Online accounting software is growing in popularity as the internet and World Wide Web has become ingrained in our daily lives.
Many of us now bank and shop online as well as various other things and e-commerce has really taken off. It’s only natural to take the step of using online accounting software.
Just as with an out-of-the-box offline package it’s imperative that you choose the right software to avoid headaches and cost down the line.
Here I list the important factors to consider when comparing online accounting software providers.
Is it subscription based or one-off? How does it compare to offline software pricing? Are there any hidden costs that are necessary to use the system? Does the cost include support? What happens if I don’t pay a month’s subscription? Am I locked out of the system?
Ease of access
How do you access the system? Through a simple web interface or something more complicated? If you’re using the software for the bulk of your day you want something that’s comfortable and easy to use and you don’t want to be automatically logged out every five minutes.
What do I do with sales and purchase invoices? Can I scan them into the system or do I need to retain them as usual? Can the system incorporate and deal with electronic documents?
How secure is the system? Does it have offline authenticators such as dongles or card readers? Does it require you to use a strong password? How do you recover a lost or forgotten password?
Does it have all of the features that you would expect in a normal accounting system? What is the menu system like? Is it easy to use? Can I find me way around and find what I want without much fuss? What about training? Is there any training required? What about system settings? System settings can be a pain in the best of systems and setting them how you want online is crucial for smooth operating.
How easily can I get to my data? How do I access my reports? Can I export my data for offline use? Into a.csv file for example. Can I port the data into an alternate system?
How is my data stored? Where is my data stored? How often is it stored? You’re really after immediate storage or as close to it as you can get. When I talk storage here I mean the processing and saving of the transaction level items.
What’s the procedure in case of disaster? For example what if a fire destroys the place of business of the provider. Is my data stored offsite? If so who has it and how do I get it? What if the provider goes out of business?
In my next posting on the subject I will begin my review of online accounting software providers and their products.