Best accounting software for small businesses

Best accounting software for small businesses
By Evan Godfrey | Yahoo Docstoc – Fri, Feb 24, 2012 7:01 AM EST
Unless you have a horde of scriveners working for you small business,
paper bookkeeping is essentially obsolete. There is an abundance of free
and paid software available to help your small business stay on top of its
finances. This article compiles the top accounting software and compares
their features to help you make the right software choice for your small
Common Features
There is a lot of software available for small businesses. Choosing the right
one can be difficult. Oftentimes, software seems overly loaded with bells
and whistles with only marginal utility for your company, while other
software has less functionality than Microsoft Excel. Though large
companies can often afford to special order software tailored to their
needs, this is not a feasible option for most small businesses. Aside from
basic accounting capabilities, most software has expanded into full-fledged
suites. Some features include:
General ledgers – a simple interface of accounts payable vs. accounts
receivable. Extensions are available with most software, including
support for tax documenting, check handling, and payments
Double-entry bookkeeping – the ability to automatically track both
where money is coming from and where it is spent
POS – point of sale capability to process sales, including electronic
(card and online, eg PayPal) and check payments
Customer Relation Management (CRM) – tools to help assist your
customers, including an interface for customer support
representatives and IT personnel that can effect customer payments
or accounts
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – more of a suite type than a
feature, ERP is a comprehensive set of tools for everything from
financial planning, human resources, and manufacturing and
warehouse management. Software with ERP is meant to connect
virtually every part of your business under one interface
Inventory Management – rather self-explanatory. This can be
integrated with POS features to automatically keep track of inventory
based on sales and scanned bar codes
Software as a Service (SaaS) – while some business software is
standalone, an increasing number are being made available
exclusively online. This trend towards cloud computing keeps data in
a decentralized location
Paid Software vs Open-source Software
There are free and pay options available for accounting software. Aside
from the obvious issue of payment, there are pros and cons for each
option. Paid software has the advantage of accountability and updates,
whereas free, open-source programs tend to have more add-ons,
extensions and helpful communities.
The Top 7 Accounting Software
After reviewing dozens of options, this is my list of the top 7 software
options. You can get a full summary of their features on their websites.
Peachtree (now known as Sage 50)
Xtuple Postbooks
Intuit Quickbooks
GNU Cash
Nola Pro
Microsoft Excel
Not every business will need specialized software options to fit their
accounting needs – Microsoft Excel has many powerful features and is
already installed in many offices.
Project Instructions
1. Review the competing software applications.
2. Develop criteria for selecting the package you would use in your
3. Select a package based on that criteria,
4. Explain your selection and the packages you considered but did not
5. Expected length: 3 paragraphs.
6. Be prepared to describe to the class your business, the package you
selected and why.