Small Business Accounting: Software for Small Businesses

Using accounting software on a network is especially beneficial for small businesses. No more waiting for turns on the same computer to use the software risking having conflicting or incomplete information in files on different computers. Here's what to look for.

Small businesses are making greater use of personal computers in their day-to-day operations, and the number of businesses that use PCs is growing constantly as computers become cheaper and software becomes more user-friendly. Three quarters of small businesses in the United States currently have at least one computer. Small businesses especially benefit from software that increases productivity and saves time, such as accounting software that takes simple data entered by the user and converts it into complex and varied reports. For businesses that aren’t large enough to hire an in-house accountant, their PC effectively becomes their accountant.

Accounting software is especially effective on computers that are networked. Networking, put simply, is connecting two or more computers together. Other devices, such as printers and faxes can also be connected with PCs on a network. The group of connected computers and devices is referred to as a LAN, or Local Area Network.

Networking computers and peripherals allows users on the LAN to share resources effectively and quickly, without having to swap floppy disks from one computer to another or send files attached to e-mail messages from one computer to another in the same business. Networking also reduces technology costs by allowing users to share the same peripherals and software.

Using accounting software on a network is especially beneficial for small businesses that have at least three computers connected and two users that may need to have simultaneous access to various components of the same software. Without being networked, these employees would have to wait for turns on the same computer to use the software, or would risk having conflicting or incomplete information in files on different computers.

One advantage to networked accounting software is that it improves customer service by giving all employees immediate access to customer accounts. They don’t have to give the excuse that they don’t have access to that information on their particular computer. If your accounting software is on a network, any authorized employee can call up customer information immediately upon request. Also, any employee can answer such questions without having to refer the inquiry to a dedicated accounting person on your staff. This type of quick account access can go a long way to improving customer satisfaction.

In addition to allowing multiple employees access to the same software on different computers, networking your accounting software also allows different employees access to the software at the same time. Two or more employees can even be using the same file at the same time.

This allows employees with different tasks to accomplish them at the same time without having to wait for another person to finish first. For example, accounts payable can be entered without having to wait for accounts receivable to be entered before them. One employee can enter payments received at the same time as another employee on a different computer enters outgoing payments. Also, managers have immediate access to updated financial information, and can monitor daily cash flow, inventory and receivables in an instant, without having to chase down employees responsible for particular pieces of information.

You should look for accounting software that addresses the particular financial needs of your business. Make sure that the software you purchase supports the same accounting modules that you use in your regular bookkeeping. If you currently keep track of General Ledger, Sales and Receivables, Accounts Payable, Payroll and Fixed Assets, make sure that your software also allows you to record these. If not, you may not benefit from having this software at all.

Finally, make sure that the software you choose supports advanced security and password features, so that different employees can have access to different levels of information. It would greatly benefit your business to allow many employees access to certain customer information, but you may not want all employees to have access to payroll or other sensitive information.

Article Copyright 1998 Enterprise Interactive

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