Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Picking the Right Software Bookkeeping Program

If you are like most small business owners, you know you need a software package that will handle your bookkeeping and accounting needs, you just aren't sure which one makes the most sense. Is it QuickBooks (which has the majority of the market share), Peachtree, Microsoft Money, or one of the other dozen that line the store shelves? And once you do buy a package, what's next? Can you really just plug and play, or are you going to need support?

A good place to find these answers and more is your accountant. He or she should know your business intimately and can recommend the package and features you need. Many accountants have a preference for certain packages, and since they can be a valuable resource after your purchase, listen closely to what they recommend. Consumer Reports can be another valuable resource.

Whether or not you turn to an accountant for advice, take the time to do an analysis of your needs. Do you need to perform high-volume sales orders? Large credit card transactions? Inventory tracking? Write down your requirements in a checklist. Mark which requirements are critical and which ones are just desired.

Making the Purchase
When it comes time to purchase, you can check online sites such as or discount retailers like Best Buy. Because the cost of these packages are rarely more than a couple hundred dollars, it's probably not worth wasting too much time looking for the best deal. Unless you have very specialized needs, it's smart to pick one of the major brands such as Peachtree or Intuit's QuickBooks because these companies will likely be in business (and offering support) for as long as you are in business. They also have extensive online support and a community of advisors that can help you along the way. (Note: Microsoft introduced a new accounting program in 2006, Small Business Accounting, which is probably worth a look. One expert, however, we spoke to called it "awkward.")

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