There are different levels of small business management and accounting software. There are relatively inexpensive packages designed for truly small businesses with home-based endeavors or businesses with twenty five or fewer employees. Two of the leading brands in this category are Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting and Quickbooks, which is an Intuit product.
This level of accounting and management software provides invoicing and purchase order systems as well as receipts, bank deposits and bill payments. These systems will provide financial statements, generate reports based on your design, and they also include the graphics capability to develop flowcharts and similar visual analytical tools. In the case of the Microsoft Office product, the accounting software will integrate your contact management tool into a chart of accounts and provide for data transfer among the various Office software products utilized for business management – Word, Excel and Outlook.
These products and others like them are relatively inexpensive. They are primarily finance tools, used for accounting and, if the business is small enough, for payroll management.
Moving into the realm of business management combined with business accounting, you will find a new range of software products with more features and a higher price tag. Many of these software packages are sold in modular fashion; you can customize your business management software to meet your needs. If you want to add an additional feature at a later time you can purchase it and “bolt it on,” so to speak. These systems are also “scaleable,” a term which refers to the modular design and the fact that they can be designed to handle businesses of many different sizes.
Business management and accounting software (as differentiated from simply accounting software, like Quickbooks) provide an assortment of additional functions. Features may include inventory control software, CRM software, point of sale and invoicing software, billing software, email software, contact manager, task scheduler, time and attendance, payroll, document management system and so on.
CRM (Customer Relations Management) software has become an important management tool for many larger businesses that operate out of multiple sites. This type of database provides a wealth of information on each customer and manages the contact with that customer who may also have multiple business sites. Information on sales, preferences, contacts, ancillary information on the customer’s capacity and growth potential, a program for near-term future contacts – CRM software is a database on your business contacts that can be as detailed as you wish.
The CRM approach is also “scaleable” and can provide valuable support to business operations for mid-sized businesses as well. With the right information in your customer database, you can customize your marketing efforts and make many of your sales pitches through electronic means, rather than direct mail or standard advertising.
This is one example of the integration of business and accounting functions into a single software package. Software as comprehensive as this requires training for your staff and cooperation in keeping it updated and functioning properly. Utilized properly, CRM and analytic accounting software can replace a lot of business meetings and strategy sessions that fill many an executive’s day.