Accounting Software Buying Guide: Current Trends

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This is part three in a series on finding the perfect accounting software for your business. This buying guide is brought to you, in part, by Accountex. This year’s conference is being held November 15 – 18 at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Registrants can save $100 by using the code “CAPTERRA” at checkout.

Capterra went last year and we’ll be there again this year. Come see us and learn something at the same time.

If you’ve read parts one and two of this series, you should have a good idea of what accounting software can do for you and how you can start your search. Today, we’ll finish things off by covering some accounting software trends that could impact what extra features you look for in your solution.

accounting software

Software trends aren’t like clothing trends. Sometimes people talk about them like they’ve come from nowhere and could be the next hot thing for three months, but that’s not really how it works. The trends we’re talking about below have been in development for years and will continue to grow for years.

If your company needs these things, I think they’re now in a stable and well-priced place. They’re still on the edge of the overall feature set, but these are nothing like Hammer pants.

Integration with other accounting tools

It’s hard to think of integration as being a cutting-edge trend, but, in the accounting software world, it is. The recent realization, and an important part of choosing your accounting software, is that when you pick an accounting package, you’re picking a piece of software to be the center of your financial universe.

Choosing your software is now like choosing your mobile phone. There are thousands of apps and integrations that can turn your basic software into a powerhouse of efficiency and financial management. There are also plenty of ways to just make your life more difficult.

The thing about cutting-edge technology is that not everyone has mastered it yet. In this case, that means putting up with lots of integrations that either should have just been included in the software or that don’t play nicely with your accounting system.

When it does work, though, it’s a beautiful thing. You can pull in payroll data, sales tax figures, and receipts automagically. You can push out your accounting data into your budgeting software and automatically group entries from your bank when they’re imported. You can even integrate with funding solutions to make your payments without you lifting a finger.

You’re going to see more and more of these integrations as things progress and they’re going to make your life even easier. There are two ways to make sure you’ve got an opportunity to take part in integrations. You can sign up with one of the big players that already has tons of app integrations or you can use a smaller vendor that has a generous API in place, which allows other businesses to tap into its ecosystem.

For an example of the former, check out the app store that QuickBooks maintains. For the latter, check out ZipBooks, a newer solution that integrates with a lot of third-party tools.

Accounting software automation

For a specific kind of integration, let’s talk about automating some

One of the other developments of the last decade – in terms of backend technology, at least – has been the increasing speed and accuracy of optical character recognition (OCR). It’s the trick that allows Word to edit scanned documents or your phone to translate pictures of a sign in Pakistan.

OCR is one of the biggest little winners in receipt management. In days of yore, you had to enter your receipts manually or wait until your system synced with your bank. The former is a huge timesuck and the latter is worthless for many business applications – for example, if you’re using a business card and want to tag expenses by category as they come in.

OCR allows you to take a picture of a receipt and have the system process it. This data can then be fed into your accounting software, usually after passing through a third party, which can tag or presort the receipt for you.

For example, you’re on a business lunch and you pick up the bill. When you’re done, you snap a picture of the receipt with your phone and it moves into the OCR provider’s system. After it’s processed, it’ll be pushed right into your accounting software and given a provisional sorting. At the end of the day/week/month, you’ll go through and make sure everything showed up where it was supposed to.

OCR is just one of many kinds of automation taking place in the industry right now, but it’s my favorite. Just scrolling through the Capterra accounting directory can probably give you a good idea of what’s out there and what might work well for your business.

Final thoughts on accounting software

This is meant to be an introduction to buying your accounting software, not a definitive answer to all your questions. You’ll need to think about cost, the number of users you want, how you want to store and access your data, and a host of other little factors to get the perfect solution for your business.

Our directory is a great place to start, but it’s unlikely to be the only source you use. Check reviews, talk to your accountant, and get recommendations from friends that you trust. The more points you have to reference, the more likely you are to get the product you want.

I hope this has been useful in your search. If it has been, check out the rest of our articles on the Capterra finance blog and come see us in Las Vegas for AccountEx 2016.

Looking for Accounting software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Accounting software solutions.

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About the Author

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Andrew Marder

Andrew Marder is a former Capterra analyst.

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