For many small business owners and home accountants, keeping track of where money is coming from and going to started on a spreadsheet. After all, practically every computer comes with some type of spreadsheet program, and nearly everyone knows the basics of how to use it. At first glance, online accounting programs can look more complicated than the familiar spreadsheet standby.
The truth is, however, that online accounting systems can be a lot easier to use than most spreadsheet programs. These programs come loaded with the data fields that business owners need: they’re easily able to perform complicated functions, and they produce reports that make your business data understandable to others.
Easy Spreadsheet Set Up
The most time-consuming part of using an ordinary spreadsheet to track your financial data is setting up the file. Starting from a blank grid, it can take hours to create a few basic forms that just allow you to track expenses and income received. More complicated forms, such as sheets to track tax liabilities, can take much longer to set up. Furthermore, every time there is a change in tax law or your billing/tracking methods, it’s necessary to change the spreadsheets. With an online accounting program, however, the forms and fields are already set up. Entering client and supplier data or revenue and expense data is simply a matter of data entry; there’s no need to set up new fields. A valuable feature of online systems is the ability to download bank data directly into your spreadsheets – a major time saver.
Once your data is entered into a spreadsheet, managing the program to give you the numbers you need can be tricky. While it’s fairly easy to add or compute an average, more complicated functions can be difficult to figure out. For example, if you want to compute the average of a group of prices that falls between a certain date range, you need to be an advanced user to understand how your spreadsheet organizes data and the functions needed to reorganize it the way you want. With an online accounting program, however, these functions are already built into the program. With the click of a button, you can re-organize your data and find sums and averages for any range of data that you specify; complicated functions are no longer out of reach, and comparisons of data groups are simple.
Clear, Customizable Reports
Finally, online accounting programs are able to generate reports that are easily understood by people both inside and outside of your company. In addition to standard accounting reports, with these programs you can effortlessly pull data for your tax consultant, provide a report on specified clients or suppliers for review by government regulators, or produce easy to view charts and graphs for potential investors. You’ll be able to produce a report on only the data you want to show in a matter of minutes.
An online accounting system is almost always a better choice for a business owner than setting up and managing an in-house, unique set of spreadsheets. While a new online accounting program may take a few minutes to learn, it can pay off many times over in the hours of time saved and in its ease of future use.