Today all large companies, and most small ones too, use accounting software to monitor expenses and revenues, do estimates and invoicing, and much more. Manual bookkeeping and documentation are gradually disappearing in favor of this modern tech solution that boosts efficiency and reduces errors.

A number of providers are offering different types of accounting software; the challenge lies in choosing the right one for your business. Here are four questions to guide you in the process:

Online accounting in action

1. How big is your business?

Some accounting solutions are designed for huge companies while others are created to address the needs of small enterprises. The main differences between the two types lie in their features. For instance, companies with more than a hundred employees would like to have a payroll management module integrated into the system. A small print shop owner, on the other hand, might find this component unnecessary if she only needs two other people to sustain the business.

2. What features and functions do you need?

List out the features and functions you’ve got to have in order to manage your accounting well. Use the list in reviewing software options; any solution that doesn’t offer everything on your list actually isn’t a solution – at least not for your business. General accounting functions include invoicing, expense tracking, bank reconciliations, taxes and customer records. If you need additional capabilities to operate smoothly in your particular niche, you should consider more advanced and specialized software, or add-ons to a basic app. It may be more expensive, but if the benefits balance the costs, go ahead and pay the premium price.

3. Who will use the accounting software?

Ease of use is important, so the capabilities of those who will be using the solution have to be taken into account. If all users have accounting backgrounds, chances are they won’t find any trouble with the specialized accounting terms, rules and procedures found in most software. However, if you’re an engineer or nurse turned entrepreneur, or if any of those who’ll need to use the app aren’t experienced with accounting, your best bet is to find a solution designed for non-accountants.

Another consideration is how computer-savvy the users are. The answer determines the type of support you’ll need, to help them make the best use of the software you choose. It’s wise to consult the provider regarding the training and support they provide. Video tutorials, technical manuals and readily available support staff come in very handy.

4. How will you use the accounting software?

Cloud accounting software has recently become quite popular because of the convenience and data security it offers. When your accounting records are stored in the cloud, you can access them anytime and anywhere you have a reliable Internet connection. Further, you don’t have to worry about losing your data to theft, fire, or other calamities. This setup is especially useful for people who spend a lot of their working hours on the road. There’s no need to be in the office physically just to access accounting records.

Before purchasing a particular accounting solution, be sure to read reviews, and check with an accounting professional. Finally, if the provider offers a trial period, take advantage of it – put the software to work and make sure it works as expected for you and your team.