“How do you find the time to manage all of this social media stuff?” That’s one of the most common questions I’m asked whenever I present. And sometimes, I get the sense that people are hoping that it’s so complicated and time-consuming that they’ll have a great excuse NOT to do it. Not to learn [...]
Investing in an accounting system
MYOB, QuickBooks, Arrow, Sybiz, Attache, ACCPAC, CBA Did you know that there are more than 100 computer-based accounting systems on the market for small and medium Australian businesses? No wonder it takes so long to find the best accounting system for your business.
So where do you start?
Choose an accounting system that is popular and has a good support network.
A good accounting system is usually reflected by the number of years the company has been in operation and also by the number of users it has. These systems have proven themselves to be stable, reliable and supported by a good team of dedicated consultants who are easily accessible.
This doesn''t mean the package must be available from your nearest Harvey Norman. Many good software packages are only available through particular resellers and consultants.
Features vs cost
How much should you spend when investing in an accounting system? Are you supposed to pay $500, $5,000 or $50,000? The investment in your system is directly proportional to the flexibility and features you require. The more specific your requirements, the more you will need to invest. In general terms there are three levels of accounting software.
1. What you see is what you get
The most basic level of accounting system is the ''off the shelf '' package, the most common of which are MYOB and QuickBooks. These packages range from $300 to $1,100 depending on the features you require.
These are standard packages with limited features - what you see is what you get. They are, however, excellent value for money for many small businesses that have only a few users who need access to the accounts. Companies who use these packages would include your local tradesperson, small retailers and any other small business with less than 15 employees.
2. Feature rich and flexible
The next level of accounting systems are targeted at anywhere between two to 200 users. Unlike the ''off the shelf'' packages, these systems are extremely flexible and provide far more advanced features that can be customised for each business.
There are more than 80 different packages on the market at this level, suited mainly to businesses with detailed stock, manufacturing, job costing and payroll requirements. Examples of industries that use these packages include electrical contractors, manufacturers, personnel agencies, retail chains and general businesses with anywhere between ten and 100 employees or turnovers of $3 million to $50 million.
Well known packages include Arrow, Sybiz, Sage and Attache. These packages can range in price from $3,000 to $30,000 depending on your requirements - and that''s just the software. Remember the more ''feature rich'' your system, the more training and support will be required.
3. Custom designed for your business
The highest level of accounting software is very specialised. Prices vary significantly from $30,000 to $1 million. Purchasers of such software have extremely detailed requirements and often have parts of the system customised to suit their needs.
Users in this market are large companies with more than 100 staff and turnovers greater than $50 million. Packages in this market (ranging significantly in size and cost) include ACCPAC, Navision, Solution 6 and SAP.
Number of users
In most cases, an ''off the shelf'' accounting system will manage a maximum of three or four users. This is because these products are not designed for networked environments. Companies with many users need to consider a ''next level'' accounting system that accommodates their current networked operating system.
Use a professional consultant for training and support
Whatever your chosen accounting system, set up and training is essential to its successful implementation. The system will only be as good as the user and the user will only be as good as the trainer. A good consultant should:
- Be an accredited trainer/consultant on the accounting system.
- Have a good knowledge of accounting - the more qualified the accountant the better.
- Have extensive experience with installations and training - you don''t want to be the second client they have set up.
- Have their skills reflected by their rates - as with most things, you get what you pay for.
Avoid using ''imported'' software
Other than feeling good for supporting your local economy, buying Australian software usually results in more reliable and more cost effective support. In addition, Australian software providers are more likely to provide software enhancements quickly in response to changes in Australian legislation.
Choosing the right accounting package
An accounting package is an important part of your business. The right package will help you to comply with government regulations, assist with managing your costs and help you understand your profit margins and cash flow. Using professional services will enable you to make the most of your resources.