When you’re heading up a social enterprise, keeping on top of your accounts is vital for its ongoing success.

What was once recorded in old fashioned ledgers is now taken care of using online accounting software packages that can be quickly and easily stored and shared with your accountant and other financial professionals.

Cloud accounting software has completely transformed the way in which social enterprises manage their accounts and has made it easier for non-trained management staff to be able to run their accounts on their own, saving the need to employ accounts professionals.

But how do you know which cloud accounting software package is right for your social enterprise?

When choosing the right product to accurately suit your requirements, consider the following:

1. What do you need it to do for you?

There’s a large number of cloud accounting packages available today, all of where offer a different set of features that may or may not be relevant to your social enterprise.

From basic accounting through to highly advanced functionality, there is a software package to suit everyone. So, take time to make a list of the type of functionality you need. For instance, will it need to file VAT returns and run the staff payroll?

2. How much do you want to spend?

Costs for accounts software vary depending on the type of package you choose and the service you require.

If you only need basic functionality you could probably get away with using an inexpensive, basic accounting software package that will help you keep track of your expenditure, or you may benefit from paying more for a package that includes additional, more complex features.

Most cloud accounting software will be based on a monthly fee, but there may be discounts for paying twelve months in advance. Always look at the small print!

3. Will you need multiple users?

The software platforms of today usually offer some form of user login that enables you to control who can do what within the platform, and this is particularly important for accounting software.

Some may ask that you pay more for additional users, while others will offer unlimited user accounts, therefore it’s important to consider how many people will likely be using the software when considering value for money.

4. Do you need basic functions or more advanced?

Even the most basic of accounting software packages will offer a facility to record accounts received and accounts payable.

However, you may want to use additional features such as generating reports, tracking inventory and even ancillary services like time tracking, project management and payroll.

5. Do you want automatic reminders and updates?

Some accounting software will allow you to set up electronic reminders to automatically send recurring invoices and late payment notifications without you having to monitor it by hand.

This can save you time and will ensure that no outstanding invoices are ever forgotten.

6.  Do you provide quotes and estimates?

If your social enterprise regularly provides quotes or estimates to its customers, look for a package that can automatically carry information across and convert it into detailed invoices to save you time duplicating information every time an enquiry converts into a customer.

7. Will you want assistance with your tax preparation?

An accounting system that prepares your tax calculations will make your life (and your accountant’s) so much easier. If you have multiple user access, you can provide one for your accountant to enable them to access the relevant parts of the system they need to complete your tax returns.

Before you commit to any accounting software package for your social enterprise, make a list of how it will help you in the long run.  Your final choice should be able to:

  • offer customised solutions that fully meet your requirements;
  • help to make your accounts process more efficient;
  • not cost you more than you can afford;
  • keep both your business and customer data secure; and
  • offer technical support and training if you need it.

Finally, your cloud accounting software package should make your life as a social entrepreneur easier! If it’s overly complicated or requires constant input from an accounts professional this will cost you more in time and money in the long run.