Accounting software

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Accounting software is an application software that records and processes accounting transactions within functional modules such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, and trial balance. It functions as an accounting information system. It may be developed in-house by the company or organization using it, may be purchased from a third party, or may be a combination of a third-party application software package with local modifications. It varies greatly in its complexity and cost.[1]

The market has been undergoing considerable consolidation since the mid-1990s, with many suppliers ceasing to trade or being bought by larger groups.

Modules[edit]

Accounting software is typically composed of various modules, different sections dealing with particular areas of accounting. Among the most common are:[2][3][4][5]

Core modules
Non-core modules[6][7]
  • Debt collection—where the company tracks attempts to collect overdue bills (sometimes part of accounts receivable)
  • Electronic payment processing
  • Expense—where employee business-related expenses are entered
  • Inquiries—where the company looks up information on screen without any edits or additions
  • Payroll—where the company tracks salary, wages, and related taxes
  • Reports—where the company prints out data
  • Timesheet—where professionals (such as attorneys and consultants) record time worked so that it can be billed to clients
  • Purchase requisition—where requests for purchase orders are made, approved and tracked
  • Reconciliation—compares records from parties at both sides of transactions for consistency
  • Drill down
  • Journals
  • Departmental accounting
  • Support for value added taxation
  • Calculation of statutory holdback

Note that vendors may use differing names for these modules.

Implementation[edit]

In many cases, implementation (i.e. the installation and configuration of the system at the client) can be a bigger consideration than the actual software chosen when it comes down to the total cost of ownership for the business. Most midmarket and larger applications are sold exclusively through resellers, developers and consultants.[citation needed] Those organizations generally pass on a license fee to the software vendor and then charge the client for installation, customization and support services. Clients can normally count on paying roughly 50-200% of the price of the software in implementation and consulting fees.[8]

Other organizations sell to, consult with and support clients directly, eliminating the reseller.

Types[edit]

Personal accounting[edit]

Personal accounting software is mainly targeted towards home users, supporting accounts payable-type accounting transactions, managing budgets, and simple account reconciliation, at the inexpensive end of the market.

Low-end market[edit]

At the low-end of the business markets, inexpensive applications software allows most general business accounting functions to be performed. Suppliers frequently serve a single national market, while larger suppliers offer separate solutions in each national market.

Many of the low end products are characterized by being "single-entry" products, as opposed to double-entry systems seen in many businesses. Some products have considerable functionality but are not considered GAAP or IFRS/FASB compliant. Some low-end systems do not have adequate security nor audit trails.

Mid-market[edit]

The mid-market covers a wide range of business software that may be capable of serving the needs of multiple national accountancy standards and allow accounting in multiple currencies.

In addition to general accounting functions, the software may include integrated or add-on management information systems, and may be oriented towards one or more markets, for example with integrated or add-on project accounting modules.

Software applications in this market typically include the following features:[citation needed]

  • Industry-standard robust databases
  • Industry-standard reporting tools
  • Tools for configuring or extending the application (e.g. an SDK), access to program code.

High-end market[edit]

The most complex and expensive business accounting software is frequently part of an extensive suite of software often known as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

These applications typically have a very long implementation period, often greater than six months. In many cases, these applications are simply a set of functions which require significant integration, configuration and customization to even begin to resemble an accounting system.

The advantage of a high-end solution is that these systems are designed to support individual company specific processes, as they are highly customizable and can be tailored to exact business requirements. This usually comes at a significant cost in terms of money and implementation time.

Horizontal market[edit]

The choice of whether to purchase an industry-specific application or a general-purpose application is often very difficult. Concerns over a custom-built application or one designed for a specific industry include:

  • Smaller development team
  • Increased risk of vendor business failing
  • Reduced availability of support

This can be weighed up against:

  • Less requirement for customization
  • Reduced implementation costs
  • Reduced end-user training time and costs

Some important types of vertical accounting software are:

Hybrid solutions[edit]

As technology improves, software vendors have been able to offer increasingly advanced software at lower prices. This software is suitable for companies at multiple stages of growth. Many of the features of mid-market and high-end software (including advanced customization and extremely scalable databases) are required even by small businesses as they open multiple locations or grow in size. Additionally, with more and more companies expanding overseas or allowing workers to home office, many smaller clients have a need to connect multiple locations. Their options are to employ software-as-a-service or another application that offers them similar accessibility from multiple locations over the internet.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Accounting Software". EGA Futura. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  2. ^ Elmblad, Shelley. "6 Tips for Choosing Small Business Accounting Software". About.com. Retrieved 19 November 2012. 
  3. ^ "Five Core Functions of Accounting Software". Accounting-Software.net. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "10 Essential Accounting Software Features". Compare Business Products. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Accounting Software Key Features". Business-Software.com. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Accounting Software Features". KashFlow. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  7. ^ "Feature List and Benefits". 12Pay. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  8. ^ Collins, J. Carlton. "Implementation Costs". ASA Research. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  9. ^ Elmblad, Shelley. "8 Free and Low Cost Accounting Software Options for Nonprofits". About.com. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  10. ^ J, Kate. "Accounting Software for Booksellers". ERP Research. Retrieved 18 Jan 2014. 

External links[edit]