We’ve been speaking to several clients recently about switching from one accounting system to another. There are lots of benefits from using something like Xero or Quickbooks, but there are also important points to consider before changing accounting systems. Get the process right, and the change could feel seamless, but the alternative may not be pretty!
We would ALWAYS advise moving from one system to another at your year end wherever possible. This gives you a clean break, and means you have a full year of records in each system. This makes our life easier too, but that’s not the only reason!
With Making Tax Digital (MTD) just around the corner, changing to an accounting system at a year end may not be possible for some people now. If you won’t have a year end between now and the implementation of MTD from the 1st April 2019, we’d recommend you schedule the change for the end of a VAT quarter.
Should you transfer in previous years’ data?
Sometimes this can be available as a free option, and if it is, then we’d definitely say yes! Having previous year’s data in the system gives you the chance to look at trends within the business over a longer period. You may not look at them now, but you may want to in the future. We’d recommend that you do though!
Which system should you go for?
The choice is a personal one, so do your research and make your own decision. Don’t feel that you should follow the crowd! We love Xero, and like Quickbooks, but they aren’t the right system for every business. We act for clients on several different packages which work for them.
Is it user friendly for YOU?
Most systems give you the chance to have a free trial. Take advantage and play with it. Work out how you’d need to do the various things that you do every day to see if you are comfortable. Look for ways to streamline your bookkeeping, such as rules, bank feeds and debit chasing modules.
Does it have good support and easily accessible training?
When you get stuck, you want to be able to find a solution – fast! Look for an easy to use knowledge bank, online chat support and whether you can reach someone by phone if you are really in a pickle. Where are those support people based? Will they be available when you are likely to need them?
Check too that your Accountant is knowledgable in the systems you’re considering. You need them to be able to advise and support your business effectively, which means they need to be able to look at your system and understand what it’s telling them. We’re accredited by Quickbooks and Xero, and hold the Xero Migration Certification too, which means that we’ve got the experience to help you make the move!
One of the things we like about Xero is it’s reporting capability. You can set up standard reports that show you key information about your business really easily. Knowing your numbers and being able to see how they are progressing (or not!) can transform a business, so be sure to have a really good look at the reporting ability of any software you’re considering.
Make sure that you can understand the reporting package to set up, amend or even to decipher the reports you’re generating!
Does the system you’re looking at communicate with the other systems within the business? Does it integrate with other packages that you may be thinking of using as your business develops? An open API is a great characteristic to look for, as it means you are likely to be able to use some of the Apps that can help transform your processes.
We’d strongly recommend Receiptbank to any business owner, to streamline your data entry; make sure that your software will integrate. Other Apps to consider are Chaser and Debtor Daddy for debt chasing, unless the software has it’s own automated solution.
Integration with your CRM, either directly or through Zapier (or an equivalent) are also really helpful to reduce double keying and potential mistakes and oversights. How the system integrates with some of the reporting software is important too; there are various packages that can help you be far more informed so make sure you aren’t precluding yourself from using those should you choose to later.
Cost is always going to be a factor in any decision.
Sage has historically been expensive to run with annual upgrades and support. Many cloud packages have a monthly payment structure, where there are NO such fees. You can also usually choose what level of system you want, between a basic option and more advanced ones at a slightly higher rate. Many of these can easily save you far more than their monthly fee each month in efficiencies and the level of detail they can show you about your business.
Making Tax Digital (MTD)
Make sure any system you’re considering is ready for MTD. You can find out more about software that is ready in this earlier blog post.
Changing accounting systems is a big decision, but it isn’t one you have to make alone. We can help you understand the options out there, the pros and cons of each and help you make the change too. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch.