As a business owner, it's easy to make accounting software and/or payroll software a low priority. After all, you are busy making sure sales are up, costs are down, profits are high, and everyone is staying productive. Unfortunately, it's so easy to fall behind if you don't stay abreast of technology, and when that happens you can quickly lose the benefits that the software was supposed to provide in the first place. Here are ten reasons why keeping your accounting and payroll software technology current is crucial to the successful operation of your business.
The old dot matrix printer still works fine, humming away in the corner, printing your invoices dot by dot. Hey, you can't hear each other speak over the noise, but you've become accustomed to it. So, why move? This is an all-too-common scenario, whether it's a printer, computer, or a long list of other hardware devices. For a business, hardware is an important component which allows you to print invoices, save valuable files, communicate with customers, and much more. The older your software system gets, the less likely you will be able to keep on performing those functions in a timely manner, and eventually you won't be able to at all. The software you are using plays a huge role in the hardware you are able to operate. Compatibility with new hardware is why it's important to keep your software up to date.
Safety and Security:
The good news is that we are now able to communicate much more quickly within a business, and also with outside contacts such as vendors and customers. E-mail, instant messaging, and a host of other modern technologies make communication much faster! But the downside is that there are also many more security threats. Keeping your software technology current helps keep your data safe from hackers!
If you've been doing things the same way for many years, it's easy to believe that your way is the fastest way available. After all, learning a new system does take time. But in the long run, things like running reports, processing invoices and keeping track of data are generally done more quickly with newer technology.
How do your customers feel when they receive and view your invoice? Is it printed on nice paper with your logo and a custom message? Or is it printed on thin paper with tear marks on the sides, barely legible because of printing issues? Do not discount the fact that what your customers receive from you impacts their image of you. Having newer technology allows you to print documents and perform other functions that look much more professional than they did years ago.
What happens when your customer asks to view all of their sales from you for the past three years? Are you able to help them, or is your historical data limited? This is one example where your technology affects your customer satisfaction. By moving to newer technology, you can improve your customer service and meet the needs of your customer more quickly and easily.
The Green Factor:
Older programs often require the printing of documents such as reports, financial statements, invoices, orders and other documents. Newer technology offers the ability to keep track of and send such communications electronically, saving many trees per year!
If the software technology you are using is extremely old, chances are your program is no longer being updated or enhanced by the company who developed it. You may think your program doesn't require any more updates because it's been around for so many years. The truth is that updates and enhancements help keep your software compatible with everything else on your computer. By not receiving updates, you will experience more and more problems as other technology moves forward. Moving to newer technology can assure you get the updates to keep your company safe and secure.
Support and Help:
Many older programs are no longer supported, meaning there is no help available in case of questions or problems you may have with the software. While you may know the software well, there are always questions that arise with the advancement of other technology you are using. Maybe you installed a new printer or need help getting a time clock working with your software. Or perhaps a new employee started who is unfamiliar with the program and has questions. In cases like these, having support available is crucial to the function of your business.
These days even the government is starting to require companies to have a certain level of technology. Certain government forms must now be submitted online, and no doubt that trend will continue. Older programs often cannot handle the newer tools necessary to stay compliant, and moving to new technology will be needed to meet those requirements.
The Band-Aid Factor:
If you have ever had an extremely old car, you are all too familiar with the process of fixing one thing after another until you are worn down, and your pocketbook is empty. Trying to get anything old to keep working can become tiresome and can also become extremely expensive. Because you are keeping so busy trying to make the system work, you may not even be aware of how much time and money you are spending to hold everything together. Moving to newer software technology can seem challenging at first, but it is typically the best option for your business in the long-term.
If you have employees, you are aware of your responsibility to file payroll taxes on time and accurately. These days, your business has several options on how to file those taxes. Here are the four major ways available for employers to file their employer taxes.
Manually produce and file tax forms.
Whether you are keeping track of information in a spreadsheet style format or on paper, you have the option of taking that information and manually typing it onto tax forms. You purchase the forms, and must type your tax information onto the form with a typewriter. This option is used less and less because of newer and more convenient options. However it may be the only option for those who are unfamiliar with computers.
Outsource tax form generation and filing.
Some companies are more confident knowing there is an outside service, many of which offer a guarantee their taxes will be filed accurately and on time. While there may be added expense associated with this method, some companies find the added expense is worthwhile because of reduced worries. To outsource your payroll taxes, you can choose to have your accountant do it or use a payroll service.
Print and send forms with information generated from your payroll software.
This is more convenient than the manual method of producing tax forms because you pull information that has been entered into each pay run along the way. Not only do you have the information available at your fingertips, but you can populate a form within the system and print it on plain paper, saving you the time and expense of purchasing forms. Once the information is generated and placed on the electronic form within your system, you just print and send.
Generate and file forms electronically.
This is by far the fastest and most convenient option! Information for tax forms is pulled in directly from the information entered from pay runs along the way. That information is then seamlessly placed onto the form on your computer, where forms can be saved, and can then be filed electronically via the internet. With this method, there are no stamps, forms or envelopes to be purchased. Also, filing happens instantly so there is no time delay for the mail.
Do you have a Web site? Take advantage of it! Draw people to your site, so they can learn more about your company, and then you have a chance of earning a new customer. There are so many ways to get people to your Web site, in a huge variety of price ranges. A great place to start is by taking advantage of the free ways of drawing Web traffic. Here are two great ways to do that!
What do you know that your potential customers might find useful? Write helpful, useful articles about subjects related to your industry, and those who read them will take notice! For instance, if you are an insurance agent, you could write about real-life ways to keep premium costs down, etc. Once articles are written, submit them to popular online article submission sites like www.ezinearticles.com and www.ideamarketers.com. Put links within the articles that lead back to your Web site (within the site’s editorial guidelines) and you will create a stream of free traffic to your site. It’s typically free to submit your articles, and you also get a spot to put your own custom promotional text.
You probably have a lot of information about your industry -- useful information that people could benefit from. Go out and answer questions about your industry that people are asking on answer sites like answers.yahoo.com and answers.business.com. You can browse through the questions that might apply to the product you sell, so that you are only answering relevant questions. Then, you can add a note within your answer, to let the question-asking party know that you are available if they need any more advice or help. Some answer sites also allow you to include a link back to your own Web site, where you can direct them to find more information. This can improve your SEO efforts, which is an added benefit!
Submitting articles and answering questions is a great way to show what you know, position yourself as an expert in your industry, and draw more traffic to your Web site, all for FREE!
Searching for accounting and payroll software for your business is not always a fun or easy experience. There are simply so many products out there; it can be hard to know where to even begin. The nice thing is though, we are in the digital age, and some really smart people have come up with Web sites to help you find the right product. Here are some of the Web sites I find most useful for narrowing down your software search, so you take a huge step in the right direction and save considerable hours of frustration!
This is an excellent Web site for finding all varieties of business software! First, you select the type of software you are seeking, and then you narrow down your search by checking criteria specific to that software. You can also narrow your search by location, revenue, number of employees and your budget. Capterra has put great care into making their site user-friendly and practical for any business software search, including accounting and payroll software. For those of you who prefer to submit your requirements, you can fill in a form and submit it, and have software vendors submit their quotes to you—at no cost to you.
Here’s another great Web site for your accounting and payroll software search. You can go in and browse software by application (general ledger, accounts receivable, etc.) or by industry. You can also fill in a quick, three-step questionnaire and/or call to speak with a software specialist to have vendors receive your information and contact you. This service is free to software searchers. They do a fabulous job of asking the right questions and finding you appropriate products that fit your budget and requirements.
This useful site allows you to search for software by industry or software type, or you can view products and vendors in an alphabetical directory format. Here again, you also have the option of filling in a form, submitting to them, and being matched with software vendors who contact you, at no cost to you.
Of course, this is the Red Wing Software blog, so we want you to know that WE have excellent accounting and payroll software for growing businesses. We do like to talk to each potential customer to be sure we have a fit for their organization, before selling them our software. To talk with a Red Wing Software product expert, call 800-732-9464.
So you’ve done your research and now you have narrowed down your search for payroll software to a few products. When it’s time to run the free payroll demonstration you’ve downloaded, how do you best spend your valuable time? After all, trying out several different payroll downloads can be time consuming. Use these tips for using your time wisely, and you will get the most out of your payroll software download.
Perform daily tasks.
Let’s face it: marketers like to promote all of the coolest bells and whistles available. However, the point of downloading the payroll demo is to understand how the program functions and whether it can handle the unique payroll needs of your business. So instead of clicking around trying to find the ‘cool stuff’ you may have seen in a brochure or online, focus on the basics. Set up a few new employees and his/her earnings and deductions. Generate a pay run in all the methods you use, hourly and salaried, etc. If you use a time clock, check out the import function. Then test print your pay checks or generate the test pay advice for your direct deposit. Have a look at the tax filing process and see how that works. Go in and run a report or two, and see how easy it is to get the information you need. If there are payroll software deal breakers for your company, such as minimum wage tip calculations for a restaurant, be sure to find out how they operate in relation to what your company needs.
See proof of critical functions.
Remember those bells and whistles? Well, what might be a luxury to one company is a critical function for another. Before you start your testing, write down which of these critical payroll software functions are necessary for your business. If you are unable to find and use them during your testing process, be sure to have your sales rep show you first-hand how they work in relation to your business. This will require you to explain how your company needs them to work, which is not only a surprisingly good way of organizing your own thoughts, but also ensures you see first-hand that they will work specifically for your company.
Keep track of questions.
During your payroll software testing, you will most surely have questions along the way. Instead of letting them become frustrations, simply write them down with the goal of sending them to the sales representative to do their job and answer them. A good sales rep will answer your questions in a timely manner, so you can get on with your testing process.
Remember, once you get to the payroll software download, the hardest part of your payroll software search is over. Use these tips to perform more efficient testing, and you will save time and be confident in your payroll purchasing decision.