Accounting software programs have greatly increased the productivity of back offices for the past several decades. These programs provide better financial information recording, more accurate reporting features and the ability to transmit financial information in secure electronic formats. The type of accounting software package used in businesses depends on the size of company operations, number of users and different segments or departments in a company. Several options are available and may be customised for businesses, depending on how much they are willing to spend on the accounting software.
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Personal and Small Business Programs
Small businesses and sole proprietorships may use simple accounting software programs like QuickBooks or basic computer programs like Microsoft Word or Excel. These programs are inexpensive and offer basic solutions for billing, paying vendors and recording sales. Microsoft Word and Excel require lots of set-up time for creating individual invoices or other business forms. Depending on the version of the Microsoft programs, some business forms may be preloaded in the programs.
QuickBooks is an easy-to-use load-and-click style of software that allows individuals to quickly set up their business by answering a few simple questions. Preloaded forms, ledgers and invoicing modules are provided for business owners to use in their daily operations. Users can create specialised forms or customise QuickBooks rather than choosing a preloaded business format.
Mid-size Software Programs
Mid-size software programs off more functionality for multiple users of business software. Companies can select different models based on business size and the number of users accessing the software. While these software programs are more expensive, the customisation options help limit purchasing unnecessary modules. Sage Software of North America offers several great mid-size accounting software packages, including Mas 200, Mas 500 and Peachtree Accounting.
Sage's software packages can be server- or web-based, allowing users to access company information from multiple locations. These programs also include payroll and fixed asset modules, allowing companies to complete in-house processing for these technical aspects of accounting.
Enterprise Resource Systems (ERP)
Large companies with several operational departments or multiple locations may use ERPs as their preferred accounting software package. ERPs are fully customisable packages that can take several weeks to fully implement in a company. Oracle, PeopleSoft, Sage and SAP AG are the most common ERP vendors in the United States.
ERPs have distinct modules for each segment or department in a company that will funnel financial information into a centralised accounting module. Nonfinancial information is funnelled into a management information system, which managers use to review operational goals and make decisions regarding performance. ERPs allow for multiple users and are usually web-based, using a company intranet to transmit information throughout the company. Global companies can successfully implement an ERP to transmit information from international locations into the accounting or management decision module.
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