A Wide Variety of Financial Software Options

Accounting Tools

The best accounting software is the software that best meets your unique needs. Selecting the best software for your needs is an important decision and can be a frustrating process. To successfully select the right software requires research into detailed information about the software options available and a realistic assessment of your personal or organizational needs. The accounting system you select must support your personal or organizational goals and objectives and you, if you are looking for a personal financial management system, or the staff of your organization if you are looking for a business application must be comfortable using the system. If you are uncomfortable using the system it does not matter how highly ranked the system is - it is not the best accounting system for you.

There are so many accounting software products that at first the task of narrowing your choices to a manageable number may seem overwhelming.

If you are looking for an accounting software package for your personal use stick with those advertised for personal use as opposed to business applications. Quicken Online is often recommended by accountants and financial planners who use Quicken business accounting products. Quicken Online has been criticized by at home users as too complicated and cumbersome. Recognizing that complaint, Quicken has acquired Mint, an award winning, upstart, free online application, Mint is widely recognized for its simple to use design which successfully competed with Quicken’s more complicated data-entry process as consumers looked for easier ways to manage their money. Now Quicken will begin to direct personal accounting software customers who are looking for ease of use to the Mint accounting product.

If you are just not ready to load all your personal financial information into an online application there are literally hundreds of desktop software products for you to consider. Start by asking your accountant, family and friends for recommendations. Check out the online review and rating sites. Visit your local office supply or retail software distributor to discover the options that meet your needs.

Some of the more popular personal accounting desktop products are Quicken Starter Edition, Quicken Deluxe or Quicken Premier, Spryka Desktop Budget Lite or Desktop Budget, PiggyBob Premium 3 by Nakagava Ltd. or You Need a Budget (YNAB).

The best desktop personal accounting software is not the most expensive product or the product with the most features it is the product you are most comfortable using. Once you are familiar with the personal accounting software products available narrow your choices a few that best fit your needs. Most manufacturers will allow you to try a demo version of their product. Take advantage of this offer.  If you try the demo version and find the product difficult to use or cumbersome don’t buy it.

If you are looking for accounting software for your business or organization your first decision is whether you want a traditional desktop software product, an online product, or an open source product. There are pros and cons for each of these accounting system formats. Basically it comes down to what is most important to you. If you are currently operating with a desktop system it may be easier to upgrade that system than to the switch to an online system. On the other hand the advantages of accessibility to the data may make an online system too attractive to turn down.

An online accounting program will provide easy access to your financial information anytime and anywhere. If you are a business with multiple locations or if you travel a lot and want to access your financial information the accessibility of the online systems are a big plus.

An online accounting system will also enhance communication between accountants and their clients. There is never a need to send paper or email copies of information back and forth. Questions can be dealt with while both you and the accountant are looking at the same information reducing the chances of miscommunication and errors.

The concerns with online systems are security of your data and the lack of your ability to customize online applications. Most online accounting applications provide more security than a traditional desktop or client server accounting system. The online providers update their encryption, firewall and anti-virus protection regularly. Providers take extreme care to make sure security is state-of-the-art; their business reputation depends on it.  The automatic nightly backups of your data provided by most online accounting application providers is an added security feature.

If you have industry or organizational specific needs and want to customize your accounting system to meet those needs desktop software is a better choice. Online accounting systems are great if you are looking for a standard package of financial management features; however, currently online systems are not easily modified to meet unique requirements.

An open source system is the obvious choice if you require a lot of customization however you will need technical support to install and implement an open source system so you will have to carefully evaluate your in house technical support or include in your budget hiring consultants to assist you with these functions.

Once you determine if a desktop, online or open source accounting system is best for your organization you can focus on the various products that offer that type of system.

Concentrate on the accounting programs that offer the features of most importance to you. For example, if you know you need an accounting program that runs on Windows and you need a financial system that also processes payroll and creates invoices you can eliminate any software that does not meet that criteria. If budget constraints are important you eliminate all the products that cost more than you are willing to budget. And so on until you have four or five accounting software programs that are likely to work for your organization.

Now you can focus on those accounting systems and do a more detailed analysis of those products without it becoming an overwhelming task.  When you have narrowed you options to several products try out the product demos. The best business accounting application for your organization is the one you will be comfortable using. . Color graphics and custom invoices are great but more important is an accounting system that your organization can use efficiently to provide the information you need to manage your business efficiently.

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