Cloud accounting software features you and your business will love

If you’re avoiding choosing a cloud accounting package, who can blame you? They all have slightly different prices and similar features - you’d have a new free trial every month if you gave them all a go.

There are some things every business needs from its accounting software, which makes the choice a little bit easier. Whether you’re looking for your first service, or upgrading to a new one, make sure you can tick off these basic features before you enter your card details.

A smart dashboard with clear reporting

You shouldn’t have to drag information out of your software - overviews, graphics, and practical information should be front and centre. Your dashboard is the home of all the most essential information, giving you the option to either dig for more details or get the simple stuff right away.

Instant access to new features

A fixed programme installed on one device is quite rigid and needs to be manually updated - or even bought again - when a new version is released. Online cloud software should update automatically, giving you immediate access to new features and confidence that everything is compliant.

Ready for Making Tax Digital

The government’s Making Tax Digital initiative is set to kick in for the 2018/2019 financial year, applying to UK businesses with a turnover of over £85,000 a year. The year after, all businesses with a turnover over £10,000 will benefit. Your software needs to be able to upload data directly to HMRC so it complies with Making Tax Digital, which will make your life quite a bit easier too.

Lots of options for customisation

Features and easy customisation makes software with broad appeal much more personal to your needs. Your dashboard is as useful as the information displayed on it, so you need to be able to move bricks around, add features and hide ones that aren’t very relevant. If you don’t need to be VAT registered, there’s no point having it on your main screen.

Links easily to your bank accounts

What’s going in and out of your business bank account links to everything - cash flow, profit, expenses and more. If all this info is in separate places, it’s up to you to make them link, which often involves time-consuming data entry or uploading .CSV files. Instead, your software should automatically pull transactions, which you then mark as business or personal.

Read our latest guide to learn more about finance and accounting for small businesses. 😎

Payroll management

The most flexible services offer extras and plug-ins which you can add depending on your business’ needs. Payroll impacts your business finances in many different ways, from expenses to tax, so it’s only smart to have it all manageable from the same place. Even if you don’t have staff yet, the option of adding payroll means you won’t have to upgrade to a completely new service in a year’s time.  

Accessible on your phone

You’ll need secure access from tablets and smartphones, especially if you’re rarely in the office. The desktop software will be designed to work well on a small screen, and give you many of the same functions and features. It should be possible to manage the most important things from your smartphone while out and about.

Data export

If you want to pull some specific information without giving someone access to your software, export options are a must. The more formats you can export to, the better - look out for .CSV, Excel and Google Sheets compatibility. If you ever want to move your data over to another service, you can export it all and upload it again with familiar file formats.

Tight security

It almost goes without saying - you need a secure platform to access your business accounts. Do your research before you commit and find out how the platform encrypts and stores data. Many won’t actually store your bank details, so they stay separate, but it’s important to check.

You know what features you need - find out what to do next. Download our free e-book - The ultimate guide to choosing online accounting software (for people who hate doing their accounts).

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