What Do Accountants Value Most In An Accounting Software?

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Accounting software is used by accountants and finance professionals to simplify the handling of a company’s financials and keep all finance related activities accurate and efficient. As a result of accounting software that streamlines and automates processes, a company’s financial records and figures are kept error-free, cost is reduced, productivity is bolstered, and compliance with tax and other regulatory requirements is properly managed.

The immense benefits that accounting software provides has driven its use and implementation. It is projected that the global accounting software market will have a CAGR of 6.3% from 2017 to 2024 and will have a value of $4.4 billion by the end of that period. Seen as dynamic factors behind its growth is the increasing demand for an effective way to manage the financials of small businesses and the rise of mobile accounting applications.

Credits: Accounting Today

In this article, we’ll answer our title question – what do accountants value most in an accounting software and we’ll go into some interesting accounting software comparisons. If we go by its advantages, the answers are pretty straightforward: improved productivity, resource transparency, automated document production, smarter strategies, and savings. All of these are made possible by the features built into accounting software.

But we have to consider these benefits from the side of accountants. Robert Half Finance & Accounting asked more than 2,600 U.S. finance and accounting professionals in an online survey – “What part of working in the accounting and finance profession do you enjoy the most? The top three results:

  • Solving problems (41%)
  • Working with numbers (22%)
  • Making strategic recommendations for the business (17%)

The answers jive with the features that accounting software offers. They make solving financial problems and working with numbers much easier. And if it’s something that makes the job much easier, then it’s certainly something that’s high on an accountant’s list. On those bases, we came up with the specific features that address our question:

What do accountants value most in an accounting software? These are the 11 must-have features that they are likely to appreciate most.

  1. Automation
  2. Core Accounting
  3. Reporting & Analytics
  4. Tax Management
  5. Billing & Invoicing
  6. Payroll System
  7. Mobility & Data Access
  8. Data Security
  9. Integrations
  10. Fixed Asset Management
  11. Inventory Management

11 Valuable Accounting Features

1. Automation

Automation is the cornerstone of a reliable accounting solution. Every accounting software feature applies some sort of automation to simplify processes, from simple accounting transactions to complex financial activities. Many companies today utilize accounting software to fully automate time sheets and payroll, employee expenses, corporate budgets, purchase requisitions, invoice creation, electronic tax filing, payment scheduling, and many other financial operations. If the issue is solving problems, crunching numbers, and doing the math, automation covers a lot of ground at a faster pace. If there is one general feature that can answer the question what do accountants value most in an accounting software, automation would be it.

2. Core Accounting

The basic module of all accounting software ensures that you have the figures right and accurate for general ledger, accounts payable, accounts receivable, fixed assets, and bank reconciliation, among others. With an accounting software’s core capability, you are able to track all of your company’s financial and monetary information which will form the financial record and history that will be sought out by management in their everyday operational as well as strategic decision-making. Again, automation will play out in this area not only for redundant tasks like bookkeeping but also for higher level processes like matching transactions on bank statements to those in the general ledger or matching payments to invoices, to mention some. In fact, machine learning is being applied on automation features by some accounting solutions

Accounting software lends to you a quick lookup of your outstanding receivables so you keep track of collection (FreshBooks).

3. Reporting & Analysis

From financial records keeper, accountants and finance professionals are taking on a new role as overall stewards of corporate data and information, thanks to the robust reporting and analytics tools of accounting software. With today’s challenging business landscape, management is increasingly relying on the finance department and it’s CFO for important financial and corporate data to make information-driven decisions. Accounting software can provide accountants and finance managers with crucial financial insights and accurate financial information, all of which they can report to management for its guidance. Number 3 in the online survey previously mentioned on what accountants enjoy the most – making strategic recommendations for the business – is well addressed with this feature.

4. Tax Management

Tax regulations change over time and there are several state and federal tax laws that you have to comply and contend with. Accounting software can help you manage all those compliance requirements with automatic calculations on tax for sales and payments as well as on withholdings for employee payroll. The software can also provide a database of the most common tax forms, like 1099 and 1096, and through automation put all necessary entries and data for you. You can then file the forms electronically with the IRS. With the software keeping you updated and informed through automatic reminders and sorting everything eliminates the risks of being penalized for late payments. Accounting software removes the worry and pressure on businesses when it comes to accuracy of their financial information and timeliness of their compliance with stringent regulations.

5. Billing & Invoicing

Getting you paid properly and on time impacts on your business’ revenues and this can be significantly facilitated by an accounting solution’s billing and invoicing feature. Again through automation, invoice creation can be automatically done based on your custom requirements and sent via email to your customers and clients. A client portal can be created with real-time invoice modification and automatic reflection of amount after instant calculation of taxes. Payment processing can be undertaken either through online payment capabilities built into the software or through integration with third-party payment processors or payment gateways. Many accounting applications can let you automate the payment process – from scheduling bank payments to direct deposits and even to printing checks.

7. Payroll System

One of the important functions of accounting software is managing your payroll system either as a built-in component or as an external app that you can integrate with your accounting platform. This feature allows you to process employee payrolls, automatically withhold and pay taxes, create legal and tax reports on schedule, and pay employees by transferring funds and salaries to their bank accounts or pay them directly by printing checks. Done manually, accountants know that preparing payroll is a messy, inaccurate, and error-prone system. Accounting software eliminates all that, keeping the process efficient, fast, and free of mistakes. The 2017 Small Business Taxation Survey found that one in three small businesses spent more than 80 hours or two full weeks of work each year on federal taxes, which include payroll taxes. With accounting software, payroll process is less load and problem solved for accountants.

8. Mobility & Data Access

Mobile apps are now almost a standard feature of accounting software, especially for cloud-hosted or web-based accounting platforms. What this means is greater flexibility, giving you the freedom to work and access your financial data on the cloud anytime and anywhere with your mobile device. This also enhances work collaboration; opens lines of communication with clients, vendors and suppliers, and management; keeps you updated on the go with important work reminders and notifications; and informs you of scheduled tasks and activities.

It’s easy to access different accounts in a single location with accounting software (Xero).

9. Data Security

Your financial data is the lifeblood of your accounting work and must thus be safeguarded at all times. Cloud accounting platforms give you a centralized location for all your financial information and offer different levels of data protection for your peace of mind. Data and transactions are encrypted, password protected, and you can set access permission for users. Servers that house your data also normally have redundant power, backup and recovery mechanisms, DDoS attack and Spam protection, and many other security measures. You can always consult the accounting software vendor as regards to their security features and determine how well they work with your own on-site safeguards such as network firewalls and anti-malware.

10. Integrations

Accounting software is flexible and extensible with its integration capability. The platform is designed to work with third-party business and productivity apps and services such as payment gateways, sales software, CRMs, business intelligence systems, project management tools, and many others. This capability translates to you being able to work on a host of tasks without ever leaving the dashboard of your accounting platform. Integration affords you greater efficiency compared when you have to open different apps for various tasks.

11. Fixed Asset Management

This lets you easily manage financial information on company assets and will serve you well if your business has numerous assets in different forms. You’ll be able to track fixed assets for the purpose of financial accounting, preventive maintenance, and theft deterrence. Accounting software keeps you updated and informed of the location, quantity, condition, and depreciation status of your company’s fixed assets as well as the cost of maintaining them. The decision to keep them or dispose of them to preserve a healthy balance sheet can be guided by this feature.

12. Inventory Management

This can be a standalone software or part of an accounting solution. It helps you manage the movement of products to avoid overstock or outages which can affect your company’s bottom line. The tool enables you to track orders, sales, deliveries, and inventory levels, and even calculate stock depreciation if your business has low shelf-life product line. It can give you a paperless, spreadsheet-free way of organizing your inventory data which you can upload and store in your cloud data repository. Again, another of a long list of problems solved through the help of an accounting software.

We can go on but those above prove the point on the usefulness of the software when it comes to accountants resolving issues, going over numbers, and contributing to the strategic direction of the company they work for. Now let’s look at some of the widely-used accounting software available today. Although most accounting solutions have similar offerings, others stand out from the pack. Here are those that we’ve reviewed and got top marks.

Many accounting software have integrated inventory management that lets you stay on top of orders and stocks (Zoho Books).

6 Leading Accounting Solutions

1. FeshBooks

FreshBooks is used by over 10 million small businesses. It is an easy to use, fast, and secure system with powerful features that automate tasks such as invoicing, time tracking, and organizing expenses. Since it’s a complete cloud solution, you can run your financials from anywhere using mobile apps. Also it integrates with dozens of the most popular apps and services, giving you one of the most featured-filled and comprehensive solution to manage all your accounting and financial activities.

2. Xero

Xero is also a widely-used small business accounting with more than 1 million subscribers in 180 countries. It is built for SMBs looking for time-saving tools to grow their business. It is noted for its reliability and security, and is a preferred solution of e-commerce and online sellers with its multi-currency capability and integration with over 600 third-party apps.

3. Zoho Books

Zoho Books is from the well-known Zoho family of interoperable applications. The online accounting software is intended to help small businesses from across industries manage their finances and stay on top of their cash flow. It has a full line-up of accounting functions as well as features for simplified communication, role-based access, and collaboration.

4. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online is targeted at freelancers and startups with its low-cost subscription plans. The solution simplifies small business accounting through automation, integration, and customization. The software lets you manage your financials on the go with its online platform, and help you take control of your cash flow with easy payment scheduling.

5. Tipalti

Tipalti is an end-to end accounting software that takes care of invoice processing, early payments, global payouts, payment reconciliation, tax compliance, supplier onboarding, and more. It is designed to free up accounts payable resources to add more value across the organization.

6. numberz

numberz is an AR management platform that allows for accelerated payment collection processes and timely cashflows through automated payment reminders, simplified reconciliation, and various collaboration tools. numberz features reporting functionalities to supply businesses with valuable insights, while its predictive analytics allows users to have a clear gasp on payment trends.

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