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            Mar
            25
            Minneapolis
            Finance Software

            Getting the most from financial software packages

            Account software packages are essential to running your business smoothly and you don't need an expensive or elaborate package to get the information and benefits you need.

            Most small businesses can run fine on the two most popular packages, Peachtree and QuickBooks.

            Here are a few tips?to get the most out of?your accounting software package.

            Hire someone to help you install and set up your program. It is worth the cost of installation to have it set up right. Then, when it comes to preparing your taxes at the end of the year, all the information is there and where it should be.

            Often people will try to save money on installation, only to spend much more money on the back end when they find out it wasn’t set up correctly and the information they need isn’t available. An installation usually takes one or two hours, and you can expect to pay approximately the same for installation as what you paid for your package.

            Upgrades to the system can be done yourself as they just roll the current information into the new program.

            Do pick the package that is right for your business. There are a number of different versions of both QuickBooks and Peachtree so you should be able to find one that is a good fit for your business.

            Typically, Peachtree is better if you are more concerned with inventory control because it has better inventory tracking capabilities. Peachtree is also more accounting-driven; more knowledge about debits and credits will be needed for making the entries.

            With QuickBooks, not quite as much accounting knowledge is needed because it is more item-driven. You will very seldom see the debits and credits. Both have easy to navigate menus and are icon-driven.

            The system you choose will depend on how comfortable you are with accounting entries. Having the right person set up the system will help you be more comfortable with either system.

            Make it a point to record transactions daily. If daily isn’t possible, at least record them weekly. The five things to monitor or record every day are: cash balance; sales; expenses; accounts receivable; accounts payable.

            Posting on a daily basis will give you a quick overview of the day, keep you current and won’t make the transactions seem overwhelming.

            If you wait until the end of the month, you may miss an opportunity to steer your business in the direction it should be heading.

            Support available

            There are rarely technical issues with these software programs, but you may have questions about how to enter transactions in the beginning. Check with your accountants; they might be able to recommend somebody who specializes in the software you own or may even have people on staff who are experts in the software packages.

            If your accountant is unable to point you in the right direction, both Peachtree and QuickBooks offer local, certified consultants to help. You also have 30 days of free support with both packages, so you have some time to figure it out on your own before calling in extra support.

            Upgrade your system when necessary. Typically, software packages will need to be upgraded every 2 to 3 years. Look at the new enhancements to the software every year to see if there is something in the new version that would be helpful and allow you to streamline your transactions. If so, it might be worth it to upgrade even before you are forced to.

            Companies will usually support the old software, but only for about three or four years after a new version has been on the market.

            To get the most out of the information you have recorded through the year, export the information into Excel. This is easily done on most systems and allows you to analyze the information and customize reports based on the needs of your business.

            What’s capacity?

            Most businesses can run on the different software packages offered for quite awhile with few issues, but there may come a point where the system just isn’t big enough to handle the capacity of your business.

            When you notice that the system is running slower than usual, it is a good sign that the size of the file is too large.

            Intuit, the manufacturer of QuickBooks, states that the maximum number of employees, customers, vendors, products and other names you can enter into QuickBooks is 14,500. It is advisable to upgrade before reaching capacity.

            You can get an idea of when to upgrade by looking at a number of different variables including the speed of your system, the number of names and accounts you are tracking, if there are specialized things you now need from your system like job costing or larger inventory ordering capacity.

            You may also start to notice that once you have accumulated more than three years of history, your system will slow down. You can purge the old history and that will allow you to keep running QuickBooks without a problem. Peachtree tends to have a larger capacity and these steps may not be necessary.

            When it is time to switch to a new system, higher level accounting software will need to be bought specifically from a reseller of the software and usually cannot be purchased off the shelf.

            Peace of mind

            Even if you have a software package, you need your accountant. The accounting programs will make your financial transactions easier and more efficient, but it won’t have knowledge of the tax codes or see tax breaks your company could take.

            Your accountant will be able to look at the wealth of information the program produces and help you make changes to improve your business.

            An accounting package should add to your efficiency and not detract from it. Often people are reluctant to use a program because they feel it will take up too much of their time. That is not the case if you buy the right package, install it properly, make entries on a daily or weekly basis, get input from your accountant and upgrade the system when needed.

            An accounting software package, used properly, can simplify business management and increase your peace of mind.

            Tim Jewell

            Blanski Peter Kronlage & Zoch P.A.
            BLANSKI PETER KRONLAGE & ZOCH

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