting software and make the move away from their traditional accounting systems.

In fact, Cloud accounting software is not all that different from the traditional systems that CFOs and finance teams have become accustomed to. The main difference is that Cloud application functions are all performed offsite via an internet connection instead of being stored on an individual desktop.

A key area of modern accountancy and finance involves the storage and usage of data which can be accessed anytime and anywhere. This is paramount to maintaining business strategy, continuity and growth.

Whether it’s chasing debts, keeping an eye open for the next crisis, steering business strategy or making sure there is enough money to pay the wages – Our Cloud Financials accounting software is here to automate previously manual tasks and complex projects to open the floor for productivity and time spent on value-adding projects.

Integrating Cloud accounting software into medium to large businesses

Like you, many CFOs and Finance Directors are looking to Cloud accounting software to help control their finance function. The ultimate goal is to draw all financial aspects of the organisation together without significant upfront costs or ongoing investment.

If you’re in the middle of a digital transformation initiative, then you’re not alone.

Reviewing your current accounting processes, technology, and talent is no small feat when building the blueprints for change.

We understand that in a changing workplace, finance teams face competing demands with the need to boost productivity and demonstrate agility while delivering accurate management information across an entire business in real-time.

Finance teams play an active part in helping the business to flourish through a wide range of functions which can be streamlined through Cloud accounting software:

  • Maintaining key business operations
  • Payroll and tax management
  • Forecasting and cashflow planning
  • Steering business culture and strategy
  • Compliance and financial governance
  • Proactive investment and risk management
  • Training and development

Implementing the right Cloud accounting software is the crucial step in the evolution of finance and accounting. It’s not a short sprint, but a digital transformation journey focused around progress, agility, productivity and strategy in the long run.

Cloud Financials from Advanced is here to automate and seamlessly give you a single unified view of your finances - past, present and future.

We are here to help you along your digital transformation journey, one step at a time:

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Step one - Challenge

An intro call with your Customer Success Manager (CSM) who will explain what they do, and co-ordinate with you to get you ready for the project kick-off meeting.

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Step two - Planning

We create a plan of action with your requirements to formulate your personalised route to the future. Making the complex simple.

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Step three - Journey

Sit back and let us do the hard work. Before going live we set up a UAT, which is like a test drive for your solution. With check-ins along the way from your CSM.

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Step four - Destination

Congratulations you’re live! We introduce you to your Account Manager and what they do. Enjoy the benefits of the Cloud, letting you focus on what matters most. With touchpoints from your CSM along your journey to ensure you maximise.