By accepting only important features during implementation, and adding more wanted functionality as you grow, your business can more adequately manage integration and allocate resources more efficiently.

After studying data from hundreds of accounting software buyers from the past year, we identified the most important set of features for each stage of your business

Accounting Software Features

1. Reporting and analysis

Information is power in today’s stimulating business environment. That’s why any accounting program you assess must have robust reporting and analysis capabilities. Besides helping users gain insight into critical financial activities, reporting and analysis functions help companies conform to government and industry regulations

2. Graphics

Accounting is a numbers-focused activity. Yet graphics, in the form of charts and other illustrative formats, is a influential tool that can be used to present trends and other concepts in a way that numbers alone can’t convey

3. Internet connectivity

With the whole world moving to the Internet, it’s only logical that accounting software should follow the crowd. That’s why you’ll want to make sure that any accounting software you consider has the ability to send and receive digital documents and handle electronic fund transfers.

4. Interoperability or coincidence

The data entered into your accounting software can be productively used by various business applications in HR, sales, shipping, and other key business sectors. Conversely, you may want your accounting program to draw information from other software products. That’s why you’ll want to check on an accounting program’s ability to interoperate with other software before deciding on whether to purchase it.

5. Scalability

With hard work, and maybe some luck, your business will be larger and more prosperous in the years ahead. Will your accounting software be able to keep pace? Look for a product that accommodates, or can be easily upgraded to accommodate, a progressively larger number of users and a growing amount of financial data and transactions. Ask vendors about their programs’ limits in these areas.

6. Expand-ability

Your organization may grow in scope as well as size. The accounting program vendor should either offer add-on modules that allow customers to slap extra abilities to its product, or a migration path to a full ERP environment.

7. Security

Your business depends on its accounting software for its very existence. If data is lost or tampered with you stand to lose time, money, business secrets (such as sales or profit data) and, if the damage is severe enough, your company. Any vendor should be able to tell you about its software’s built-in security features as well as how its product can mesh with your own on-site safeguards (such as anti-malware technology and network firewalls).

8. Automation

For many industries, support for simple accounting transactions and basic financial management tasks just isn’t enough. Various businesses require the full automation of employee expenses, payrolls and time sheets; company and departmental budgets; buying requisitions and other complex financial activities.

9. Automatic updates

Using out-of-date accounting software is like eating food that has passed its expiration date — a dangerous proposition that could result in severe nausea. Tax laws, regulations and financial practices change over time, so it’s vital to use software that receives fast, user-transparent, automatic updates.

10. Customization

Probabilities are that no accounting software will exactly match your business’s needs. That’s why you’ll want to look for a product that allows the easy customization of statements, forms, reports, screens, assistance systems and other program facets.