There are loads of good reasons to switch to a cloud based accounting system for your accounting practice — using one can save you time, you can get great value for money, your information is secure, you’re constantly getting the latest version of the software, and best of all, you can avoid getting the dreaded box of receipts dumped on your desk a few weeks before taxes are due.
But how can you choose the best cloud accounting software for your practice? Here are a few things to consider.
Ease of use for you and clients.
The first and most important thing you need to consider when you’re looking at cloud based accounting software is how easy it is for you and your clients to use. After all, if it’s a total pain, you’re not going to want to use it, you’re not going to want to introduce it to clients, and you’ll have ended up wasting your money.
So think about things like whether the dashboard has all the information you need to see presented in a quick, easy to understand format. Ideally, you’ll be able to customise the dashboard as well so that it works perfectly for you.
You should also think about things like logins. How easy is it for you to give your customers access to their accounts? For that matter, how easy is it for you to navigate the site? Can you quickly find client or account information, or do you have to go searching for it? All things to consider before you buy.
Features to meet all your and your clients’ needs.
Of course, you also need to make sure that whatever cloud based accounting software you go with also has all the functionality you need to take care of your clients the way you want to.
This will vary slightly according to the type of accounting you specialise in, but generally speaking, you should consider basic things like a fixed asset register (ideally one where you can set and forget a rate of depreciation), the ability to work with multiple currencies, mileage reporting and payroll functionality, as well as anything else you regularly do for your clients.
If you can, you should also look for software that can handle more advanced things, such as tailored user permissions, so you can easily share (or protect) data at different levels from different people, according to the situation.
If you work with clients who have shareholders, you’re definitely going to want to find a software that can easily keep track of dividends, as well as show you annual tax summaries of dividend payments and share transfers. You can also find software that comes with things like account code templates, which makes onboarding new clients so much easier, as well as the ability to submit your clients’ VAT directly to HMRC, which saves both of you loads of hassle.
Additionally, if you work with clients who have specialised industry needs, you should also consider whether the software can easily accommodate them. For instance, if you have clients who work in construction, you’re going to want to look for software that lets you automatically file CIS returns.
Great, easy-access support.
The last thing you want when an issue comes up it to be stuck in a phone queue. You need to make sure that your cloud accounting software has its roots in solid ground — by which we mean you need to be sure that you can quickly get ahold of a fully trained, friendly support person whenever you need to.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re own your own at any point in the process, from choosing the software to buying it to switching your data over onto it. A really good cloud based accounting software will come with a team of people who can help you every step of the way, whether it’s your first day with the software or your 500th.
Finally, you’re going to want to make sure that whatever accounting software you go with has the testimonials and awards to back up their sales copy. In the UK, this means that you want to find a software that’s accredited by the ACCA and the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB), and of course, approved by HMRC.
And don’t forget to look at what other accountants say — you can read up on everything, but the best insight into software is going to come from people who have actually used it, so make sure to ask around in your community and look for software that has a lot of testimonials from accountants.
The long and the short of it?
Look for a software that’s going to hit that sweet spot of usability and functionality, paying special attention to any niche needs that your practice or your clients have. And don’t forget, while you are looking for software, it’s the people that make a product, so check out the customer service before you buy. Finally, remember that you don’t have to buy just based on what the software company says — look for testimonials and case studies from fellow accountants, and you’ll quickly see which programmes are worth the money.
Of course Clear Books ticks all of these boxes. We work with hundreds of accountants across the UK. See how Clear Books can streamline your practice