Accounting software

Key features of accounting packages


There are many types of accounting packages for business, with many different features and key functionalities. The software you should consider will depend on the type of business you have and how you run it.

Ideally, you should look for an accounts package that can meet all your basic business needs as well as detailed requirements. To help you work out your basic needs, see our accounting requirements checklist.

Detailed requirements for accounting packages

Requirements you may want to consider include:

  • Basic bookkeeping - eg sales and purchase ledgers, nominal ledger and invoicing.
  • Ability to keep digital records for Making Tax Digital for VAT purposes.
  • VAT calculations - your accounts system should be able to keep track of VAT and calculate your VAT payment at the end of each VAT period.
  • Payroll processing - if you have employees, consider a payroll function that calculates PAYE (Pay As You Earn) and National Insurance contributions weekly or monthly.
  • Automatisation of management reports - you may need to prepare internal management reports periodically, and a system that gives regular management accounts will help improve business efficiency.
  • Invoicing - any accounts package needs to be able to produce invoices, but you will probably want to be able to customise them and you may want to send them by email.
  • Credit control - an accounts package can help by highlighting where customers have exceeded their limits and providing statements to chase them.
  • Compatibility with other computer systems - including accounts system used by your accountant, as well as stock control systems, an e-commerce website or customer relationship management systems.
  • Industry accreditation - from an independent industry body such as the Business Application Software Developers Association.

If your business needs are more complex, see also specialised requirements for your accounting package.

If you are struggling to find the right accounting package, it might be worth asking for advice, or finding out how others in your industry computerise their accounts.