A friend suggests Pastel, your accountant uses QuickBooks, but you’ve just seen a great ad for Softline. Your computer guy adds to the confusion by recommending a local solution you’ve never heard of. How on earth do you choose the accounting package that’s right for your business?
Happily, the majority of off-the-shelf packages available today come with most of the basic requirements built in. Where specific needs arise, it’s useful to ask the following questions:
- What size is your business, and what growth is forecast?
A R500 000 a year business has very different needs from a multimillion rand organisation. Don’t overbuy when it comes to your accounting package because you’ll pay more for something that is more complicated than you need. If, however, your business is set for major growth in the medium term, ensure that you buy software that is scalable. As your business grows in size and complexity, you will probably need more functions and more performance. True scalability means that the user interface stays the same, as do the processes required to complete transactions. Make sure that if you need to migrate your data you will not have to fork out a hefty amount of cash.
- What industry are you in?
Some vendors have developed specialised software for certain industries which, although more expensive, may offer you the functionality you need.
- What support is available and at what cost?
Buying the software is the first step, but it’s important to ensure that local support is available in the form of consultants, internet support, phone support, training options and more. A large user base is a good indication of a bigger support structure.
- What systems will you need to run the software?
You need to make sure that your computer systems are up to date in terms of both hardware and operating system.
- What components will you use?
If you employ an accountant or bookkeeper, chances are you will really be able to maximise the functionalities of any given package, from creating invoices to producing management reports. If you’re only going to use it for invoicing, however, then choose your package accordingly.
- What is your budget?
How much money do you have to invest in the software? When researching the software options available to you, consider which one offers the best fit for your needs with the best value.
- Is the package easy to use?
If the package you choose is too complex and difficult to learn, it will be of no use to the business. Don’t be tempted to purchase one with extra functions that you do not need. Again, it’s all about the right fit based upon the needs of the business and ease of use.
Options on Offer
Here are some examples of the most popular accounting solutions in use today (note: prices as per 2009 rates):
- Softline Pastel Payroll has solutions for businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to medium and large companies.
- Pastel Micropay, a fairly new product on the market, is suited to an uncomplicated payroll environment. It will get your business up and running almost immediately and caters for up to five employees. The upgrade from Pastel MicrOpay to Pastel Partner Payroll is simple, and will give you the added functionality your growing business needs including customisation.
- Pastel Invoicing (about R500) is an invoicing package designed for start-up businesses, while Pastel My Business (about R700) is a simple and easy to use business software solution designed for start-up businesses that require the ability to track item quantities, costs and purchases. It also enables you to manage your bank accounts, credit cards and general company expenses.
- Pastel Xpress (about R3 000) is an affordable accounting solution for smaller businesses, or for larger businesses with basic accounting needs. It’s an intuitive and user friendly accounting solution that will enable you to manage numbers with confidence.
- Pastel Partner Payroll is a simple and secure payroll solution that has a good range of features. It integrates seamlessly with the Pastel Accounting software suite and most other accounting software packages. It’s available in a single-user version for the smaller company or for up to 10 users for a larger company. It can grow with your business and it caters for the full spectrum of requirements, from pre-defined, standard sets of transactions for less complicated payrolls, to more powerful and customisable features and functions for more sophisticated payrolls.
- Pastel Evolution is suited to larger businesses with multiple users. Its advanced operating environment helps organisations take control of their business as well as their finances. The package provides combined accounting and CRM functionality and allows businesses to not only capture numbers, but also business activities relating to its customers, suppliers and employees. The non-financial data is integrated and presented together with the numbers, providing a holistic view of the business. Drill-down functionality allows instant, easy access, from any point in the software, to the data that underlies the reports, and realtime integration of data that makes it possible to spot trends and make proactive decisions. It can handle up to 1 000 users, can be applied across different branches and multiple companies, and is powered by one central, SQL database. Evolution is developed for the South African business environment and incorporates local legislation requirements.
- Softline VIP products include Premier Payroll for medium to large companies, Classic Payroll for the small to medium businesses and VIP Essentials Payroll for the small business that employs fewer than 30 people. In addition, Softline VIP’s new HR application brings full HR functionality to the VIP product suite.
- Omni Accounts is another locally developed product, unique in that each Omni download or CD delivers the entire range of Omni features, accommodating growth at any time. It’s therefore not only suitable for small or start-up businesses but also for larger companies.
- Omni Essential is a basic entry-level, pre-configured bundle. Omni Trader is for small businesses requiring advanced stock control, such as small retailers and trade services. Omni Business is a fully functional accounting system suitable for businesses requiring greater flexibility and controls. For the bigger business, Omni Enterprise provides sophisticated accounting controls with advanced management information.
- The QuickBooks range includes SimpleStart (about R900) for new and home-based businesses, QuickBooks Pro (from R1 740 for a single user licence) and the more comprehensive QuickBooks Premier (R3 100), both for small businesses. QuickBooks packages are easy to use, affordable, secure and compatible with popular software packages such as Microsoft Office.
- Omni Accounts, +27 861 666 472, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.omniaccounts.co.za
- QuickBooks, +27 861 726 657, www.quickbooks.co.za
- Softline, +27 11 304 1000, email@example.com, www.softline.co.za
- Softline VIP, +27 861 55 44 33, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.softlinevip.co.za
- Softline Pastel Payroll, +27 11 304 4000, www.pastelpayroll.co.za