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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Choosing Small Business Financial Software

Choosing Small Business Financial Software

Understanding a company’s finances is critical to the success of any business, making your financial software a key part of your company’s operational infrastructure.

Tracking sales and expenses, at a minimum, is foundational to evaluating your company’s performance and making any needed adjustments. Relying on spreadsheets, however, to track your financial performance is not only cumbersome, it can increase the risk of data-entry or formula errors that can difficult to find or correct.

Given the importance of finances and cash flow, you’re better off exploring financial management software that tracks key performance metrics and can generate a variety of reports that provide valuable insights into how your business is doing.

Understand Your Needs

The large (and growing) number of financial management tools aimed at companies of all sizes can make it challenging to pick the right one for your needs. Like most applications, there’s a balancing act between choosing software that’s powerful enough to support your company’s financial performance while also being easy to use and cost-effective.

A good starting point will be the features and reports you’re mostly likely to use. At a basic level, you’ll need a tool that generates invoices, records sales and payments, tracks expenses and produces performance reports.

Depending on your business, you may need other features. For instance, tracking inventory may be critical to a retailer, but largely irrelevant to a consultant. Similarly, you may benefit from time-tracking features, automated past-due notifications, customer relationship management and sales tracking, or automated inventory re-ordering.

You may also want to explore software designed for specific industries, such as construction tools that help automate proposals and estimates as well as billing, or legal practice software that blends financial management with scheduling and document management.

If your business takes you on the road, choosing a financial management tool with mobile access allows you to record expenses and sales, and review your company records and performance from nearly anywhere. Entering expenses from the road, for instance, is generally more efficient than having to deal with an ugly pile of receipts after a trip.

At the opposite end of the complexity scale, if you only need to generate invoices, you may be better off with a dedicated app offering that specific functionality.

As you evaluate software, it’s a good idea to get a sense of the available features, and to consider purchasing a little more functionality than you think you need at the moment. It’s better to buy some ‘extra’ features now than having to upgrade to more powerful software in a year or two as your business grows.

Power of Integration

Most financial management tools offer integration features that allow you to exchange data automatically with other tools you use, such as your bank account, POS terminal, payment card processor, CRM platform, and others. This allows you to take advantage of the financial software’s capabilities without having to enter data manually.

You can also enable remote data access for your bookkeeper, accountant and tax professional to make it easier for them to prepare reports and filings.

Similarly, talking with your financial pro before committing to a software platform can provide valuable insights into the correct choice for your needs. Ask what their clients use most commonly and how the tools are working for them, and you’ll probably get good advice for your company.

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