Specialised requirements for your accounting package
When choosing an accounts package for your business, you may find that general-purpose applications don't entirely fit your requirements. Depending on how complex your needs are, you may need to consider:
- software with integrated or add-on modules for specific tasks, eg project accounting
- industry-specific solutions
- custom-built solutions
Some of the more common specialised features in accounting software are listed below. You can get accounts packages with all of these features if you need them, but the cost is likely to be higher.
Specialised VAT schemes
There are a number of these, the most familiar of which is the Cash Accounting Scheme where you pay VAT when your invoices have been paid. There are others such as the Flat Rate and Retail Schemes. If you use any of these schemes you should look for a package that supports them.
If you buy and sell in foreign currencies your accounts may be more complex. You can purchase accounts packages that fully support foreign currencies, but these tend to be designed and priced for larger businesses. You can still operate with a cheaper package, but you will have to do more of the work manually.
If your business sells products rather than services and you have a high turnover of sales, you may benefit from integrating your stock control function with your accounts. See stock control and inventory.
If you have a high volume of small value sales, eg if you have a shop, you should look for an accounts system that supports this type of operation.
There are significant benefits in paying invoices online using electronic funds transfer. Some accounts packages support this capability in an integrated fashion. If this would deliver significant benefits for your business it is worth investigating how the packages work and the costs that apply to this type of service.
Integration with other IT systems
You may wish to integrate your accounting software with your other software such as customer relationship management or e-commerce website. For example, you may want online financial transactions to be recorded directly to your accounting software.
To help you work out your business' accounting needs, see also our accounting requirements checklist.