What To Look For In Cloud Accounting

All cloud accounting packages provide basics such as ledgers and bank reconciliation's but choosing the right software can still be daunting.  If for example, payroll, customer portals, stock management, and multi language are needed, it may complicate the choice.  The expanding apps market can now easily provide this type of niche function. For example Xero and Quickbooks have 100's of partner apps that enable integration of CRM systems, staff expense management, estimates etc etc.

To choose the right set up for our customers we look at the functional requirements and the more generic aspects listed below .

Evaluation Criteria

Pricing - there has never been a more competitive market for accounting software.  Many vendors are offering free trials and subscriptions as low as £5 per month per user. As cloud based systems they have the benefit of no local IT costs involving back up and upgrades. But you are of course at the mercy of the internet connection. If keeping control is important to you then desktop software is still available but will involve longer term contracts.

Integration - access to 100's of complementary apps is one of the key benefits of cloud accounting. App developers have been busy integrating their products to the key accounting systems. This means that business owners have a massive choice and very rapid implementation timescales. This in turn means quicker benefit realisation. This should not mean however that all of the sales hype is true or relevant to your situation. There is no substitute for proper testing.

Platforms - some products from the most recent entrants were initially developed for use on smartphones and tablets and only then made to work on desktops and laptops. This is different to those legacy suppliers who will have pre-existing desktop code to exploit and will be retrofitting it to work on mobiles. Depending on your hardware strategy this may be a consideration.

Look and feel - mobile accounting apps can look great especially for the busy manager who wants snapshots of the financial situation. There is will still be a need however to input invoices, journals etc so a consider a thorough evaluation of how easy it is to enter transaction for your business.

Upgrade paths - you will need additional users, more volume and additional functionality as your business grows. Before committing to any new system consider the costs and implications of upgrades